The main questions people ask about Vegas property billionaire Robert Bigelow and his huge-inflatable-satellite-habitat plans are: can the man really be serious? Sure, fire a couple of test space-balloons into orbit on (relatively) cheap Russian rockets, he's done that. But will he really put up full-size inhabitable models? And …
Virtually Simulated AIMissions for Real Fancy Space Flights.
"He says he's willing to offer a $760m deal for eight launches to any company which can meet his criteria, which he will publish within weeks." .... http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/11/01/bigelow_orbit_launch_inflatable_space_habitat/
I see nothing on the Bigelow website. Anyone know where to find the Specs.?
And yes, that is a Serious Enquiry if somewhat Alien in Nature. And its Title gives you a Clue as to Matter for Discussion..... DeaLog. Venus/Mars/Moon Walks in the Parks.
Clearly a Bond villain!
A billionaire with a private fleet of space rockets? If movies have taught us anything, he's up to something dastardly...
Who would go up there?
I would. Living in a big balloon in space would be excellent. All I would want beyond food, water, computers is periodic shipments of amanita muscaria.
I Love this Guy
This dude is great, he's got the cash, he's got a vision and he's willing to spend to get it sorted. He's nuts and brilliant all at the same time and even if you don't like the idea at least the redistribution of wealth to the share holders and employees of the companies he hires is something to smile about
I wish this guy all the success in the world, GO Thunderbird Inflatable One! Its such a cool idea its got to work. After all the old maxim of it looks like it should fly then it will. Has he got a paypal donation button, i'd chuck him a tenner just for having a big pair of cash stuffed brass balls.
(Of course he may just be blofeld planning to do a moon raker on us)
Paris Hilton? Well he is such a good egg she should give him a freebie.
Not sure the Atlas is the best launcher for this stuff, and the fact that it is not man rated should worry some people that may take a journey. Launchers fueled with most cryogenic fuels always have the potential to explode, as opposed to launchers fueled with more complex compounds. Of course, the more complex compounds don't give you the lift per pound of propellant, and are usually vile substances and toxic...but they can be safer in the rocket. The shuttle is of course cryogenically fueled, as was the Saturn V, but they were designed as man-rated from the start, with all of the additional reduncancies and checks that that entails. Post man-rating a satellite launch vehicle? Hmmmm...
But the big question is micrometorites and space debris - I am just not sure how much protection you are getting in a Bigelow inflatable bungalow. Nor how much cosmic ray and radiation shielding exists.
Still, I wish him well...someone has to brave the frontier!!!
@I love this guy
"(Of course he may just be blofeld planning to do a moon raker on us)"
In the books it was Sir Hugo Drax.
OK, answered my own question...more details here:
He bought the bubble technology from NASA, which abandoned it's Transhab plans. It has an integrated micromideorite protection in the form of 5 carbon/foam layers, which are equivalent to 12 cm of aluminum. Not too shabby.
More details here:
But I'll tell you what is scary - the final sentances:
"Bigelow had several dozen subcontractors, often more than two on each subsystem, in order to reduce risk and identify the best and lowest cost solution through actual hardware evaluation rather than endless engineering study and paperwork. The entire development was kept very secret, and firm technical details were extremely scarce."
Wasn't that the way the Thunderbirds and their island base were built also???
"The shuttle is of course cryogenically fueled"
Apart of course from the effing great fireworks strapped either side of the main fuel tank. The ones that caused the Challenger accident...
If they can man rate the huge mess the shuutle represents then man rating the Atlas should be a cinch and the Atlas has a far better reliability record than the shuttle....
@ Robert Hill
"But the big question is micrometorites and space debris - I am just not sure how much protection you are getting in a Bigelow inflatable bungalow. Nor how much cosmic ray and radiation shielding exists."
Not much less protection than the ISS, really. Anything big enough to make a dangerously-large hole in the inflatable habitat would also be dangerous to the ISS; it's the internal atmosphere that really stops the micro-sized bits that do penetrate the outer shell. Make a double hull (which I would insist on, if I were going up) and there's less danger in the bubble than there is in a commercial airliner.
I suspect that the Bigelow Bubbles are in a low enough orbit that the same magnetic fields that protect you from harmful radiation in London, will also protect you in space. Haven't checked on it, really.
The Big Question
I rather thought The Big Question concerned the inconveniently local unshielded fusion reactor a mere eight light minutes away and how not to have one's 'nads singed off. Not much shielding value in your average sheet of poly, or even your extremely unaverage, special space poly come to that. Maybe the Mythbusters can adapt their recently demonstrated Lead Balloon technology to the cause.
I for one put little credence in the stories that these inflatable structures will actually form a network of bouncy orbital DeathSats, but would like to welcome our future despotic world ruler anyway on the offchance.
You don't need man-rated rockets...
just to launch the inflatable test stations. You only need man-rated rockets to get the punters up there once the foothold has been established - so he has a while to get the Atlas V's brought up to spec or an alternative built.
Good on him.
The likes of him and Branson should be applauded for their attempts to Get Things Done. Despite what those with their heads in the sand might think, we've got to get a foothold in space and start using it for energy and resources or we're screwed down here. The more people and agencies (NASA, ESA etc) working towards that end, the better.
Donating his billions to "the poor" might help a few people now, but spending his billions on space research, habitation etc will continue to benefit future generations.
OK, so he hopes to turn a buck or two with it and make a profit - but that will not invalidate the usefulness of whatever technology comes out of his quest. And frankly, if it came down to the wire and only the likes of Bigelow and Branson had the capability (using their commercial enterprises) to put power stations in space and harvest minerals from asteroids, I'd merely be glad there was someone up there capable of doing it - what's the difference between paying them and paying my local power company?
If he is planning to do a Moonraker
then I for one welcome my new overlord! Where can I get my nice yellow jumpsuit and laser gun?
I've also seen all the Bond films, so I'm an expert on security - DON'T tell him your plans, DON'T let him keep his watch / cigarette lighter / pen / car / girlfriend, just push him out the airlock the moment you get him.
PS My fiance looks cute in pigtails, can she come too?
Got to love him
In the day and age, when everything is 'risk-aversion'- this and 'cost effective'- that, here is a man who goes around yelling, "Get me a 50 Atlas rockets! I'm going to blast my next hotel to outer space!"
Been there, Done that, Bought the spacesuit
RE: Robert Hill's comment: "Not sure the Atlas is the best launcher for this stuff, and the fact that it is not man rated should worry some people that may take a journey. . . Post man-rating a satellite launch vehicle? Hmmmm..."
Obviously, Bob and others on this board are a bit too young of a lad (30 or under crowd); General Dynamics' Convair Division man-rated the original Atlas and Martin Corporation/Martin-Marietta did the same with their Titan ICBMs for projects Mercury and Gemini respectively back in the late '50s and early 60s.
I'm reasonably certain today's Lockheed Martin (the consolidated General Dynamics and Martin-Marietta companies) should be able to do the same with Atlas V, just as Boeing should be able to do so with their Delta IV (whose lineage goes back to McDonnell Douglas' THOR/Delta II/III vehicles).
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