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posted by martyb on Wednesday February 21 2018, @02:50PM   Printer-friendly
from the To-the-Moon,-Alice^W-BigelowTo-the-Moon! dept.

Bigelow Aerospace has created a spinoff company that will manage its orbital space stations, and has announced plans for an inflatable module that would be even larger than the B330:

Bigelow Aerospace — the Las Vegas-based company manufacturing space habitats — is starting a spinoff venture aimed at managing any modules that the company deploys into space. Called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), the new company will be responsible for selling Bigelow's habitats to customers, such as NASA, foreign countries, and other private companies. But first, BSO will try to figure out what kind of business exists exactly in lower Earth orbit, the area of space where the ISS currently resides.

Bigelow makes habitats designed to expand. The densely packed modules launch on a rocket and then inflate once in space, providing more overall volume for astronauts to roam around. The company already has one of its prototype habitats in orbit right now: the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, which has been attached to the International Space Station since 2016. The BEAM has proven that Bigelow's expandable habitat technology not only works, but also holds up well against the space environment.

Now, Bigelow is focusing on its next space station design: the B330. The habitat is so named since it will have 330 cubic meters (or nearly 12,000 cubic feet) of interior volume when expanded in space. That's about one-third the volume provided by the ISS. Bigelow hopes to launch two B330s as early as 2021, on top of the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets, and the company even has plans to put a B330 around the Moon. After that, Bigelow has bigger plans to create a single station with 2.4 times the entire pressurized volume of the ISS, the company announced today. Such a huge station will need to be constructed in an entirely new manufacturing facility that Bigelow plans to build — though the company hasn't decided on a location yet.

Bigelow's BEAM is currently attached to the ISS and has a volume of about 16 cubic meters, which has been described as that of "a large closet with padded white walls". The B330 will have 330 cubic meters of pressurized volume. The newly proposed module is called the BA 2100, or "Olympus", with 2,250 cubic meters of volume, compared to the ISS's total 931 cubic meters. The mass of the BA 2100 could range from 65 to 100 metric tons, likely requiring a super-heavy launcher such as the SLS Block 1B/2 or SpaceX's BFR.

Also at Space News, Motherboard, and Space.com.

Related: How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022


Original Submission

Related Stories

How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently 56 comments

Howard Bloom has written a guest blog at Scientific American addressing the Trump Administration's plan to return to (orbit) the Moon. That mission would use the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, which have cost $18 billion through 2017 but are not expected to launch astronauts into space until around 2023. Bloom instead proposes using private industry to put a base on the Moon, using technology such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy (estimated $135 million per launch vs. $500 million for the Space Launch System) and Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable habitat modules:

[NASA's acting administrator Robert] Lightfoot's problem lies in the two pieces of NASA equipment he wants to work with: a rocket that's too expensive to fly and is years from completion—the Space Launch System; and a capsule that's far from ready to carry humans—the Orion. Neither the SLS nor the Orion are able to land on the Moon. Let me repeat that. Once these pieces of super-expensive equipment reach the moon's vicinity, they cannot land.

Who is able to land on the lunar surface? Elon Musk and Robert Bigelow. Musk's rockets—the Falcon and the soon-to-be-launched Falcon Heavy—are built to take off and land. So far their landing capabilities have been used to ease them down on earth. But the same technology, with a few tweaks, gives them the ability to land payloads on the surface of the Moon. Including humans. What's more, SpaceX's upcoming seven-passenger Dragon 2 capsule has already demonstrated its ability to gentle itself down to earth's surface. In other words, with a few modifications and equipment additions, Falcon rockets and Dragon capsules could be made Moon-ready.

[...] In 2000, Bigelow purchased a technology that Congress had ordered NASA to abandon: inflatable habitats. For the last sixteen years Bigelow and his company, Bigelow Aerospace, have been advancing inflatable habitat technology. Inflatable technology lets you squeeze a housing unit into a small package, carry it by rocket to a space destination, then blow it up like a balloon. Since the spring of 2016, Bigelow, a real estate developer and founder of the Budget Suites of America hotel chain, has had an inflatable habitat acting as a spare room at the International Space Station 220 miles above your head and mine. And Bigelow's been developing something far more ambitious—an inflatable Moon Base, that would use three of his 330-cubic-meter B330 modules. What's more, Bigelow has been developing a landing vehicle to bring his modules gently down to the Moon's surface.

[...] If NASA ditched the Space Launch System and the Orion, it would free up three billion dollars a year. That budget could speed the Moon-readiness of Bigelow's landing vehicles, not to mention SpaceX's Falcon rockets and could pay for lunar enhancements to manned Dragon 2 capsules. In fact, three billion dollars a year is far greater than what Bigelow and Musk would need. That budget would also allow NASA to bring Jeff Bezos into the race. And it would let NASA refocus its energy on earth-orbit and lunar-surface refueling stations...plus rovers, lunar construction equipment, and devices to turn lunar ice into rocket fuel, drinkable water, and breathable oxygen. Not to mention machines to turn lunar dust and rock into building materials.

An organization that Howard Bloom founded, The Space Development Steering Committee, has been short one member recently (Edgar Mitchell).


Original Submission

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station 7 comments

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, an experimental inflatable habitat/room attached to the International Space Station, will continue to be used for storage and radiation testing in the near future rather than being jettisoned to burn in Earth's atmosphere:

In a procurement filing, NASA said it was planning to issue a sole-source contract to Bigelow Aerospace in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 for engineering and other services related to extended use of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The planned contract, whose value was not disclosed, will cover three years with two additional one-year options.

BEAM was launched to the ISS in April 2016 and, a month and a half later, attached to the station and expanded to its full size. NASA planned to keep BEAM at the station for two years in order to perform engineering tests about the suitability of such expandable, or inflatable, modules for future use on the station or other missions. At the end of the two-year period, NASA planned to jettison BEAM and allow it to destructively reenter the atmosphere.

NASA now sees BEAM, in additional to an engineering testbed, as a place for additional storage on the ISS. "BEAM continues to demonstrate positive performance in space and initial studies have shown that it can be used long-term on the ISS to support the government's needs for on-orbit stowage and for technology demonstrations," the agency said in its procurement filing.

The agency expects to use BEAM to store more than 100 Cargo Transfer Bags, a standard unit of cargo storage on the station that measures about half a cubic meter. That will free up the equivalent of about four payload racks in other modules of the station for research. NASA will also continue to study the module's effectiveness for radiation and debris shielding.

Also at Ars Technica.


Original Submission

Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022 16 comments

In a move intended to align with the National Space Council's call for NASA to return to the Moon, the United Launch Alliance intends to launch a Bigelow Aerospace B330 inflatable module into low Earth orbit, and later boost it into lunar orbit using a rocket which can have propellant transferred to it from another rocket:

Bigelow Aerospace, a company devoted to manufacturing inflatable space habitats, says it's planning to put one of its modules into orbit around the Moon within the next five years. The module going to lunar space will be the B330, Bigelow's design concept for a standalone habitat that can function autonomously as a commercial space station. The plan is for the B330 to serve as something of a lunar depot, where private companies can test out new technologies, or where astronauts can stay to undergo training for deep space missions.

"Our lunar depot plan is a strong complement to other plans intended to eventually put people on Mars," Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a statement. "It will provide NASA and America with an exciting and financially practical success opportunity that can be accomplished in the short term."

To put the habitat in lunar orbit, Bigelow is looking to get a boost from the United Launch Alliance. The B330 is slated to launch on top of ULA's future rocket, the Vulcan, which is supposed to begin missions no earlier than 2019. The plan is for the Vulcan to loft the B330 into lower Earth orbit, where it will stay for one year to demonstrate that it works properly in space. During that time, Bigelow hopes to send supplies to the station and rotate crew members in and out every few months.

After that, it'll be time to send the module to the Moon. ULA will launch two more Vulcan rockets, leaving both of the vehicles' upper stages in orbit. Called ACES, for Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, these stages can remain in space, propelling other spacecraft to farther out destinations. ULA plans to transfer all of the propellant from one ACES to the other, using the fully fueled stage to propel the B330 the rest of the way to lunar orbit.

The B330 is the giant version of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module.

Previously: Moon Base Could Cost Just $10 Billion Due to New Technologies
Should We Skip Mars for Now and Go to the Moon Again?
How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Buzz Aldrin: Retire the ISS to Reach Mars
China to Send Potato Farming Test Probe to the Moon
Stephen Hawking Urges Nations to Pursue Lunar Base and Mars Landing
Lockheed Martin Repurposing Shuttle Cargo Module to Use for Lunar Orbiting Base (could they be joined together?)
ESA Expert Envisions "Moon Village" by 2030-2050
NASA and Roscosmos Sign Joint Statement on the Development of a Lunar Space Station
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station


Original Submission

Jeff Bezos Details Moon Settlement Ambitions in Interview 49 comments

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin are looking to partner with NASA and ESA to help create settlements on the Moon. However, he implied that he would fund development of such a project himself if governments don't:

Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos says his Blue Origin space venture will work with NASA as well as the European Space Agency to create a settlement on the moon. And even if Blue Origin can't strike public-private partnerships, Bezos will do what needs to be done to make it so, he said here at the International Space Development Conference on Friday night.

[...] To facilitate a return to the moon, Blue Origin has a lunar lander on the drawing boards that's designed to be capable of delivery 5 tons of payload to the lunar surface. That's hefty enough to be used for transporting people — and with enough support, it could start flying by the mid-2020s. Blue Origin has proposed building its Blue Moon lander under the terms of a public-private partnership with NASA. "By the way, we'll do that, even if NASA doesn't do it," Bezos said. "We'll do it eventually. We could do it a lot faster if there were a partnership."

[...] It's important to point out that moon settlement isn't just a NASA thing. Bezos told me he loves the European Space Agency's approach, known as the Moon Village. "The Moon Village concept has a nice property in that everybody basically just says, look, everybody builds their own lunar outpost, but let's do it close to each other. That way, if you need a cup of sugar, you can go over to the European Union lunar outpost and say, 'I got my powdered eggs, what have you got?' ... Obviously I'm being silly with the eggs, but there will be real things, like, 'Do you have some oxygen?' "

Sierra Nevada Corporation Shows Off an Inflatable Habitat 11 comments

One could fly to Mars in this spacious habitat and not go crazy

On Wednesday, Sierra Nevada Corporation—the company that makes aerospace equipment, not beer—showed off its proposed in-space habitat for the first time. The inflatable habitat is, first and foremost, large. It measures more than 8 meters long, and with a diameter of 8 meters has an internal volume of 300 cubic meters, which is about one-third the size of the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada developed this full-scale prototype under a NASA program that funded several companies to develop habitats that could be used for a space station in orbit around the Moon, as well as potentially serving as living quarters for a long-duration transit to and from Mars. As part of the program, NASA astronauts have, or will, spend three days living in and evaluating the prototypes built by Sierra Nevada, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Bigelow Aerospace.

The selling point for Sierra Nevada's habitat is its size, which is possible because the multi-layered fabric material can be compressed for launch, then expanded and outfitted as a habitat once in space. It can fit within a standard payload fairing used for launch vehicles such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan booster, or NASA's Space Launch System. It is light enough for any of those rockets to launch to the Moon.

[...] What this habitat does not presently have is an exact purpose. Lindsey said the inflatable habitat, which has some similarities in technology to Bigelow's expandable module attached to the International Space Station, could be sized for any number of missions, from a low-Earth orbit space station to a habitat on the surface of the Moon or Mars.

Where is Bigelow's B330?

Related: Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow Aerospace Forms New Company to Manage Space Stations, Announces Gigantic Inflatable Module


Original Submission

Nevada-Based Bigelow Aerospace Lays Off Entire Workforce 8 comments

Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce

Bigelow Aerospace, the company founded more than two decades ago to develop commercial space habitats, laid off all its employees March 23 in a move caused at least in part by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to sources familiar with the company's activities, Bigelow Aerospace's 68 employees were informed that they were being laid off, effective immediately. An additional 20 employees were laid off the previous week.

Those sources said that the company, based in North Las Vegas, Nevada, was halting operations because of what one person described as a "perfect storm of problems" that included the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive ordering all "nonessential" businesses to close.

[...] Robert Bigelow said in a Jan. 28 interview that his company declined to submit a proposal [for an ISS commercial module] to NASA because of financing concerns. NASA, at the time of the competition, said it projected providing up to $561 million to support both a commercial ISS module as well as a separate solicitation for a free-flying facility. "That was asking just too much" of the company, Bigelow said. "So we told NASA we had to bow out."

Previously:
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
Bigelow Aerospace Forms New Company to Manage Space Stations, Announces Gigantic Inflatable Module
Bigelow Aerospace Unveils B330 Inflatable Module Mock-Up

Related:
Sierra Nevada Corporation Shows Off an Inflatable Habitat
Expanding, And Eventually Replacing, The International Space Station


Original Submission

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  • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @03:45PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @03:45PM (#641191)
    ever posted

    the B330. The habitat is so named since it will have 330 cubic meters

    holy shit i bought a ticket for a whole seat but i only need the edgggggge

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:05PM (18 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:05PM (#641206)

    Well, for storage, ok, but for humans to hang out? No way! Make the thing transparent, and then we'll talk. The damn thing has got to have some windows at least. What's the point of going all the way up there if you can't enjoy the view? It's the best advertisement you could hope for. And no, video cameras and big screens won't cut it.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by takyon on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:13PM (13 children)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:13PM (#641209) Journal

      The ISS has this module [wikipedia.org], which has been "compared to the cockpit window of the Millennium Falcon."

      BEAM, B330, etc. are modular and will be attached to other modules. Getting a huge amount of space station volume with a low mass and number of launches is very valuable. Maybe you don't need a window in the part you're going to be sleeping in if that's just going to douse you with more radiation.

      You could have the equivalent of the Ender's Game Battle Room using a BA 2100. Compared to the relatively cramped corridors of the ISS.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:37PM (2 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:37PM (#641218) Homepage Journal

        Maybe you don't need a window in the part you're going to be sleeping in if that's just going to douse you with more radiation.

        People are going to PAY to get up there, then we're going to cheat them of their fair share of radiation? So, what are we going to do, if they insist on their ration of radiation? Just charge them extra?

        --
        "no more than 8 bullets in a round" - Joe Biden
        • (Score: 3, Funny) by takyon on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM (#641229) Journal

          We can put them in the room next to the fission reactor core.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM

          by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM (#641231)

          That's what the orbital resorts are for - you don't want rubbernecking tourists clogging up a serious space station anyway, people are trying to get work done.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:39PM (8 children)

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:39PM (#641272)

        > Compared to the relatively cramped corridors of the ISS.

        In zero-G, cramped corridors are a very useful feature.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 21 2018, @06:06PM (7 children)

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 21 2018, @06:06PM (#641284) Journal

          You just need the NASA equivalent of the Ruyi Jingu Bang [wikipedia.org] or the Grab It [freakinreviews.com] in order to pull or push people who are stuck floating in the center of the module.

          Hazing on the Bigelow Space Station: push/pull someone into the middle of the module until they are barely moving in any direction. Then see what they have to do to get to one of the walls.

          --
          [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
          • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @07:10PM (6 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @07:10PM (#641327)

            peeing would work. although I guess throwing up would be more spectacular; and probably much more likely, not that I think about it.

            • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday February 21 2018, @07:58PM (5 children)

              by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @07:58PM (#641364)

              Always keep white pepper in your pocket for emergencies.

              • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:23PM (4 children)

                by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:23PM (#641440) Journal

                Great, a cloud of pepper and snot suspended around the room in microgravity.

                --
                [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
                • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:47PM (3 children)

                  by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:47PM (#641467)

                  While that's unquestionably better than what the parent was proposing, I have to agree it's pretty bad.
                  Astronauts in the ISS are surrounded by a cloud of their own skin flakes, hairs, and other excretions. There's a reason it smells nasty, and has fans constantly circulating air around and through filters.

                  There's pretty good money to be made by the inventor of Space Roomba.

      • (Score: 2) by el_oscuro on Thursday February 22 2018, @03:18AM

        by el_oscuro (1711) on Thursday February 22 2018, @03:18AM (#641597)

        In Kerbal Space program, I have a contract to deploy a space station to Ike orbit with that exact module. I always wondered where it came from.

        --
        SoylentNews is Bacon! [nueskes.com]
    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:56PM (2 children)

      by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:56PM (#641227)

      > What's the point of going all the way up there if you can't enjoy the view?
      Hmm, let's see...
      The many advantages of free-fall.
      Lag-reducing proximity to telepresence robotics working outside
      The relative ease of traveling to other non-terrestrial locations

      >And no, video cameras and big screens won't cut it.
      Why ever not? Unlike earthly scenes, where binocular vision and other parallax effects are observable, everything in space, except the space-station itself, will be much too far away to for there to be any observable difference between different viewpoints. The only difference between a window and high-resolution screen behind a lens that puts its focal plane at infinity, will be the fact that the field of view on a TV screen doesn't change with your motion (i.e. there are no parallax effects with the "window frame") Though actually, there are a number of existing technologies that enable that as well. It's really easy for only one observer, you just have to track where their head is and update the display accordingly. Multiple observers require a screen capable of displaying different images to each observer, which is currently considerably more expensive. Or pseudo-holographic displays, which are mostly still in the early prototype stages.

      That's not to say an occasional observation dome wouldn't be a worthy addition, for psychological effects if nothing else, but you don't want that dramatically higher radiation dose, nor the much greater risk of vacuum breach, anyplace where you spend significant amounts of time. Basically, everything outside the space station is trying to kill you, and it's doing so with the implacable patience of the infinite void. Unless you're currently in the mood to contemplate that void, you want as much distance between you and it as possible.

      Besides which, very few people are going to go to space for the view. Aside from the Earth, you can very nearly the same view by lying out in a field on a dark night far less expensively, and with a lot more luxuries. If you want a view, go to a space resort - they'll probably all have observation bubbles attached to the far hatch of your inflatable room, along with a sign warning you of the dangers of spending too much time in the bubble, or leaving the door to it open. At least assuming you sprang for the deluxe suite, otherwise you'll just have to float on down to the cafe or one of the other public observation domes.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @08:21PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 21 2018, @08:21PM (#641380)

        Unlike earthly scenes, where binocular vision and other parallax effects are observable, everything in space, except the space-station itself, will be much too far away to for there to be any observable difference between different viewpoints.

        Oh? You've been? Or did you at least ask someone who has? Personally I think you don't know what you're talking about.

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Thursday February 22 2018, @04:11AM

          by Immerman (3985) on Thursday February 22 2018, @04:11AM (#641614)

          As I recall, the physics of the human eye limits perceptual distinction to things within several dozen miles - this side of the horizon. Earth is too far away for stereo vision to make a difference, and there's unlikely to be anything else big enough to see anywhere near that close to you.

          Sure, you could break out the binoculars, but that's what a genuine observation dome is for. Windows are there for looking out of when you want to look somewhere else.

          And consider - while actual screens have a great many limitations, augmented reality is fast approaching the point where you can easily paint a fully stereoscopic image "through" any wall or imaginary divider you like. No reason you couldn't strategically deploy cameras around the outside of the station, and virtually paint the walls transparent. Still not quite the same, but it'd be suicide to work in an office that really had that kind of view. And you can always float over to the the observation dome when you want to see it "for real". You can even wave to your friends back in the office, even if you can't see if they wave back.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:02PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday February 21 2018, @10:02PM (#641426) Journal

      Modules without windows are actually best for humans. Either for hanging out. Or copulating. Fewer non-inflatable modules can have windows. People visit them for a great view when they are not otherwise occupied.

      --
      I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
  • (Score: 2) by Tara Li on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM (3 children)

    by Tara Li (6248) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @04:58PM (#641230)

    The BA-2100 has been proposed for a long time now - at least a couple of years, I think. The spin-off is the big news. I wish Bigelow had been working with SpaceX all along, though - I expect they will be soon enough. If the BA-2100 comes in at the low end of the estimated mass, it could possibly be launched by a Falcon Heavy, though I think there might be volume constraints within the fairing - I seem to remember something along those lines being mentioned.

    Pressurized volume of the ISS is currently 931 m^2 - so three B330s up would double the available on-orbit shirt-sleeve space. A single BA-2100 would triple it by itself.

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Immerman on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:13PM

      by Immerman (3985) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:13PM (#641248)

      Longer than that I think. I want to say it was proposed right along with the 330, long before construction of the BEAM or its free-floating predecessor began.

      Could be the actual announcement is more in line with "we're now starting serious work on the design details", or even "are tooling up to start producing the things", rather than just a pie-in-the-sky long-term goal. Rather like SpaceX and the recent BFR announcement - the project has moved from "future goals" to "active business consideration". Would make sense too - now that there's actually a rocket that could (maybe) lift the thing, and SpaceX announcing another that could easily lift it within 5-10 years, they probably want to have something ready to ship as soon as possible. After all, their most profitable business window is potentially quite narrow, existing primarily between the point where we can launch such large things into space affordably, and when we can start building much more substantial structures from raw materials mined in space. That might only last a few decades, after which inflatable modules will likely become the the commodity "quick and flimsy" solution suitable primarily as spacecraft modules and initial planetary outposts, where more massive solutions present serious difficulties.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:26PM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Wednesday February 21 2018, @05:26PM (#641258) Journal

      I probably fucked up the part about BA-2100 since I hadn't heard of it or didn't remember it.

      Given the timeline, with the first B330s launched around 2021, I would expect BA-2100 to fly on a BFR rather than Falcon Heavy. BFR is planned for launches as soon as 2022-2024 and would replace both Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy due to its full reusability. It would be able to put a BA-2100 in LEO in reusable mode. So if a BA-2100 is going up a few years after 2021, BFR should be ready by then, even if delayed a bit.

      Much has been made of Falcon Heavy's ~5 years of delay, but a big factor was that Falcon Heavy consists of Falcon 9s strapped together. Falcon 9 evolved significantly since the Falcon Heavy was originally announced, gaining the ability to lift heavier payloads originally intended for Falcon Heavy and adding reusability features. I doubt the BFR launch timeframe is going to shift by 5 years.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday February 21 2018, @08:08PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday February 21 2018, @08:08PM (#641372)

        > I doubt the BFR launch timeframe is going to shift by 5 years.

        Per Musk track record, a two-years delay is the bare minimum.
        Besides that, the primary question is how many test flights will end up with Big Fireworks Report, causing people with precious cargo to wait until reliability improves. Getting that big of a rocket right the first time would be quite a feat (and a giant FU to SLS).

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