Saturday, April 07, 2007

Will Bigelow Help Make Space Affordable? Authentic NASA Toys and Replicas

Image Credit: Bigelow Aerospace, via MSNBC)

(Hat Tip: Hobby Space)

With news of billionaires launching themselves into space, many people with less than seven figures on their hands wonder when it will be their turn to visit beyond the skies.

Although the price range may eventually drop for the moderately wealthy, Bigelow seems to be offering a common sense approach which resembles more of mortgaging a house rather than paying for the entire lot up front in cash.

(Aviation Week) One reason commercial space has been so slow to evolve is because it has required so much up front money from customers for such high risk ventures. Bigelow wants to reverse that.

"We will have milestones that it will be incumbent upon Bigelow to successfully pass before money is transitioned from being refundable to non refundable he said. "A big part of the message we will be conveying at the Space Symposium is "Look! We are not going to charge you an arm and a leg for the services that we are providing," he said.

"We think this will make the use of our orbital services very conductive for moderately funded organizations.["]

One interesting aspect about Bigelow is that it is one of the few (if only) space companies out there that does not have to rely on the backing of a billionaire (or government funds) to finance its trip to the stars.

Despite having the financial support of its founder, Robert T. Bigelow, Bigelow Aerospace has actually made a profit launching Genesis I (and soon Genesis II), enough to sustain this company without the help from its wealthy CEO.

(Aviation Week) "Up to this point we have spent about $90 million, but the good part is that its all been from cash flow, that's from net Bigelow Aerospace income.

"We have not been eating off one of our legs at a time to survive. We haven't been spending capital. In that regard, we are unique among the small wannabe aerospace companies.

Although Bigelow is presenting a cost efficient way of returning to the cosmos, their space stations seem more geared towards servicing large corporations and governments, rather than civilians. With an expectation of 800 clients over the next decade, Bigelow may not look too appealing as an active force in colonizing our solar system.

However, they may provide a unique business model for companies such as Virgin Galactic, Benson Space, LiftPort, Space Adventures and others to follow, as financing a trip to space may be much easier than paying "an arm and a leg."

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You can either visit the stars or watch them from afar.

But if you choose the former, you'll definitely get a better view.

~Darnell Clayton, 2007

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