Bigelow Aerospace has laid-off 40 of its 90 workers. All lay-off’s are in the group responsible for developing commercial inflatable space habitats. The reason cited was that the expectation that by 2014 or 2015 America would again be flying its own astronauts has proven to be overly optimistic and that BA 330 development and launch could precede by years the first launch of astronauts by domestic commercial crew launchers.
The 2002 Futron Space Tourism projections in the study, which was completed 9 years ago this month, of an explosion in space tourism are by now widely off the mark.
By way of example, the 2002 study predicted that from 2004 to 2011 a total of 6,032, with 1,692 in 2011, space tourism passengers would have flown suborbital missions and would have generated a total of $448 million, with $130 million in 2011, in total revenue. Meanwhile, no space tourists have yet flown either on suborbital or orbital flights. Nor has any revenue been generated from suborbital or orbital space tourists flights.
The reasons for such lack of progress are varied. The 2008 economic crash deflated the underlying business justification for the commercial human space tourism, along with the wealth of so many prospective space tourists. None of the space tourism companies were able to meet the development timelines they originally envisioned. And there were the unk-unk’s.
NASA’s CCDev efforts could be construed as an attempt to “build it and they will come”. Bigelow’s lay-off’s show that at least some in the marketplace are not so sure.