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Lockheed and Bigelow to Build Space Hotel 46

simonbp writes "Lockheed Martin and Bigelow Aerospace have entered into a deal to move towards the use of the Atlas V for private manned space flight ... A formal agreement between the two companies to study Atlas V feasibility for space tourism — including up to 16 launches a year — will be announced shortly. The initiative could radically transform both the 'New Space' and traditional launch marketplace... Bigelow Aerospace plans to build an orbiting hotel from inflatable modules for space tourists. The company is interested in Lockheed Martin's Atlas V to provide human and cargo transportation to their planned space station."
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Lockheed and Bigelow to Build Space Hotel

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  • Bigelow ??? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I didn't realize there's so much money in Tea [bigelowtea.com]!
  • atlas vs ares (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Keebler71 ( 520908 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:44PM (#16156695) Journal
    Before someone asks... The reason NASA chose to develop a new vehicle instead od using an EELV was because it was deemed practically impossible to modify the exisiting designs to accomodate humans. Specifically, these vehicles fly an extreme loft trajectory. In the event of an abort... the re-entry loads would likely not be survivable. By comparison, human-rated vehicle fly much 'flatter' trajectories.

    and yes...IAARS.

    • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:55PM (#16156785) Journal
      The reason for the NASA ESAS man-rating concerns was due to the 25mT CEV mass requirement, which ESAS maintained could not safely even be met by the massive Atlas V Heavy variant. According to a Lockheed Martin paper unveiled this week at the Space 2006 conference, the basic Atlas V 401 can meet FAA and NASA man-rating requirements with little modification with a much smaller capsule mass of 20,000 lbs.

      At 20,000 lbs, there is enough margin in the Atlas V 401's flight envelope to allow the crew to safely abort at any time during launch, closing all unsafe 'black-zones'. Also, at 20,000 lbs structural loads on the vehicle are decreased enough so that a detailed Lockheed analysis indicates that all primary structures meet NASA 1.4 Factor of Safety margins.


      It had more to do with the payload than the man-ratability. The design is "perfectly man-ratable" and has been discussed for **years**. Check out this article (which is what I cited) which states that with the reduction in mass full aborts from launch to orbit are attainable: here [nasaspaceflight.com].

      By the way let me be the first to say this is freaking cool. Between the quater billion LM has on the COTS [spacetoday.net] and the design of the CEV they have the potential to drastically reduce the cost of space flight for tourists and eventually private research. The reason the Atlas is so darn expensive is there are only a few launches a year. The bigleow deal increases that five-fold. Increasing launches decreases cost due to limited manufacturing runs. And repeated reliability is a Good Thing for the new emerging commercial space market.

      (IAARS)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) *
      Before someone asks... The reason NASA chose to develop a new vehicle instead od using an EELV was because it was deemed practically impossible to modify the exisiting designs to accomodate humans. Specifically, these vehicles fly an extreme loft trajectory. In the event of an abort... the re-entry loads would likely not be survivable. By comparison, human-rated vehicle fly much 'flatter' trajectories.

      and yes...IAARS.


      I'm curious about what your thoughts are on this part of the article:

      The reason for the NAS
    • Re:atlas vs ares (Score:4, Insightful)

      by georgewilliamherbert ( 211790 ) on Thursday September 21, 2006 @07:01PM (#16157653)

      I was the chief engineer of a CEV interested party and COTS bidder. The statement that "in the event of an abort, the re-entry loads would likely not be survivable" depends entirely on vehicle and vehicle heatshield design specifications, and abort scenario assumptions. Using parametric vehicle design assumptions as weak as early CEV assumptions, yes, you lose the vehicle and crew within a certain abort window when you're high but not moving fast enough sideways yet, and you end up with a rather brutal nonlifting reentry back into very dense atmosphere. Taking surviving that abort as a design requirement is a perfectly reasonable design constraint, and our COTS vehicle had lineage from that design requirement (for the Atlas-V, Delta-IV, and Falcon-0).

  • Where are the space prostitutes!?!
    Now there will be an explosive market!
    Where can I invest?
    • Don't forget unregulated gambeling.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jdray ( 645332 )
        Right.

        Craps: You throw the dice and they never land.
        Blackjack: The dealer throws out a card and it keeps spinning in the air.
        Roulette: Might work. It will just be a while before the wheel spins down.
        • Craps: You throw the dice and they never land.
          Solution to that is easy: MAGNETS!
          Blackjack: The dealer throws out a card and it keeps spinning in the air.
          I'm sure some sort of dealing machine could be devised that doesn't have this problem.
          Roulette: Might work. It will just be a while before the wheel spins down.
          I thought it was air resistance and not gravity that slowed down a roulette wheel...
      • Obligatory Futuramitization: Forget Bigelow. I'll build my own space station, with Blackjack and Hookers. On second thought, forget about the space station!
      • by CptNerd ( 455084 )
        Don't forget unregulated gambeling.

        As long as it doesn't lead to uncontrolled gymballing.

  • by dtolman ( 688781 ) <dtolman@yahoo.com> on Thursday September 21, 2006 @04:51PM (#16156745) Homepage
    It only has had 8 launches so far - are they that confident that it'll have around 100% reliability? Its a big difference when you lose an insured cargo to a launch failure, and a paying millionaire/billionaire with a team of lawyers and rich relatives...
    • by jpardey ( 569633 )
      I think the company will have a few advantages: more lawyers, more money, and waivers.
    • of a primary booster failure, your charred remains will be blasted into bits no larger than the nose hairs of a flea and scattered over an area half the size of Texas.

      Thank you for choosing Bigelow Spacelines and have nice flight.
      • by sirket ( 60694 )
        In the event of a total explosive failure your ashes will be scattered in space free of charge- an honor usually reserved for famous Science Fiction icons.
    • There's a big difference between insured cargo and paying passengers. The passengers will, according to the Lockheed plan, have an effective escape mechanism available throughout the launch. Maybe the Atlas V will have no better reliability than the Space Shuttle. The only damages the passengers of a failed launch will be able to recover after floating safely to the ground will involve bruises from the acceleration of the escape rockets and the rough landing that follows.
  • I can't afford a room with a nice view. I'll probably get one at the back of the hotel...facing the moon. Ick. :-(
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      It's just like cruise ships, the discount rooms have "curtains" that cover the wall.

      With my luck, I get to sleep near the rotational center of the craft (no view) where the lack of gravity gives me space sickness for the trip.

      *_# TZ_
    • by kmahan ( 80459 )
      I'll get the room next to the vending machines. Listening to the THUNK of cans of Coke or Pepsi (whichever pays for sponsorship) being dispensed is always fun.

      Actually it'll probably be the manuvering jets firing outside the wall all night.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Hinhule ( 811436 )
        Aww why did you have to go and put expectations on the poor vending machine makers, now they'll have to make a machine that sounds right without gravity.

        Oh well, maybe there'll be some fun stuff to read about some sucker who opens a can of Coke in that enviroment.
  • It probably won't be accessible by a great glass elevator, but they may want to watch out for Vermicious Knids [wikipedia.org], just the same.
  • I wonder how they plan to shield inflatable modules from radiation outside the atmosphere. "Inflatable" conjures up images of centimeter-thin latex in my mind, like a giant beach ball.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jdray ( 645332 )
      It doesn't take much to get the pertinent information [bigelowaerospace.com], seeing as how they publish it on their website.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by CPNABEND ( 742114 )
      IIRC, the first of the inflatables were going to put the drinking / cleaning water in the walls of the station. Water, I think, does a pretty good job of blocking radiation, and the walls are a fine place to store it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      > I wonder how they plan to shield inflatable modules
      > from radiation outside the atmosphere. "Inflatable"
      > conjures up images of centimeter-thin latex in my
      > mind, like a giant beach ball.

      1. If you had bothered to read http://www.bigelowaerospace.com/ [bigelowaerospace.com] you would have found that this is an 11" thick kevlar structure. Think of 11 inches of bullet proof vest material.

      2. Some say that it is impractical, but there is a module flying. Anyone who doesn't know that is not a nerd, and does not need to be
  • ...they name it the Velvet Comet [wikipedia.org].
  • Round-up of analysis (Score:5, Informative)

    by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) * on Thursday September 21, 2006 @05:50PM (#16157232) Journal
    (I've connected some analysis by various people in the space blogosphere, many of whom are current or former aerospace engineers)

    Clark Lindsay's RLV News, an (excellent) site for private spaceflight news, has some pretty good analysis of the deal. From his latest post:

    http://www.hobbyspace.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid =2397 [hobbyspace.com]

    * Even though it initially only involves a study into the possibility of Atlas V transport to the Bigelow station, just the fact that one of the largest aerospace companies is taking seriously the prospect of commercial manned spaceflight independent of NASA is going to have a big impact on attitudes towards it by NASA and other mainstream companies.

    * The high launch rates depend to some extent on space tourism but Bigelow is currently focusing on plans to convince a lot of the countries that currently do not have manned space capabilities to create their own astronaut programs and to center these programs around utilization of the Bigelow facility. The Lockheed deal should make it easier for Bigelow to convince such countries that the opportunities for space access to the facility are for real.

    * NASASpaceflight.com notes the potential impact on the COTS winners - SpaceX and Rocketplane-Kistler. However, if those companies succeed in their development plans, their reusable vehicles should be considerably cheaper to operate than the Atlas V. Also, I doubt that Bigelow would want to be dependent on just one vehicle and would most likely contract with at least one other transport company.

    * If this plan goes forward and Lockheed-Martin begins developing a manned version of the Atlas V, it's difficult to believe that NASA could continue with the Ares I/Orion program as currently configured. Arguing that the Orion couldn't possibly be made lighter is not going to be sufficient reason to justify a multi-billion dollar duplication of a launch capability that's available at a much lower price.


    From Selenian Boondocks:

    http://selenianboondocks.blogspot.com/2006/09/lock heedbigelow-space-tourism-deal.html [blogspot.com]

    * Lockheed has the contract for the Orion capsule, which means that they can probably piggy-back a lot of their space tourism capsule work off of what they're doing for Orion. Also, if they happen to be able to field their Atlas V tourism vehicle before Orion, they might be able to make out like total bandits--netting billions in development funds for something that they can turn around and say "look, we have a cheaper, and better alternative that's already on the market, --go with us, and you could save lots of money". The upshot being even more flights on their Atlas V. I think this is potentially win-win-win for Lockheed.

    * As LM has pointed out elsewhere a lot of the price hikes for Atlas V stem from the fact that they're only launching 2-4 of these per year. They have to cover all of their payroll costs, factory maintenance and upkeep costs, pad ops costs, etc but spread out over much fewer launches. At 2-4 flights per year, they're looking at $140M for their barebones Atlas V, while at 6-8 flights per year they were offering it initially for about $70M. At 20 flights per year, maybe they could cut the price down into the $35-50M range. At that point, the costs per person would be in the $5-10M range.

    * Bigelow has stated time and again that he's not in the orbital hotel business. He expects to make most of his money off of building space stations for research, manufacturing, providing low-cost space programs to countries not traditionally thought of as having space programs, as well as orbital tourism. A lot of those other markets aren't as sensitive to cost per ticket as they are to reliability of access. 16 flights per year means that you have a ride
  • Whether this is realistic or not, I just want to say that it is wonderful to hear that companies like Lockheed Martin (and other defense contracters) are really getting involved in the space tourism industry. If the private sector is ever going to get into space, its not going to be Virgin. Realistically the companies with the staff and infastructure to do it are Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Haliburton.

    And think if they could make a profit doing this! The way things currently are, it would be nice if the
  • Bigelow Aerospace plans to build an orbiting hotel.

    Hmm... Beigelow + Hotel rooms... I'm all for it, just so long as Roy Schneider doesn't use this to make a certain sequel.
  • If you build an inflatable structure for space, what do you inflate it with? Is there something that compresses down well that provides a reasonable form of insulation / protection?

If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work, the answer can be obtained by simple inspection.

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