NASA to Spend $17 Million at North Las Vegas Busi - 8 News NOW

I-Team: NASA to Spend $17 Million at North Las Vegas Business

Posted: Updated:
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, and is a 13-by10-foot inflatable multi-purpose structure.  Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, and is a 13-by10-foot inflatable multi-purpose structure. Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace
The BEAM will attach to the International Space Station. Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace The BEAM will attach to the International Space Station. Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow has plans to build a private space station. Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace Bigelow has plans to build a private space station. Photo Courtesy: Bigelow Aerospace

NORTH LAS VEGAS -- NASA made a formal announcement Wednesday concerning a multi-million dollar deal reached with Bigelow Aerospace located in North Las Vegas.

The space agency will spend more than $17 million to purchase an expandable space module/habitat from Bigelow Aerospace. The inflatable structure will become a part of the International Space Station.

"The International Space Station is our stepping stone to the rest of the solar system," said Dr. Lori Garver, NASA deputy administrator.

NASA officials are excited about the deal they've struck with Bigelow Aerospace. It involves an object that looks like an oversized foil-wrapped baked potato. It is called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, and is a 13-by10-foot inflatable multi-purpose structure that will become an addition to the space station.

NASA will pay close to $18 million for the BEAM and plans to keep it attached to the ISS for at least two years. It took NASA 20 months to seal the deal, mostly because the ISS is so crucial to NASA's long range plans.

"It takes time. We wanted to do it right. The ISS is so important to us," Garver said.

Adding the first privately-produced module to the space station is important, both scientifically and symbolically. It is a major step toward the private development of Space, which NASA has encouraged, and it will give the astronaut crews a lot more room to do their work. It is also a huge step for the Bigelow company, which already has two of its spacecraft in orbit but will have a much higher international profile once its module is part of the ISS.

"What can I say? I'm, a dreamer and thankfully am married to someone who sees things the same way," said Robert Bigelow, the president and founder of Bigelow Aerospace.

In the middle of the news conference about the NASA deal, Bigelow slipped in a bombshell announcement that seemingly didn't register with the gathered media. When asked about how much he's spent form his own pocket so far to build the company and its product line, Bigelow made a startling statement about his plans.

"We've spent about $250 million so far, and I expect to spend another $250 million by 2016 when we will have two of our 330's ready to fly," he said.

Bigelow plans to build the solar system's first private space station and wants to have it in place 235 miles above the earth, within four years. It is an mind-numbing undertaking for one company.

Aerospace insiders told the I-Team that Bigelow has quietly undertaken a hiring frenzy, ramping up to build something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Bigelow has said previously that he already has memos of understanding with several governments. If all goes as planned, those customers, along with corporations, will soon have a place to send their astronauts and scientists.

The BEAM is expected to be attached in 2015. Bigelow Aerospace had previously planned to add 1,000 jobs at its North Las vegas plant but had to scale back because the transportation side of the private space efforts couldn't keep pace.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and KLAS. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.