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space (spās) n. 1. space beyond the atmosphere of the earth.

prag·ma·tism (prgm-tzm) n. A way of approaching situations or solving problems that emphasizes practical applications and consequences.

Friday, July 28, 2006

High-Res Outside Photo of Genesis I

Bigelow Aerospace has just released a high resolution image of the outside of their Genesis I module. It is a lot longer than I thought it was. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Track the Genesis I Module

Bigelow Aerospace has added a map view and a world view tracking of the Genesis I module. Enjoy.

A History of the Genesis I Private Space Module

Bigelow Aerospace is developing the first private space station. A 1/3 scale model, called Genesis I, was launched on July 13, 2006. The inflatable structure of Genesis I is revolutionary, but it was hardy created overnight.

The Story of the Genesis I begins at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas in 1997.

Dr. William Schneider joined NASA in 1962 and went on to work as an Aerospace Engineer working on flight components for Apollo. He moved through different divisions at JSC until he was made Senior Engineer for Space Systems and Assistant Director for Engineering. In 1997 he created the basic architecture for the Transit Habitat or TransHab for short.

TransHab was designed to transport six astronauts on an interplanetary trip, such as a Mars mission. It was then chosen as a possible habitation module for the International Space Station in order to prove the concept.

A team of engineers, architects, and human factors experts at the Johnson Space Center developed the best size and layout for the spacecraft. TransHab was the first space habitat with a endoskeleton. It consisted of a dual system: a light, reconfigurable central structure and a deployable pressure shell. In order to deal with the riggers of space, the shell was made of several layers, each with its own specific purpose.

The layers allowed the TransHab, when inflated, to withstand up to 4 atmospheres, or 54 PSI, of pressure differential between interior and exterior. The shell also provides insulation from temperatures in space that can range from plus 121 degrees Celsius, or 250 degrees Fahrenheit, in the Sun to -128 degrees Celsius, or -200 degrees Fahrenheit, on the dark side. All this, while allowing 13,000 ft3 to fit a launch configuration of 14 ft in diameter. A standard exoskeleton would have a diameter of roughly 27 feet.

All these benefits made TransHab a potential miracle to NASA's Mars Design Reference Mission (DRM), as the crew habitat for the journey between planets. The plan was to launch the TransHab in a space shuttle bay, deflated, and packaged tight; once in orbit it can be unfolded, inflated, and deployed.

However, as Congress is apt to do in a budget crunch, TransHab was canceled in 2000. This is not the end of the story, but the beginning.

Robert Bigelow graduated from Arizona State University with a BS in Business Administration. He went out into the world and put his degree to good use. Budget Suites of America, founded by Mr. Bigelow and Bigelow Management Inc, is a multimillion dollar hotel chain in Nevada, Arizona, and Texas with it’s headquarters in Las Vegas.

Needless to say after this success, Mr. Bigelow was not hurting for money. It is at this point in their life, a person’s hobbies can become much more. Robert Bigelow started the National Institute for Discovery Science in 1995 in Las Vegas. Its mission was to engage in research of aerial phenomena, animal mutilations, and other related anomalous phenomena. However, research was halted in 2004 due to a lack of investigative work.

All the while, Mr. Bigelow started Bigelow Aerospace in 1999. His goal was to put ordinary people into space. When he heard the TransHab project was cancelled, he tracked down Dr. Schneider, who was now a Professor at Texas A&M University. Bigelow bought the exclusive development rights from NASA and entered into a Space Act Agreement with the agency to allow him to work with former TransHab engineers still employed there. To this day, TransHab engineers come to Bigelow’s plant and help to make this dream a reality.

This was no pet project for Robert Bigelow. Between 2002 and 2006 he invested $75 million dollars with a promise of up to $500 million. His goal was nothing short of a private Space Station orbiting the Earth. While this may have seemed “pie in the sky” a few years ago, Mr. Bigelow and his engineers were not deterred.

After the flights of SpaceShipOne and the now famous X-Prize, Bigelow launched his own prize, The American Space Prize. Mr. Bigelow put up $50 million of his own money to anyone who could launch five people to his station and bring them back safely by 2010. A tall order, to be sure, but we will see if it is doable.

Regardless of whether anyone could win this prize, Mr. Bigelow continued with his development of 1/3 scale model test modules to be launched in 2006. After rocket scheduling problems and the ever present ITAR paperwork, the date was set to launch on the ISC Kosmotras Dnepr on June 16, 2006.

As will most rocket launches this one was delayed. The new window was July 4 – July 14, 2006 and this time, nothing would stop Bigelow Aerospace. On July 13, 2006 the Dnepr Rocket lifted off with Genesis I securely attached.

Separation from the rocket was confirmed 14 minutes after launch. But communications from the craft would have to wait. SpaceQuest, of Arlington, VA, was contracted by Bigelow Aerospace to handle the initial communications. As the hour that link-up with Genesis I approached a power outage in Arlington, VA caused some amount of panic. Engineers literally ran an extension cord across the highway to a restaurant with power just in time to get the first hello world from Genesis I.

As it turned out Genesis I is in nearly perfect working order, an amazing achievement unto itself. Bigelow is not resting on his laurels, though. A second Genesis II is set to launch later this fall.

Space Pragmatism wishes everyone at Bigelow Aerospace all the best in their future launches.

Ad Astra per Ardua


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What is a Humanitarian?

Interesting take on what the word humanitarian means by Jonathan McGlumphy at Virginia Tech:

It is also of interest to compare Mr. Bezos to Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Both are clearly men of strong minds, as evidenced by their respective fortunes made in the technologies sector. The difference lies in how each has chosen to divest the large sums of money they have made. Mr. Gates has stepped down from a lead role in Microsoft to devote time to his charitable foundation that disburses substantial amounts of funds towards fighting AIDS and poverty in third-world nations — an endeavor that serves only select individuals.

Mr. Bezos, on the other hand, had chosen to invest his resources in an area that will ultimately benefit all of humanity. It is true that not everyone will reap the immediate benefits, but consider that it took decades for most of the world to have the wonderful inventions of electrical generation, motive power (be it steam or hydrocarbon), and telecommunications. Imagine where we would be if the financial backers of the Edisons, Bells, Watts, Ottos and Diesels of the world had chosen to give their money to the poor rather than the aforementioned pioneers of technology.

The greatest irony is that our society labels men like Gates as great humanitarians, but gives slanderous labels such as “greedy capitalist” to men like Bezos. Yet it is the Bezos of the world, along with the men of minds they finance, who will push humanity as a whole forward. As such, we should celebrate the triumphs of free minds and free markets over the altruism of those who would leave humanity in a position of stagnation.

Genesis I Dnepr Rocket Launch

The actual pictures of the Dnepr launch of the Genesis I Module are up on Bigelow Aerospace's website.

Book Signing of Von Neumann's War

If you live in the Huntsville area, this sounds like fun.

Travis Taylor and John Ringo (New York Times Best Selling author) will be signing their new science fiction book Von Neumann's War at BookMark, 7500 S Memorial Parkway, Suite 133, Huntsville, AL, 881-3910 on August 5 from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM. One attendee will win a dinner with the authors. Please come out and support one of our local authors.

Dateline July 26, 2006: Space News from the Internet

Some People Can't Do Math

This guy sure can't. Or else he can't read budget reports.

Space Frontier Foundation doesn't like NASA's Return to the Moon Plan

No! Really? I can't believe a free-enterprise loving, laissez-faire would have a problem with NASA's tax payer funded plan. But I am sure all they have are technical problems, no politics in this one :-) (Not that I disagree with them...)

Here is the entire paper.

Bigelow "Fly Your Stuff" Program is Open for Business

Bigelow Aerospace opened the "Fly Your Stuff" program yesterday. If you have any stuff you want to fly on Genesis II, they are launching later this year. Here are photos of stuff Bigelow employees flew on Genesis I.

Employees Stuff

Interior Photos of Genesis I by Bigelow

More photos released by Bigelow Aerospace. These are much higher quality. There is also what is described as a "magnetic experiment" inside a bode with Mexican jumping beans. Bigelow reports that the fly your stuff photos will be even higher quality than these.

Photo of the "Magnetic Experiment"

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Dateline July 20, 2006: Space News from the Internet

(Thanks to Curmudgeons Corner, NASA Watch, SpaceToday, & SpaceRef)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Spaceport America

Gene Grant has an article in the Albuquerque Tribune on the new name for
New Mexico's coming spacport, Spaceport America. I think he hits a lot of
the right ideas.

I love the symmetry of those Monday events, and I'm getting warm on this spaceport idea.

Cape Canaveral vs. Las Cruces. Shuttle missions vs. private rocket trips. Dreadnoughts vs. sloops. Sounds like a fair fight to me.
Florida has a creaky, bloated, politicized infrastructure that is in the
business of continuing a mission laid in its lap more than 40 years ago. We have a bunch of sand, new millennium partners and an attitude.

Ever watch "This Week at NASA" on cable? Not exactly the X Games. Interesting, yes, but only in the sense of doing what it can to maintain what is already in place. If the news of the shuttle landing safely Monday didn't exactly blip on your personal radar, you're in good company.

There's going to be a certain cut of kid who will be attracted to the mission of NASA and the security of a government-funded gig. But my guess is there's a another kind of kid, perhaps yet unborn, who will find the idea of solving the technical problems of private spaceflight in the middle of a far-flung renegade state much more appealing.

Call them the Pirates of the White Sands. I don't know about you, but I want those
kids here.

I think they are already born and they are the reason this is

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dateline July 18, 2006: Space News from the Internet

(Thanks to, Curmudgeons Corner, Comm Space Watch, NASA Spaceflight, Pulsar,, & Space Today)

Bigelow Video Clips of Genesis I

Bigelow Aerospace has two video clips of the Genesis I module. Kind'a like a washing machine.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Two more Genesis I Pictures Out

Bigelow Aerospace has released two more photos of the Genesis I module.

Dateline July 17, 2006: Space News from the Internet

The Space Review is out:

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Inside Story of Genesis

Bigelow Aerospace has published a piece on it's web site on the history of the Genesis I test module by Steve Pellegrino & Chris Reed. I have communicated with Chris and he seems like a good guy.

I liked some of the humanity of the story. As SpaceQuest engineers in Virginia were about to receive data from the module, they lost power due to a storm.

Desperate for power, they got all the extension cords they could find and went across the street to ask for help. The restaurant owner agreed to help and SpaceQuest had power.

"They ran the cords across the road to get power from the restaurant," Bigelow said. "Cars were driving across the cord as it powered their computers and receivers."

Genesis I Pictures from Bigelow Aerospace

The first photo has been released on Bigelow Aerospace's Web Site.

Blogroll Addition

At the request of Matt Scott, the editor, I have added the Beginner's Guide to
to the blog roll. Check it out.

More on Genesis I Photos

From Spaceflight Now:

Bigelow said the cameras positioned outside the module have been affected by poor resolution due to glare and other phenomena. The team is still looking to see the Genesis 1 name on the outer hull of the craft, and a few colors have been off, according to Bigelow.

Despite these minor issues, Bigelow seemed thrilled with the performance of the cameras as he explained details in each image. One clearly showed stars and another had a strange comet-like feature near the edge of the photo, Bigelow said.

So the cameras are working moderately well.

Much of the communication so far between Las Vegas-based ground control and Genesis 1 has been through UHF and VHF radio systems, which are primarily used
to relay telemetry data.

The S-band communications system allows the spacecraft to beam back data and images more rapidly than UHF or VHF. Once a good connection is made, images should flood into Bigelow's mission control room. When this occurs, a page on the company's web site will begin to refresh daily with new photos from the orbiting module.

Can't wait.

Even More Bigelow Aerospace News

More Genesis I news:

Dateline July 14, 2006: Space News from the Internet

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bigelow Aerospace Genesis Update July 13

Bigelow has posted an update on the Genesis module.

July 13, 2006

Genesis I Mission Update

4:30 PDT
All Systems are operating within expected parameters. Temperature, avionics, solar arrays and battery power all remain positive. All of our initial orbits have had direct sunlight, which has helped in charging the main battery to maximum capacity.

Pressure onboard the spacecraft has remained constant at 7.5 pounds per square inch (PSI).

We have had multiple contacts with the ship, and received several data streams. While most of these current communication streams are dedicated to command and control of the spacecraft, we have downloaded several small images from the onboard cameras and hope to get more as more bandwidth in the data stream becomes available.

- Robert T. Bigelow

Also, Alan Boyle has a blog entry on Genesis I at

More Bigelow Aerospace News

Here is a roundup of what I have so far from around the world:

More as I get it.

Video Interview and Tracking on Bigelow's Genesis

Channel 8 news in Las Vegas has an interview with Robert Bigelow online.

You can also track the Genesis I here. (Use the Hybrid button for best results.)

[update: Channel 3 also have a video interview.]

(Thanks to RLV and Space Transport News.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Bigelow Genesis Inflation and Comms are Good

According to Bigelow Aerospace, the Genesis I test module is communicating with the ground. It also finished expanding at 5:20 PST (7:20 CST). It is sitting at an altitude of about 334 miles. Everything looks good so far. I am waiting on the pictures with baited breath:

Genesis I Mission Update

5:20 PST
Bigelow Aerospace has received confirmation from the Genesis I spacecraft that it has successfully expanded.

We have also confirmed that all of the solar arrays have been deployed.

4:15 PST
Bigelow Aerospace mission control has begun to acquire information from the Genesis I spacecraft. The ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket has flawlessly delivered the Genesis I into the target orbit of 550km altitude at 64 degrees inclination. The internal battery is reporting a full charge of 26 volts, which leads us to believe that the solar arrays have deployed.

The internal temperature of the spacecraft is reported to be 26 degrees Celsius and we have acquired the spacecraft's Global Positioning System (GPS) signal that will enable us to track the ship in flight.

We have initiated communication with the ship's onboard computers and expect to download more information over the next few hours.

- Robert T. Bigelow

Bigelow Has Launched

Bigelow Aerospace has launched the Genesis-1 test module into orbit. Here is more information.

Seems like all is going well. I hope they post some photos from orbit when they are ready.

Sorry I haven't been posting, I am swamped in a refactoring effort at work and trying to get the Software Architecture out. Hopefully back to daily news next week. -djs