September 21, 2006

A SPACE SCOOP LIVEBLOGGED FROM RAND SIMBERG:

Bigelow announced at lunch that he will be putting up a three-person space station in late 2009 or early 2010, about fifty percent bigger than an ISS module. He is putting up a destination in hopes that the transportation will come along (and in order to spur the transportation providers). Station will last for several years. Will be executing contracts in 2008 for transportation contracts to Sundancer. Expects between four and eight trips (people and cargo) per year, after six-month shakedown. Then trips will commence whenever transportation becomes available. 2012 will see the launch of another module providing 500 cubic meters of habitable volume. Will support sixteen launches a year for full utilization (again, cargo and people). Minimum three-week stay, but market limited at ten million, so wants to establish private astronaut program for other nations (this is not news). Make sixty instead of eleven countries with an astronaut corps. Could represent on the order of a billion a year in revenue. Launch estimates from fifty to a hundred million per flight. About time to take human spaceflight from the exclusive domain of governments. Will be changing that in the next half decade.

He also announced that he and Lockmart have a joint agreement to study what it will take to human rate the Atlas V for commercial passenger transport.

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