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Space Science

Bigelow Aerospace Fast-Tracks Manned Spacecraft 122

Posted by samzenpus
from the in-space-no-one-knows-you're-first dept.
Raver32 writes "Following the successful launch and deployment of two inflatable space modules, on Monday the owner and founder of Bigelow Aerospace announced plans to move ahead with the launch of its first human habitable spacecraft, the Sundancer. The decision to fast-track Sundancer was made in part due to rising launch costs as well as the ability to test some systems on the ground, company CEO Robert Bigelow said in a press statement. 'As anyone associated with the aerospace industry is aware, global launch costs have been rising rapidly over the course of the past few years,' Bigelow is quoted as saying. 'These price hikes have been most acute in Russia due to a number of factors including inflation, previous artificially low launch costs and the falling value of the US dollar.'"
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Bigelow Aerospace Fast-Tracks Manned Spacecraft

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  • TFA said 180 meters**2 of livable space. I have no intuitive feel for that, so I did some quick conversion: that's about three 18-wheeler trailers.
    • 3 18 wheeler trailers have about 1200 sq ft of floor space combined[53 ft trailers]. By no means huge but very livable. the average townhouse in my area seems to be about 1700 sq ft of livable space. but we all know they are filled with crap that wouldn't be needed for a 6 month trip to space.
    • by everphilski (877346) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:13PM (#20232419) Journal
      remember, on earth we look at homes by floorplans. In space, things can be utilized more efficiently because your ceiling is your floor is your wall. You can have a bed on the ceiling and free up 'floor' space. It's all relative. There need not be blank walls, unless there is a window with a view.
      • by iamacat (583406)
        Come on, why do you need a bed in space? It's not like springs and matresses are needed to relieve pressure on your weightless spine. Just wrap yourself in a blanket and tie corners to a wall to avoid floating away. Save the space for an eleptical machine to keep your muscles from atrophying instead. And leave some empty space on the floor for walking with magnetic boots or assisted with centrifugal force. On the second thought, this will require a module much larger than a truck and seriously spoil your vi
        • by ultranova (717540)

          Come on, why do you need a bed in space? It's not like springs and matresses are needed to relieve pressure on your weightless spine. Just wrap yourself in a blanket and tie corners to a wall to avoid floating away. Save the space for an eleptical machine to keep your muscles from atrophying instead.

          I need a bed (or the zero-g equivalent) because I'm a human, and humans are territorial creatures. As such I'm not comfortable sleeping in a spot which isn't "mine" in some hard-to-define sense. Sure, I can

        • Who said a 'bed' had to be a box spring and a matress? My bed in college was a couch. In space a thin sleeping bag could work nicely. Larger, though, to accomodate the significant other :P

          And an elliptical machine isnt gonna do you much good in space. You need an exercise machine that puts your body in compression to retain bone mass.
    • A standard US/Canada trailer is 53 feet long.
    • Why not just convert it to square feet, the standard floor space measure in the US and Canada? 1 m^2 = 10.764 sqft, so the whole thing is over 1900 sqft, or about the size of a reasonably sized house. Many one bedroom condos are around 600 sqft, so this really is quite large.
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:32PM (#20232517) Homepage Journal
      Ok, for a start, the article said 180 cubic meters. The habitat is a cylinder, and from the pictures appears to be only slightly longer than it is wide. So, we know the radius of the cylinder must be about half the length. pi * 3 * 3 * 6.37 is about 180. So the radius is probably 3 meters. So imagine a cylinder lying on its side, two stories high, and about as long. And imagine you're in zero gravity, so you have all that space to work in once you build gantries in it.

    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:32PM (#20232519) Journal

      TFA said 180 meters**2 of livable space. I have no intuitive feel for that, so I did some quick conversion: that's about three 18-wheeler trailers.
      Another way to think about it is that the 180 m^3 in their initial "small-size" Sundancer [wikipedia.org] prototype module is 42.3% of the total current internal volume of all the modules in the International Space Station (425 m^3). Bigelow's next planning on producing BA 330 [wikipedia.org] modules, each of which will have 330 m^3 and can be linked up with each other and the Sundancer.
    • by todd1000 (708499)

      It's more like 2 trailers, but still pretty big. About the same volume as an 850 ft^2 house with 8 foot ceilings.

      53*8*8/3.3^3
      94

      53 feet long and about 8x8, then convert to cubic metres.

      • by Dunbal (464142)
        About the same volume as an 850 ft^2 house with 8 foot ceilings.

              Plus the great advantage is that you can use the floor-space AND the ceiling space... ?
    • by mobby_6kl (668092)
      A large 6 room apartment might have around 180 m2, or perhaps a 4 room house. A moderate 3 room apartment might be around 100m2. That should be a little more useful than 18-wheeler trailers for imagining livable space ;)
      • by mobby_6kl (668092)
        I should have probably RTFA first... The 180 are not square, but cubic metres, making the whole comparison to appartments/houses pointless. However, since I'm making yet another post anyway, I'll mention that the standard 45' containers are around 86m^3 inside, so two containers give us almost the needed volume.
    • TFA said 180 meters**2 of livable space. I have no intuitive feel for that, so I did some quick conversion: that's about three 18-wheeler trailers.
      --
      Ooops! I meant cubed, not squared. And I am assuming the standard trailer is about 20ft long.
      That was bizarre...I wondered if Slashdot had added a comment-editing feature until I realized he'd changed his signature to match.
    • FYI, I think the char you were looking for is ^. You use that to represent superscript when on old style text interfaces:
      eg. x^2

    • It's all really quite simple: you have something that can contain 180 tonnes of water, or 180 kilolitres of water, or a block 3m by 10m by 6m. For the easy sake of general size, say 200 tons of water, 45,000 gallons, or 10ft by 30ft by 20ft. Surely that is at least as intuitive and accurate as truck trailers.
  • Inflatable, eh? Sounds, er, dangerous. No sharp objects, I hope... And there's a joke here somewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by RuBLed (995686)
      I believe they had to tackle the problem about inflation first...
    • by alexfeig (1030762) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:13PM (#20232417)
      I hate to burst your bubble, but there aren't any jokes I can think of.
    • by ArsonSmith (13997)
      Not stretchy balloon inflatable, ridged structures with flexibly composite connections folded up for launch and inflated once in orbit. More like collapsible rather than inflatable.
    • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:51PM (#20232649) Journal
      Parent comment: Inflatable, eh? Sounds, er, dangerous. No sharp objects, I hope...

      Ugh, this ends up coming up every time there's a story on Bigelow Aerospace's habitat modules. From the wikipedia article on Bigelow Aerospace [wikipedia.org]:

      Contrary to many expectations, Bigelow Aerospace anticipates that its inflatable modules will be more durable than rigid modules.[3] This is partially due to the company's use of several layers of vectran, a material twice as strong as kevlar, and also because, in theory, flexible walls should be able to sustain micrometeorite impacts better than rigid walls.
      Also, from the BA 330 article [wikipedia.org]:

      Its skin, made of high-strength textiles and Vectran-like materials, is wrapped with several layers of high-tension straps. It is particularly resistant to damage from micrometeorites and debris. ... It is incorrect to equate it with an air-filled balloon floating in space. Rather, when expanded the outer shell is as hard to the touch as concrete,[1] the redundancy of the multiple (10+) layers of the bladder tends to rapidly distribute the impact energy of very low-mass high-speed impactors through the layers. A regular aluminium space station module negates an impact with Kevlar armor or other absorptive material, which is marginally more likely to suffer a catastrophic puncture in the event of an impact.
      • by gandrade (653471)
        I wonder if this material can somehow be used in the aid of cleaning up/capture the space junk in orbit. Maybe not the larger ones, but the smaller objects.

        Is there anything in the works to clean up all that space junk?
        • by 7Prime (871679)
          This idea sounds along the lines of "sweeping up the sand in the desert." If, by space junk, you're refering to man-made objects... all of them happen to be space-craft, the smallest piece you're going to find is probably a broken off solar panel from a satallite, and that's probably about 20ft long. So no, it's not really very relivent. But if you're REALLY insistant on it, for, smaller objects, it would just be better to de-orbit them. Most satallites will break up and burn up into non-harmful compounds u
        • by Raenex (947668)

          Is there anything in the works to clean up all that space junk?
          Yes [sciflicks.com]
    • by Chrisq (894406)
      It will just take one prick to mess the whole thing up.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:17PM (#20232439)
    I'm looking forward to the rushed development of their man-rated vehicle. This is for space, after all! What could possibly go wrong?
    • by QuantumG (50515)
      the word is 'habitat'. They're not making launch vehicles.

    • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @12:01AM (#20233039) Journal
      Skipping a step or two in the development of a space craft (or habitat) is not without precedent. After the Apollo 1 disaster, NASA stepped back for a year from its already horrific schedule to rethink safety. By the time they were ready to restart they were so far behind schedule that, had they stuck to the original plan, they would never have made it "before this decade is out" (John F. Kennedy).

      Then some particularly enlightened (and ballsy) director made a brilliant decision. Instead of testing first the booster, then the booster plus the second stage, then the booster and the second stage plus the third stage, and then everything with the spacecraft "stack" and finally all of this with the command module having an (unmanned) re-entry at escape velocity speeds (the third stage would be used to propel the space craft DOWN) he had the following idea. (Actually I'm sure the idea was floating around, HE had the power to make it happen).

      Since everything is ready (on the ground at least) why not test everything at once?

      It worked. The unmanned Apollo 5(?) not to be confused with the launcher Saturn 5 (or in Roman numerals V) worked flawlessly and was a huge success. With it, NASA made up all of its lost time and then some and was able to land man on the moon in the summer of 1969.

      The things the United States (and the world) is capable of, given the will and dedication of its people, is simply astounding. Gives me hope at the same time I despair as how it has been squandered by the present administration.

      • by Grismar (840501) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @02:52AM (#20233687)

        The things the United States (and the world) is capable of, given the will and dedication of its people, is simply astounding. Gives me hope at the same time I despair as how it has been squandered by the present administration.

        I don't know which is more depressing: the knowledge that mankind can't do great things, or the knowledge that we can, but don't and waste our time and resources making other people's lives miserable over oil and heroin.

        • Well, the thing is, the space race has been mostly about international penis size, rather than any actual benefits. The moon _still_ has no economic or military value, for example, and getting a man there was just an artificial milestone, for example. "Oh yeah, we're so much greater than the Russians because we put a man where neither of us had a reason to," basically.

          Yes, there have been some materials and technologies which then trickled down to civillian use, but then the same advances could have been ma
          • Some would have been made anyway because either the private sector (e.g., computers) or the military sector (e.g., ablative tiles) needed them anyway, and there's no difference between developping them for an ICBM and developping them for a manned shuttle.

            You get different people working on the problem. If you say 'we need researchers to help us find more efficient ways of killing people,' you're going to get a different set of applicants to if you say 'we need researchers to help us with the first step in exploring the solar system.' It's a lot easier to motivate top-tier researchers with a puzzle that no one has solved yet, especially if they know another team is also working on it.

          • The moon _still_ has no economic or military value

            There are large amounts of titanium, selenium and Helium III on the moon that would probably be highly offended at this remark.
            • by Moraelin (679338)

              There are large amounts of titanium, selenium and Helium III on the moon that would probably be highly offended at this remark.
              ... at a price noone wants to pay. I'm sorry, but then I'll stick with the original statement: the moon still has no economic or military value.

              And here's another thought: if it _had_ any economic value, private initiative would be all over it. You wouldn't need government money to go there.
              • Private initiatives **Are** working at it. First step is LEO. From LEO, you are halfway to anywhere in the solar system. A great number of private ventures are working on LEO access.

                ... at a price noone wants to pay. I'm sorry, but then I'll stick with the original statement: the moon still has no economic or military value.

                The delta-V to get to the moon is something on the order of 13 km/sec. Which sucks. The delta-V from the moon to earth reentry is somewhere around 3 km/sec. So if we send up some pe
                • Read 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress' by [Heinlein] for an envisionment of a moon outpost for materials processing and return...
                  And, of course, the military uses of the Moon.
          • Do you think art is a waste of time/money/resources as well? I won't debate your finer points about the relative merit about the Space Shuttle as realized versus what it could've/should've been (mainly because I have no idea, and think it's quite possible you're right), but I think that manned space travel is important in and of itself. Sure, anytime the government gets involved things tend to cost more than most of us (including me, in case that's not clear) think they should, but I think that's a separate
            • Well, I guess I should be grateful that you brought up art, because it's probably a better illustration of what I'm trying to say.

              See, art so far has been created by private initiative. You have, say, a novellist writing a novel on his own time (and thus expense), then they take it to a publisher who's privately owned, which then try to sell it to individual people like you and me. Which can jolly well decide whether they want to buy it or not.

              It's capitalism at its finest. The market can and does decide ho
              • Conversely I would have something against it if the government wasted my money to keep a bunch of guys doing art for art sake, in some ivory tower where they don't actually have to fulfill any social need or appeal to anyone's taste.

                If? Granted, the private sector (probably) provides the majority of funding for the arts, but a rather significant portion does indeed come from the public sector - at multiple levels of government. (I have no idea how significant - it might be less than 1%, although I doubt i

      • by 7Prime (871679)
        I'd like to hear more ballsy politicians make ultimatums like JFK did. We lack vissionaries in politics, these days. Everything must now be carefully calculated and measured for exact efficiency and cost. The creative and exploritory nature of our society is lost in the processes.

        Japan seems to be the one making the big scientific ultimatums these days. The government will take on improbable missions in the name of progress, even if there's a high chance of failior. Furthermore, it can't hurt to have that e
        • I'd like to hear more ballsy politicians make ultimatums like JFK did. ... I just want to see some visionaries at the head of our country.

          Really? That's funny, because I know this guy who's just chock full of 'ballsy ultimatums [whitehouse.gov],' and even a 'vision [nytimes.com]' or two, and he could really use your support these days.

          Be careful what you wish for.

  • It seems to me that there has to be some sort of quantum leap in design, manufacture, and fuel in order to make space travel economically possible for even the most wealthy human beings. I mean, why would I want a flight from NY to LA to take 20 minutes when it's going to cost me $30,000+? (estimated) I don't care how much money you make in a year. Anyone would be insane to waste that kind of money.

    I, for one, welcome our space-borne overlords... at affordable prices...
    • Do you realize just how small a quantum leap is? It is the closest one can get to zero...
      • Figurative quantum leap... not literal...
        • by Hucko (998827)
          try galatical or astronomical next time. Figurative quantum leap is still small, but a leap doesn't physically occur.
      • by dwye (1127395)
        > Do you realize just how small a quantum leap is? It is the closest one can get to zero...

        Except for zero. And quantum leaps (especially the first ones) are huge in their size regime.

        They are not the closest one can get to zero, they are the closest Post-Classical Physics allows, which is vastly farther than what Aristotelian/Newtonian Physics would allow if it could.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by biocute (936687)
      why would I want a flight from NY to LA to take 20 minutes when it's going to cost me $30,000+?

      Most people wouldn't, or couldn't afford to. However you'll be surprised how many people can and are willing to spend $30K to fly from New York to London to pick up a $100K designer handbag at 4pm, and return just in time to attend a party at 5pm.
      • by jimicus (737525)
        Get real. They'd arrive at Heathrow around 10:00 at night London time and by the time they've got through customs and negotiated transport to Oxford Street or Kensington, it'll be closer to 11:00. Much of the designer shopping will have closed for the night by then.
    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by imemyself (757318) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:46PM (#20232613)
      Some people (granted, not many) paid $10k to fly across the Atlantic in three hours in the Concorde. NYC to LA is roughly comparable to NYC to UK distance wise. For about a sixth of the time, and only three times the price, its a better deal than the Concorde.
    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Bombula (670389) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:57PM (#20232687)
      Well, there are some relatively common circumstances that might warrant ultra-fast transcontinental travel. Just as one example, if there was a heart available for transplant, for example, then many people would pay the extra $28,000 to have it arrive in 30 minutes instead of 24 hours.
    • Re:hmmm (Score:4, Interesting)

      by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @11:30PM (#20232859) Homepage Journal
      I question your numbers. Using current launch capabilities your figure is way too low. Personally, I'm not too interested in NY to LA. I'm more interested in NY to London or Sydney. For that you're actually going to have to hit orbit. SpaceX's Falcon 1 is the world's lowest cost per flight to orbit of a production rocket. A standard Falcon 1 mission is $7 million.

      Of course, if you're talking about the future, and want to be super optimistic about it, then let's think about reusable launch vehicles. Basically the entire cost of the vehicle can be ignored, as it will be amortized over its use. So that leaves fuel, taxes, insurance, etc. A flight on a plane, today, is basically just the price of the fuel plus a thin margin. So fuel is a pretty good indicator of how cheap rocket travel could ever be.

      Armadillo Aerospace are talking up a modular reusable rocket concept. They've flown some modules, but they're still a few years off putting a person on it. Each module has 180 pounds ethanol and 250 pounds LOX and they're saying 64 modules to get to orbit. Ignoring, for now, the fact that they have no idea how to deorbit - they intend to make some money from one way trips, like, satellite launches, etc. That's about $28 for the ethanol, $9 for the LOX, per module, or $2368 for an orbital flight. Even if you double that to do an inefficient re-entry and retro-rocket landing, that's still pretty cheap to go from any two points on the planet. Especially when you consider that every time they throw someone from one continent to another they can also drop something off in space, they can divide the cost between many stakeholders.

      And this is all with garage level technology. There's no scaled composites here. There's no turbo pumps and aerodynamic wings. And there's no tethers or laser propulsion systems or any of the other fancy innovations that we might see in the distance future.

      • by forkazoo (138186)

        I question your numbers. Using current launch capabilities your figure is way too low. Personally, I'm not too interested in NY to LA. I'm more interested in NY to London or Sydney. For that you're actually going to have to hit orbit. SpaceX's Falcon 1 is the world's lowest cost per flight to orbit of a production rocket. A standard Falcon 1 mission is $7 million.

        Now, explain to me why you need to go into orbit to get from one point on Earth to another? If you hit orbit, then you need to actively fight you

        • by QuantumG (50515)
          Cause at some point a "suborbital hop" becomes so long that you *are* in orbit. New York to Sydney is 10,000 miles (16,000 km). Orbital velocity for 185km altitude is 7.79 km/sec, or 28044 km/hr. So if you want to jump from New York to Sydney you're going to need to spend 34 minutes in orbit at that altitude, so you only have 26 minutes to ascend and descend if you want to do the whole trip in less than an hour.

          If you don't go that high then you'll never be able to do that kind of speed (it'd be Mach 24
      • by markk (35828)
        " question your numbers. Using current launch capabilities your figure is way too low. Personally, I'm not too interested in NY to LA. I'm more interested in NY to London or Sydney. For that you're actually going to have to hit orbit."

        Ahh... No that is not true. Anywhere to anywhere even halfway around the world is always very much easier than going to orbit. In fact just going all the way around once and land at your start site is easier than a stable orbit. Suborbital NYC to Sydney is in the same ballpark
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          "Suborbital" is where you go *less* than orbital velocity. It isn't anything to do with an orbit being "stable" or not.

          Now, if you're suggesting that there is a way to go 16,000 km in half an hour without going above 28044 km/hr then I'd really like to hear how.

          • by FleaPlus (6935)
            > Now, if you're suggesting that there is a way to go 16,000 km in half an hour without going above 28044 km/hr then I'd really like to hear how.

            You could traverse 16,000km of the earth's surface by just going through the center of the planet. ;)
      • by Colin Smith (2679)

        Of course, if you're talking about the future, and want to be super optimistic about it, then let's think about reusable launch vehicles. Basically the entire cost of the vehicle can be ignored, as it will be amortized over its use.
        Right. Just like the shuttle. The cheapest form of space travel around. Just the cost of the fuel.

         
        • by QuantumG (50515)
          Hopefully I don't have to explain to you why the Shuttle is an abysmal failure when it comes to reuse.

      • Speaking of questioning numbers...

        I'm more interested in NY to London or Sydney. For that you're actually going to have to hit orbit.

        Low Earth Orbit (LEO) will never be economical for trips between two points on the Earth's surface. The energies involved in getting to that speed are ridiculously high for that short of a distance (relatively speaking, of course). LEO brings a whole host of problems with it, including high reentry temperatures (due to the high velocity needed to attain LEO to begin with) and ridiculous amounts of fuel needed to reach it.

        To put things in perspective: Burt Rutan and crew ba

        • by QuantumG (50515)
          If you're going to go around the world in a "hop" then you are going at least orbital velocity. Getting to orbit is just as hard. Thus the argument about current launch vehicles. My point was that both the current price of such a hop and the possible future price (very optimistic) are out of range of the original estimate.
    • ...I don't care how much money you make in a year. Anyone would be insane to waste that kind of money.

      The people who would buy such a ticket don't make any money in a year. Their money makes money.

      Most large business jets in the $30-$50 million range are impulse purchases. There's a guy out there who has ordered a private Airbus A380. The world's largest private yacht is not much smaller than the Titanic.

      And on and on. There are people with literally more money than they can spend. If one was to sugge

    • It seems to me that there has to be some sort of quantum leap in design, manufacture, and fuel in order to make space travel economically possible for even the most wealthy human beings.
      You'll never get modded up around here talking like that. We're already planning our vacations for 2012 when that luxury space hotel opens up!
      • You're assuming I care about mod numbers. I don't know if you were joking or not with that first sentence. The second sentence would have to be a +1 absurd!
    • by SL Baur (19540)

      I mean, why would I want a flight from NY to LA to take 20 minutes when it's going to cost me $30,000+? (estimated) I don't care how much money you make in a year. Anyone would be insane to waste that kind of money.

      For real jet-setters with their own planes, that's not very much money and the cost is going to be roughly constant wherever you go.

      NY to LA isn't all that smart of a route to do that for though. The time doesn't make that much difference after you factor in all the local transportation costs (and security). Now, NY or LA to Tokyo or Singapore or Beijing in under an hour? That's a different matter. It costs about US$2000 and 12 - 18 hours now to fly across the Pacific from the west coast (somewhat less

    • oh, really? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WindBourne (631190)
      If BG (or ellis, or McNealy, ....) could fly from NY to LA in 20 minutes, they (or their company) would gladly pay 50K+ for that. Their time really is worth that. Somebody once showed that BG would actaully lose money to bend over and pick up a 100 bill from the sidewalk (and that was in early 90's). Why would they pay this? Because travel is expensive in terms of time.
    • Well like anything else, I'm sure it'll be refined over time and the costs will come down.
  • This is good! I hope they have a great success, as I can see them being used like demountables are used on constructions sites.. Once there are enough of these we can start building a manufacturing base in space
  • I can see it now, "Deuce Bigelow: Extraterrestrial Gigolo".

    *shudder*

    -Peter

    • by kan0r (805166)

      I don't reply to ACs. If what you have to say isn't important enough to log in, why should I bother to reply?
      Because they might be someone who just stumbled over some article but still makes valid points?
      • That's a pretty good answer. (And I certainly read replies by ACs.)

        Here's a very interesting reply [slashdot.org] I received from an AC. Trouble is it's impossible to tell if subsequent replies are from the same AC, which, in turn, makes conversation impossible.

        Interestingly, someone else replied. I'd summarize that reply as, "Your post is interesting and worthwhile, you should take the trouble to log in."

        Anyway, it's my policy, and you aren't required to like it ;-)

        -Peter
  • I'm sure Rob Bigelow is a great guy, that said, if my last name was "Bigelow," I'd probably name my company after a planet, a big cat, or something catchy that you only find in a thesaurus.

    • by twostar (675002)
      but that's not how companies are named in the aero industry. Boeing, Lockheed, Martin, Mcdonald, Douglas, etc. Only recently have some companies been named other things.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Tuesday August 14, 2007 @10:38PM (#20232571) Journal
    I'm pretty excited about this news, as it seems like Bigelow might have his human-rated space station up and running as early as 2009. Here's the text of the official announcement:

    http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/multiverse/news.ph p#update [bigelowaerospace.com]

    Also, here's a pretty good article from Alan Boyle's Cosmic Log [msn.com].

    Hopefully SpaceX will have some successful launches soon, in order to provide Bigelow with a drastically more cost-effective way to launch modules and people. It'd be beautiful to see a SpaceX Dragon [wikipedia.org] crew capsule taking people up to Bigelow's Sundancer habitat.
  • Bigelow Aerospace. The tea that launched a thousand spaceships?
    • his aunt owns the tea and funded his initial start into hotels. If not for that, then he would not be here. But he is, so this is good.
  • The headline is a bit misleading - I've heard several interviews with Bigelow on Coast to Coast AM and AFAIK this habitat is not going to be "Manned", rather "Manned-capable". They are not sending up any people, not have any plans (or even launch vehicle) to do so. That said, I fully support what they're doing! We'll have the egg, now all we need is the creamy yolk stuff (i.e. people) to go inside. Not sure where the chicken fits in...
    • by ookabooka (731013)

      We'll have the egg, now all we need is the creamy yolk stuff (i.e. people) to go inside. Not sure where the chicken fits in...

      Chicken == God
      Creator of man and raw materials that are used to build this spacecraft.
  • Their website looks pretty crappy, but take a look at their job openings section:

    Astronauts
    Las Vegas, Nevada Facility

    Who May Apply:
    If you are an experienced Astronaut and would like to join our team, please apply at:

    Online or
    Fax Resume to 702.639.0881
    What about the Cosmonauts and Taikonauts, one wonders...
  • ... nobody is fast tracking a man-rated orbital launch and crew vehicle. Nor should they. They don't have a design that can be.

    SpaceX has altered their plans, but it's to make improvements to the design. Kistler is tearing itself apart again with its usual money flow induced turbulence and bad management induced harmonic oscillations in its structure; Rocketplane is probably sorry by now they teamed with them. And Rutan is dealing with his recent problem while keeping things on his planned track, and I'd tr
    • "Bigelow may well have his habitat ready sooner."

        That'd be a significant First. The habitat ready to go before the launch capability is there...

      SB
      • by FleaPlus (6935)

        That'd be a significant First. The habitat ready to go before the launch capability is there...
        That's pretty much the situation the International Space Station has been in for the past several years, with completed modules sitting around waiting until a shuttle can take them to orbit. ;)
        • Yeah, that was more or less what I was thinking of.

            Habitats built on demand that can be shipped up with minimal mass costs. Seems more efficient to me, if there's a way to ship them. Like a workhorse payload launcher.

          SB
  • The Sundancer module will provide 180 cubic meters of habitable space and will come fully equipped with life-support systems, attitude control and on-orbit maneuverability, as well as reboost and deorbit capability
    Wait.. what? Attitude control? so if you're a bad astronaut... it'll spank you?
  • I remember reading when I was a mere youth, an SF book called "Bubbles in the Sky". My recollection is that it was by Frederick Pohl. For the last several years I have been trying to track down this book, without success. It might have been 1/2 of one of those pocket books with two novellas printed back-to-back. I even remember the picture on the front, kinda. When I read it the copy was already somewhat old, the pages already browned and somewhat brittled by oxidation.

    The story was about how the folks

The flow chart is a most thoroughly oversold piece of program documentation. -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"

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