If SpaceX founder and billionaire Elon Musk is preparing to send civilian space-tourist astronauts around the moon by the end of 2018, how about having a place they can stop while they’re out there? Take pictures? Buy souvenirs? Relax with some Tang?
Another New Space billionaire entrepreneur is floating that proposition, or something like it, Wednesday. By Twitter.
Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow‘s company makes in-space habitats. One is now attached to the International Space Station and he and his company are developing permanent, stand-alone habitats to serve as private space stations in orbit around the Earth, ready to house private astronauts.
As NASA tries to figure out how to get to Mars on its $20 billion a year budget, talk of going to the moon, or developing a base there or nearby, has been key. But NASA envisions spending billions of dollars for such a base, while Bigelow contends his costs about $500 million, with delivery costs extra.
And if given the chance, he could have one up in lunar orbit by 2020, he tweeted Wednesday.
Bigelow’s proposals likely would involve launches from Kennedy Space Center or Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, using SpaceX Falcon 9 and United Launch Alliance Atlas rockets to get his units into space. Once in space, he envisions them as commercial alternatives to the International Space Station for private research and civilian space tourism.
Bigelow’s dreams often have sounded as bold as those of Musk or Blue Origin’s Jeff Bezos, another New Space billionaire entrepreneur. They’re not without some measure of credibility, though several of his proposals have never gotten off the ground. Many in the space industry perceive his company as being the leader in developing future private space stations. Bigelow, like Musk and Bezos, is investing much of his own personal fortune to get the business up in the air, or beyond the air. And much like Musk and Bezos, he’s apparently starting a penchant to use twitter to communicate his New Space announcements. As for the viability of the technology, last year NASA installed Bigelow’s $18 million “Bigelow Expandable Activities Module” to the International Space Station, adding 16 cubic meters of living area, in a section that puffed out from the station like a Jiffy Pop popcorn tray.
Bigelow just opened himself a twitter account. And Tuesday and Wednesday he debuted it by tweeting promotions of his company’s B330 space human habitat module – suggesting it could be put into lunar orbit, by 2020.
Bigelow Aerospace describes the B330 as 57 feet long, capable of housing six people in 330 cubic meters of living space, with a 20-year lifespan. And B330s can be linked together for more and more room.
A Bigalow Aerospace spokesman was not immediately available Wednesday to comment on the bosses’ tweets.
Tuesday Bigelow tweeted:
Wednesday morning he added: