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Space Science

Bigelow Aerospace Deploys Genesis 2 Space Module 94

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the final-frontiers dept.
ThePopeLayton writes "Space.com is reporting that Bigelow Aerospace has successfully launched its Genesis 2 Space Module. This is significant as Bigelow Aerospace is one of a few private groups currently developing space technologies. The module was launched in a compact form and upon achieving a stable orbit will be inflated using compressed air. Bigelow's website is reporting 'the second experimental pathfinder spacecraft has been successfully launched and inserted into orbit.' The module has a variety of things on board: Scorpions, Hissing Cockroaches, Ant colonies, and even a Bingo game."
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Bigelow Aerospace Deploys Genesis 2 Space Module

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  • 10,000 a pound and they send up BINGO?
    • Re:nuts (Score:5, Funny)

      by NecroPuppy (222648) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:29AM (#19686479) Homepage
      The mutant space scorpions will have to have something to play, while they wait for re-entry.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by s31523 (926314)
        I, for one, welcome our new mutant space scorpion overlords.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        You hit on the really funny part. There is no re-entry. So why did they send the specimens up at all? I read most of the article but did not hit on any scientific purpose...

        TFA reads like Ad Copy. BTW, in case you didn't get as far as I did, one of the scorpions was named Antares by a fifth grade class in Pennsylvania. Aren't you glad I told you?

        How do you think those fifth graders will feel when they find out that Antares is bound for a desolate grave orbiting earth for a (optimistic) company goal of
        • by nofx_3 (40519)
          Um, I'm pretty sure they put some monitoring equipment on it. The purpose of the specimens would be to ensure biological matter will actually survive up in the damn thing before we start sending up the primates.
           
          -kap
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by zaydana (729943)
      Bigelow made his fortune in Las Vegas, so it is kind of fitting.
      • Actually, he made his fortune from his Aunt, the owner of Bigelow teas. He simply started another company that he decided to base on the opposite coast and it made another fortune.
    • by Ana10g (966013)
      Not surprising, considering the Russian's (er, Soviet's, whatever) first Cosmonaut was a dog... B. I. N. G. O.! And orbit was his name-o!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rei (128717)
      Well, they need to test some random objects, so why not?

      What really got *me* from the summary was this:

      This is significant as Bigelow Aerospace is one of a few private groups currently developing space technologies.

      Yeah, one of the few. I mean, who ever heard of LatinSat, Nahuelsat, Optus, Star One, INPE, Loral Skynet do Brazil, Mobile Satellite Ventures, Telesat, APT Telecomunications, AsiaSat, Chinasat, Sinosat, Nilesat, France Télécom, Stellat, Télédiffusion de France, Deutsche Tele
      • To be fair, most of those companies you listed develop unmanned communications satellites. Bigelow aerospace is developing a modular habitable space station with no (?) government funding.
        • by Rei (128717)
          I just picked one category that it would be easy to get a list on ;) The main point is that there are a huge number of private companies working on space technologies; there's this stupid meme going around that it's "governments" who are doing it all. Governments just tend to subsidize private companies that do the work. NASA does a lot of basic research (even then, they often fund part of that work in outside labs), but the general spacecraft development is usually done by contract with private firms.
  • by mhannibal (1121487) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:28AM (#19686475)
    Scorpions? Cockroaches? Ants? Bingo? See this is what happens when scientist have too much free time on their hands... Bigelow Aerospace, July 2005: SCIENTIST1: "Wouldn't it be cool to send scorpions to space?" SCIENTIST2: "...And have them fight giant space-cockroaches!" SCIENTIST3: "And play bingo!" All: "This is so cool!!! *snort* *snort*"
    • Scorpions? Cockroaches? Ants?

      Yeah, I'd have thought a can of Raid would be more effective than dumping 'em in space.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mikael (484)
      Wow! An orbiting roach motel...
    • Scorpions? Cockroaches? Ants?

      A good source of self replicating protein for long space voyages?
      ...and crunchy too!

    • Old fogeys (Score:3, Funny)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Well, only really old fogeys will have enough money to visit the space hotel and they will probably want to play bingo...
    • by nospam007 (722110)
      Scorpions? Cockroaches? Ants? Bingo? See this is what happens when scientist have too much free time on their hands... Bigelow Aerospace, July 2005: SCIENTIST1: "Wouldn't it be cool to send scorpions to space?" SCIENTIST2: "...And have them fight giant space-cockroaches!" SCIENTIST3: "And play bingo!" All: "This is so cool!!! *snort* *snort*"
      --
      It's a casino guy. He'll train the scorpions to play craps and the "Games from Outer Space Internet Casino" will take bets.
      The ants will run a treadmill for the Bingo
  • ET Game (Score:4, Funny)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:31AM (#19686487) Homepage Journal
    They should have sent up this instead. It would have been more fitting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.T._the_Extra-Terres trial_(Atari_2600) [wikipedia.org]
  • Safety Concerns? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by teebob21 (947095) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:31AM (#19686495) Journal
    If humans plan to move boldly into space, private investment and development is critical. Imagine the westward expansion of the United States if it had only been performed by governmental institutions. Like most projects, it would have been slow, mismanaged, and innovation would have been stifled. Like wearing denim jeans? Thank Levi Strauss and his creativity during the Gold Rush. Now imagine no westward rushes - only slow, methodical probes such as the Lewis and Clark expedition. Lewis and Clark did a lot of knowledge of the Louisiana Purchase, but the percentage of territory actually explored was miniscule. Did private exploration lead to increased risk and loss of life. Defintitely, but that was a risk that those pioneers were willing to accept. Those who were scared of harm during the voyage stayed home.

    How does this all relate to space? Simple - governmental programs by the US, UK, Europe, China, et al, likely will not be the place where true discovery is made. Once commercial interests develop space-based platforms, we will begin to see true innovation, and perhaps, affordable spacebased transit and colonization in the very-long term. It wasn't always pretty, but hard work and planning got people from cities to the frontier of the New World in the 1850's. I believe the same will happen with space.

    At the same time, I was unable to find any mention of protection for the craft from micrometeorites and space debris. An inflatable structure will be at greater risk of catastrophic failure from micropunctures than would a traditional aluminum/titanium shell. It will be interesting as well to see what sorts of atmospheric pressure can be contained in the vacuum of space in inflatable structure and their airlock ideas. The psi differences will be drastic, and many inflatable materials do not respond well to the temperature swings of space.
    • You may be correct in that a failure may be immenent. However, there are two huge pieces to the puzzle. 1 is designing a craft that can handle space, and 2 is actually getting it to successfully launch.

      One could argue that you shouldn't waste a whole bunch of money on an expensive craft it you're only going to destroy it in a failed attempt to launch.

      Or maybe they could only afford to focus on one area and decided to make a cheap craft.
      • by teebob21 (947095)
        I never stated that failure was imminent; in fact Bigelow's first test craft remains in space to this day: http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060721_bigel o w_genesis-1.html [space.com] as referenced by TFA. So far, they have been successful on both of your points. My original post was intended to point out the dangers inherent to all spacecraft, and raise discussion of the potential merits of an inflatable structure. I see obvious benefits to the inflatables. While they do not decrease launch mass, the volume can be
        • by rbanffy (584143)
          Actually the amount of equipment you send is the same.

          But, with inflatables, you can send a bigger habitat in one launch (one that would otherwise be too large for your launch vehicle) and send "the furniture" in sequence and doing some in-orbit assembly.

          With the upcoming Saturn V-class launch vehicles NASA is planning, truly huge LEO habitats can be deployed. Not to mention these structures can be combined to form even larger ones. While I don't think it's particularly clever to have very large open spaces
          • by inviolet (797804)

            I may be wrong, but I think extraordinary things like these (a man-made object half the size of the moon anyone can point up and see crossing the sky during daytime) is the kind of inspiration this generation may need. At the very least, they will look up.

            You are assuming that it will display a message like "Aim high" or "You can do it" or "Another giant leap for mankind", or an inspiring absence of any message.

            In reality, it will display a Nike logo, or "Surf Better at AOL.COM", or an American flag (whic

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by rbanffy (584143)
              Just imagine the incentive to develop light and cheap ground-to-space missiles ;-)

              And I would go for the "inspiring absence of any message".

              Or George Lucas could buy one and make it look like the Death Star...
        • Actually, an inflatible object (propperly designed) is better protected than a more conventional one. What you have to understand is that the physics of an orbital collision are very different from a more mundane one.

          In an orbital velocity collision, you can't do anything to prevent impact damage. when the objects hit, their kinetic energy (~25MJ/kg) is converted to heat. That means that no matter what your shield is made from, it vaporizes - nothing you can do about it. So now you have an extremely hot
    • It is interesting to see imagine the alternative scenario if exploration had been funded primarily by governments. To add further matter to your point, if you consider the expansion into the new world and things like the European expansion into Asia, it is often pioneered by trade. The modern equivalent is private enterprise of course. Historically it is the way that society has seemed to lead to. So then what is the solution to our exploration of space? Leave the role of space exploration solely to privat
      • by Rei (128717)
        Private enterprise *does* run space. Who do you think makes and operates almost every spacecraft in operation? Government funding typically acts as little more than subsidy. "We tell you what we want to be able to launch with, and we give you all of the money you need for R&D. Come up with a working concept that meets our requirements, design it, and build it, all on our dime. Then you operate what you just designed and built, and charge us for launches with it."

        Why subsidize like that? Because th
    • Re:Safety Concerns? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @04:58AM (#19686817)
      TFA does mention that

      "..The skin is made of several layers that include proprietary impact-resistant materials. Testing on the ground has shown that the expandable shells of a Bigelow module are much more resistant to space debris than the modules on the International Space Station."
    • by CFBMoo1 (157453)
      At the same time, I was unable to find any mention of protection for the craft from micrometeorites and space debris. An inflatable structure will be at greater risk of catastrophic failure from micropunctures than would a traditional aluminum/titanium shell.

      Governments doing stuff like this:

      http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/space/01/18/china.mis sile/index.html [cnn.com]

      Won't help in keeping the place clean of dibris that could do it either.
    • by The_Noid (28819)
      The funny thing with a vacuum is that the pressure of it can never go below 0 bar... So if you want a nice internal pressure of 1 bar your maximum pressure difference will be... 1 bar! Not really that drastic don't you think?
      • by jcr (53032)
        Of course, most spacecraft operate at a lower pressure than that. Saves on the launch weight, among other things.

        -jcr

    • I agree with your support of private industry, but a fucking tea company [bigelowtea.com]?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by owlnation (858981)

        I agree with your support of private industry, but a fucking tea company?
        Sure, why not. There's an historic precedent. The fastest sailing ships of their time, and new sailing technologies, were developed as a by product of the tea industry in the 19th Century.

        I think it's rather fitting, and all quite steampunk really.

        Seriously though folks, as other posters have mentioned, there's not nearly enough Space Gigolo posts on this story.
      • However, from Wikipedia:

        Bigelow Aerospace was founded by Robert Bigelow and is funded by the fortune Bigelow gained through his ownership of the hotel chain Budget Suites of America."
        Hence the whole idea of a "space hotel" seems appropriate...
    • Government involvement bad, commercial investment good, yadda yadda ..yawn... - so why's it not happening?

      Because there's no money in it! Nobody's stopping Bill Gates and Exxon and Haliburton from throwing a few billion at spaceflight, the Russians would happily take their dollars and launch up anything they want (oh the irony, the Russians are completely up for free market exploitation of space and the Americans won't allow it...).

      So even though you want private investors to pour money in, they aren't doi
      • "Personally I don't think private companies give a toss about making discoveries and getting involved in innovation, they just want to make a profit."

        Of course that's what they're interested in. Why would you expect anything else? I mean, presumably, any corporate entity that has the money/material to invest significantly in space flight will have plenty of stockholders to keep happy...do you think they would support the investment of their money in extremely high risk ventures with minimal return in the ne
    • by ozbird (127571)
      It will be interesting as well to see what sorts of atmospheric pressure can be contained in the vacuum of space in inflatable structure and their airlock ideas.

      The real safety concern is if the giant radiation-affected, bingo-frenzied cockroaches, scorpions and ants return to Earth alive... Go vacuum!
    • by Valdez (125966)
      So, in summary, if we want to have colonies on the moon or mars in the next 10-20 years, open it to private companies and let them plant flags? First one there gets to stake a claim and keep it.
      • by DeadChobi (740395)
        The UAC welcomes you to Mars City, and hopes you enjoy your stay. Please ignore the alien creatures throwing fireballs from the left, the portal to a hell-like planet on the right, and the ruins of a long-dead civilization below you. Stop by our concession stand for a complementary soul cube on your way back to the dropship. The UAC welcomes you to...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      Actually, this has undergone a number of tests before it went into space. These are more validation tests than anything else. In fact, from all the data, it is thought that the cloth (more like fiberglass) is safer than the metal and FAR less risk. For instance, you mention hits. The transhab/BA-xxx has mutiple layers and includes sealers built in. In addition, it includes lawyers that are designed to absorb much of the energy. Whereas the meteorite would puncture the metal version, it may actually be stopp
    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      Oh please, enough with the Libertarian drivel. The US space program was moving boldly enough until the general public got bored with moon landings. Even now, NASA is accomplishing some pretty remarkable things with a relatively meager budget. Private industry will ride the government's coattails like they always do. All of these recent ventures are built on almost 70 friggin' years of governments' accomplishment. Hell, Space One amounted to a glorified X-15. Libertarians like you were just salivating
    • If humans plan to move boldly into space, private investment and development is critical. Imagine the westward expansion of the United States if it had only been performed by governmental institutions.

      Yes, lets imagine a west... Without the trancontinental railroad. Without the US Army. Without the Homestead Act. Etc... Etc...

      The west I'm imagining would be a pretty empty and desolate place without all the things the goverment did to open it up.

      Now imagine no westward rushes - only slow

  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:42AM (#19686549)
    Cockroaches, scorpions, ants and Bingo? Sounds like Phoenix not space. What are they trying to do establish a new place to send all the baby boomers when they get old?
    • by Sindri (207695)
      They are actually establishing a place to send the baby boomers when they get old. Their aim is to have a orbiting space hotel.
  • The bigger picture (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2007 @03:53AM (#19686587)
    One might ask why they are doing this. We've been launching balloons into orbit for a long time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balloon_satellite [wikipedia.org] These guys are moving toward building a space hotel. Tourists could pay zillions of dollars to visit the space hotel and they would make huge profits. To get the money they need to build the space hotel they need credibility. Launching a couple of balloons is supposed to give them the credibility they need with investors.

    Technically, the space hotel people's accomplishment is not as good as what the radio amateurs have done. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AMSAT [wikipedia.org] It is more a publicity stunt than scientific advance.
    • by diqmay (773248)

      These guys are moving toward building a space hotel.
      well I guess the cockroaches aren't so stupid after all.
    • There is a distinct difference between a ham radio satellite and habitable crew modules. The first merely requires a few thermal considerations and lots of power. The latter requires a lot of thermal considerations, power, airtight construction, etc. Also bear in mind the materials and construction methods being used are brand spanking new - NASA is licensing them for future use. The past radio balloon satellites were mere mylar baloons. No structural integrity and you'd have to be crazy to even think about
    • They are looking at doing a hotel, but that is a side business. They are looking at building space stations for any nation/business that wants to be in space. In addition, he is counting on this being used to get to the moon and mars. Finally, this will be used for habitats on both the moon and mars. While everybody else is focus on getting from earth to leo (inner city within europe to a local port), he is focused on controlling the access across the ocean and on the new lands. He will make money across th
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by caseih (160668)
      These are much more than just balloons and launching them really does give them credibility. They have proved that they can, using so-called balloon technology, create a habitable module in space that can survive the vacuum, micrometerites, radiation, and so forth. I'm frankly excited at what they've been able to do. I would not doubt at all that if this project ultimately proves successfully technologically, that we'll eventually see Bigelow inflatable modules on the international space station. This m
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Space gigolo!

    Ow ow ow ow stop hitting me!
  • by choseph (1024971)
    I came to the comments on this story ONLY to read the "Deuce Bigelow - Space Gigolo" comments. Slashdot, you have sorely disappointed me.
  • Does it have hookers? And blackjack?
    • Re:Does it... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bagels (676159) on Friday June 29, 2007 @07:02AM (#19687227)
      Well, the occupants won't necessarily be governed by any terrestrial laws (maybe international ones?), so I'd guess probably yes.
    • by Cybrex (156654) on Friday June 29, 2007 @09:48AM (#19688289)
      Does it have hookers? And blackjack?

      Well... sort of. If your idea of hookers is venomous exoskeletal arachnids with claws then you're in luck! Just bear in mind that "getting a piece of tail" will have a different meaning for her than it will for you.

      Bingo might seem like a poor substitute for blackjack, but this is Space Bingo! Anything is better with "Space" affixed to its name! Think about it; Which would you rather drink- "beer" or "Space Beer"!
  • I had no idea Bigelow had come so far. Lipton and Twinings had better step up to the plate.
  • Oh wait, that Europe not Scorpions...

    Nevermind.
  • They should have learned from their collegues in the Star Trek Universe that The Genesis Device [wikipedia.org] was a complete failure? Oh! Wait! It's Genesis II. My bad. They must have worked-out all the bugs!
  • I could have sworn that the headline was DESTROYS Genesis2 Space Module...(Note to self: drink more coffee)
  • Isn't there a cheaper way to get rid of these things?

    What if the vehicle somehow gets pulled out of Earth's gravity and eventually lands on an inhabited planet? Won't the residents be pissed and decide to annihilate Earth to rid the galaxy of free-square roaches?

  • We have just insured the the cockroaches will live longer than us, if there is a Nuclear War that devastates the Earth. The cockroaches will wait in their space module until it is safe to come back to Earth and take over the world.
    • by turgid (580780)

      We have just insured the the cockroaches

      You can insure cockroaches? Whatever next...

  • Ants (Score:3, Funny)

    by zuikaku (740617) on Friday June 29, 2007 @11:35AM (#19689545)
    Now maybe we can finally know if ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space [snpp.com].
  • Mr. Bigelow who is a billionaire hotel mogul, is also a personal friend of Art Bell from Coast to Coast AM (if you've never heard of it, it's the highest rated late night radio talk show with affiliates world wide), and interviewed him prior to this launch on his show about what he intends to do and the probability of success. The ideas he espoused were essentially luxury vacations in space eventually going for mass market appeal that everyone could afford over time (something in line with an ocean cruise)

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