Press Release

Bigelow Aerospace to Expedite Schedule and Move Ahead With First Manned Module

By SpaceRef Editor
August 13, 2007
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First, I would like to thank all of you who have written, called and otherwise expressed congratulations to myself and our team on the successful launch of Genesis II. The energy, enthusiasm and encouragement that we receive both here in the U.S. and abroad are an inspiration to us and part of the reason that we believe so strongly in the dream of entrepreneurial space development. I would like to take this opportunity to honor the interest and support that we’ve received from the general public by providing you with this update in regard to our future plans.

As anyone associated with the aerospace industry is aware, global launch costs have been rising rapidly over the course of the past few years. These price hikes have been most acute in Russia due to a number of factors including inflation, previously artificially low launch costs and the falling value of the U.S. dollar. What this now means for Bigelow Aerospace is that to conduct another subscale demonstrator mission would cost two to three times what it has in the past.

This dramatic rise in launch costs has forced us to rethink our strategy with Galaxy. Due to the fact that a high percentage of the systems Galaxy was meant to test can be effectively validated on a terrestrial basis, the technical value of launching the spacecraft — particularly after the successful launch of both Genesis I and II — is somewhat marginal. Therefore, we have decided to expedite our schedule yet again, and are now planning to move ahead directly with Bigelow Aerospace’s first human habitable spacecraft, the Sundancer.

We still intend to construct and test the Galaxy spacecraft and/or various parts of it in order to gain familiarity and experience with critical subsystems. However, by eliminating the launch of Galaxy, we believe that BA can move more expeditiously to our next step by focusing exclusively on the challenging and exciting task presented by the Sundancer program.

With this decision made, the future of entrepreneurial, private sector-driven space habitats and complexes could be arriving much earlier than any of us had previously anticipated. While recognizing the inherent difficulty, all of us at BA are eager to begin work on an actual human spaceflight program, which is the reason that I and others began this effort in the first place.

In the meantime, we now have two spacecraft in orbit — both of which we hope will produce invaluable data for years to come. It’s upon this solid foundation that we will be constructing our most ambitious spacecraft yet, the Sundancer. I will continue to keep you all apprised of our progress, and promise that every effort will be made at BA to ensure that this bold next step into human spaceflight will be a successful one.

— Robert T. Bigelow

SpaceRef staff editor.