NewSpace Alliance: SpaceX Falcon 9 to Loft Crews To Bigelow Space Stations

SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace have announced plans to market trips to Bigelow's orbiting habitats via SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. Image Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

NewSpace companies Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) and Bigelow Aerospace announced today that the commercial space firms will begin offering rides to Bigelow’s commercial space stations once they are on orbit and ready to receive guests. Both companies will work together on a joint marketing campaign with a special focus on international customers.

Passengers will launch in one of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft atop one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets. Once in orbit, the Dragon will rendezvous with one of the Bigelow habitats that have yet to go online.

Bigelow's BA 330 habitats are capable of being combined to form larger structures that could host larger crews. These structures could allow organizations to conduct microgravity research - that would not ordinarily be able to do so. Image Credit: Bigelow Aerospace

Bigelow Aerospace is developing the BA 330 space station for eventual deployment in space. The BA 330 habitat has approximately 330 cubic meters of usable volume, with the capability to support a six-person crew. These modules can be combined on orbit, creating a far larger complex.

Bigelow Aerospace already is working on plans to connect these modular habitats in orbit for a wide range of organizations. National and international space agencies, private companies and universities are all being courted as potential clients for microgravity experiments and access on the BA 330.

Sometime in the near future customers could fly to orbit in one of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to Bigelow space station's circling in low-Earth-orbit. Photo Credit: Alan Walters/

SpaceX has entered into numerous agreements and contracts with several companies, NASA and the U.S. Air Force. According to Elon Musk in 2008 stated that the commercial space firm had signed 14 contracts to launch payloads on the Falcon 9. SpaceX also has signed a contract with Iridium that is worth an estimated $3 billion. SpaceX, to date, has launched two of the Falcon 9 rockets that would serve as the launch vehicle for these contracts. SpaceX will attempt to launch the third on May 19 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-40 (SLC-40) in Florida.

If all goes according to plan with next week’s launch, representatives from both companies will start their marketing campaign in Asia. Japanese officials will meet up with the NewSpace duo to discuss potential future efforts.

SpaceX has entered into numerous arrangements to lift cargo and crew to orbit atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket. The company is set to launch the third of these rockets next week. Photo Credit: NASA



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One Comment

  1. This is the biggest news in Space a truly market driven approach off this rock….Quickly the market will be giving us all opportunities into space…At a fraction of the R&D Department (NASA)!!!

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