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Inflatable Private Space Station Launched 233

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the springing-a-leak-a-real-bummer dept.
Anonymous_Space_Ranger writes "CNN is reporting that the first steps to have a private space station are underway in Russia. While today's launch is unmanned, it is designed to orbit the planet for 5 years while the durability of the design is tested and future flights are planned around it." From the article: "[Robert] Bigelow envisions building a private orbiting space complex by 2015 that would be made up of several expandable Genesis-like modules linked together and could be used as a hotel, or perhaps a science lab or college. He has committed $500 million toward the project."
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Inflatable Private Space Station Launched

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  • by andrewman327 (635952) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:20PM (#15707530) Homepage Journal
    I wonder how well a beer bong works in zero gravity...
  • by ScottLindner (954299) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:20PM (#15707531)
    I hope they don't let go of the string and let it float away!
  • by lecithin (745575) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:21PM (#15707533)
    "While today's launch is unmanned, it is designed to orbit the planet for 5 years while the durability of the design is tested and future flights are planned around it."

    Unfortunatly, the mission ended almost as fast as it started when they couldn't figure out how to get the air pump to work while in orbit.

    In almost related news, here is a cool pic taken today of the ISS transiting the sun during today's EVA:

    http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/satcom_transit s/discoveryiss_single.jpg [wanadoo-members.co.uk]
  • Does this.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:22PM (#15707544)
    iflatable space station come with inflatable space chicks?

    Ahhhh, thank you!

  • by putch (469506)
    private orbiting space complex by 2015 that would be made up of several expandable Genesis-like modules
    shit, didnt we learn ANYTHING from Star Trek 2 & 3?
  • by El_Smack (267329) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:26PM (#15707571)

    "could be used as a hotel, or perhaps a science lab or college."

    Riiiight. They will send people to college... in space. Well technically LEO, but whatever. On the other hand, drinking and having sex in 0 G does sound fun.
    • On the other hand, drinking and having sex in 0 G does sound fun.


      You underestimate the value of gravity when it comes to puking those drinks back up.

      -matthew
    • Maybe they could trail a huge banner behind it for advertising purposes (Trojan condoms: chosen by 9 out of 10 visitors of our orbiting sex-station!)
  • This just in! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gentimjs (930934) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:27PM (#15707580) Journal
    This just in! British secret agent lauches into orbit on an emergency launch of china's Shenzou space vehicle on a joint mission to combat the orbital battlestation of new supervillian!
    On a slightly more serious note, am I the only one who is weary of the "private" exploration of space, where the projects are controlled by individuals/companies rather than by the people as a whole? I mean, yeah its great for scientific advancment and all.. but the potential for abuse seems pretty severe....
  • Inflatable != weak (Score:5, Insightful)

    by andrewman327 (635952) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:28PM (#15707591) Homepage Journal
    Look at the Zodiac boats used as landing craft by the Navy SEALS. They are inflatable, but they are anything but weak. They are designed to operate in enviroments that we can only dream of and they survive. I am interested in following how this test project survives over the next five years. I am not entirely convinved that it will work (nothing in space exploration or habitation is ever 100%) but I would not be so quick to write it off as a sure failure.
    • "designed to operate in enviroments that we can only dream of"

      No, I think we all have firsthand experience with water.

    • nothing in space exploration or habitation is ever 100%


      Nothing in terrestrial exploration or habitation is ever 100% either.
    • It seems this point has to be made 3 or 4 times every time a submission about Bigelow comes up...and people still don't believe it. Zodiak boats are a perfect example of a robust inflatable structure. Another good example is a tire. Compare the impact resistance of those things to a thin sheet of aluminum!

      The inflatable module is really only different in that uses air pressure to maintain its shape instead of framework (actually, there is a framed core down the middle with avionics and inflation equipmen
  • by dschmelzer (198261) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:29PM (#15707598) Homepage
    About 2.5 hours from now, the module will phone home and we will get a better sense of how the module is doing. Here are some additional resources...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5173388.stm [bbc.co.uk]
    http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/060712_genesi s-1_launch.html [space.com]
    http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/ [bigelowaerospace.com]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Aerospace [wikipedia.org]
    • I've been keeping half an eye on this company for a while, but haven't seen anything in the news for a few months before today's launch. Their website doesn't seem to have any obvious links to updates ala spacex. Does anyone have a good link for keeping track of companies like this?

      • Your best bet is Clark Lindsay's RLV and Space Transport News.

        http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php [hobbyspace.com]

        You are right that Bigelow Aerospace isn't very press-savvy. But they seem to be remedying that problem slowly.
      • Thats because Robert Bigelow is camera shy and he really really doesnt like attention. Two years ago he gave a few phone interviews, and thats it. He keeps a low profile, with one warehouse in North Las Vegas, where Bigelow Aerospace is located.

        FWIW, he got his fortunes by starting the Budget Suites of America chain, and has a building (the Robert Bigelow Physics Building) named after him on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he has donated lots of money.
  • by Quaoar (614366) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:31PM (#15707607)
    The Russians just launched my girlfriend into space!
  • ...right before "Space Station" in the headline?

          Yeah, me neither.
  • great... (Score:4, Funny)

    by mottie (807927) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @03:33PM (#15707624)
    I can see the title now.. Robert Bigelow, Interplanetary Gigolo
  • "It carried photos of Bigelow employees and insects that scientists hope to study to determine how well they survive the flight."

    After a critical accident leading to the ship being sucked into a wormhole, gaint insect humaniods that look like Bigelow return and use his fortune to free all insect kind...
  • I'll bet they upgraded the inflatable autopilot from Airplane! [imdb.com]
  • ...will have somehwere to go for "recreration"... *wink* *wink* *nudge* *nudge*

    • I wonder how many people would be willing to be a prostitute in space? Aside from living in zero-g, putting "Space prostitute" on your tax forms would be fun.
      • I wonder how many people would be willing to be a prostitute in space? Aside from living in zero-g, putting "Space prostitute" on your tax forms would be fun.

        I can see it now... "So, Miss Buxom, it says here on your application to live on our new space station that you are a prostitute... tell us, exactly how do you see that benefitting the station?"

  • I used to know a guy in Blue Operations, the Bezos funded space venture run by Sci-fi guy Neal Stevenson. They were exploring ideas for cheap space launches, and one of them was a floating high altitude lighter than air lifted launch platform.

    Seems like a perfect match to supply the inflatable stations.

    • I used to know a guy in Blue Operations, the Bezos funded space venture run by Sci-fi guy Neal Stevenson. They were exploring ideas for cheap space launches, and one of them was a floating high altitude lighter than air lifted launch platform.

      Seems like a perfect match to supply the inflatable stations.


      A few comments/corrections:

      * It's Blue Origin, not Blue Operations

      * I'm pretty sure the company isn't run by Neal Stephenson, he's just an employee/consultant

      * I hadn't heard of Blue Origin pursuing airship-t
      • This was a few years ago, they were called Blue Opps then, though it seems I have heard of a name change.

        Neal really was running the show then as far as I know that hasn't changes, but I lost touch with my friend at Blue. Neal had a desk, showed up most days, head honcho. I met him there, in the "office / warehouse / industrial park." Asked him what he was working on. He gave me a vague answer about a trilogy which turned out to be the Baroque Cycle.

        They had lost of other low cost launch ideas, but redirec

  • Gentlemen! What you are now travelling in, high above the comforting embrace of mother earth, is the pinnacle of inflatable technolo *pop*>FWIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIZZZZZZZZ
  • Headache. (Score:2, Funny)

    by darcling (987237)
    It's going to suck to be the one who has to blow that up...
  • by dominux (731134) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:29PM (#15708103) Homepage
    a small bit of junk will go straight through the wall, this creates a hole, and a presure imbalance. The next layer in will be rapidly sucked towards the hole, but because the imact is unlikely to be exactly normal (90 degrees) to the surface the hole made in the inner layer won't line up with the hole in the outer layer, so it will make a seal. You could probably use the pressure imbalance to hold them together or have some magic glue on the inner walls. They can have lots of layers too. I imagine the walls could be a cellular foam like structure, maybe 10cm thick. Inflating the walls is also done by exploiting the pressure imbalance, each cell basically acting as a valve. The walls don't have to be inflated to a higher pressure than the internal pressure, from the inside they would feel spongy and soft, they would kind of self inflate like those camping mattresses.
  • by xp65 (988513) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:36PM (#15708155) Homepage

    You can find more technical details about the launch on the space fellowship: http://www.spacefellowship.com/News/?p=1614 [spacefellowship.com]

    We can expect video's and pictures, of the "living" annimals etc!

  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@NOsPAm.optonline.net> on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:41PM (#15708201) Journal
    ...it's a balloon!
  • by zlogic (892404) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @04:44PM (#15708225) Homepage
    What about traditional spacecraft? Most manned ships are in fact metallic balloons that have enormous inside pressure (compared to the outside). The only difference is that traditional metal spaceships don't ever change their size or shape. Oh, and BTW the Volga airlock made for the first Soviet EVA was made of fabric. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voskhod_2 [wikipedia.org]
  • The specs indicate that the walls are 16 inches thick. The advantage is that the walls bend and you can fold it up for easy transportation into space. I guess the guys that are complaining the 16 inches is to thin are the same guys that brag to women that their 4 inches is really 8. They lack real perception.
  • Hotel huh? (Score:2, Funny)

    by fishthegeek (943099)
    I can't wait to join the 22236 mile high club!!!!!!!!!
  • by geobeck (924637) on Wednesday July 12, 2006 @06:44PM (#15709077) Homepage

    ...several expandable Genesis-like modules...

    KHAAANNN!!!

  • by tqk (413719)
    It continues to astonish me that there are people out there who have $500 million (half a billion dollars!) to throw at a project as speculative as this. Certainly it's cool and I'd love to have one myself. This guy's able to throw $500 million at something just to see if there's anything there. Woof!

    I wish some (one!) of these guys would get it into their heads to toss me $100,000 to see if I might work/do something they might consider cool. I'd spend the rest of my life bouncing from country to countr

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