NLV company gets closer to building space stations - 8 News NOW

NLV company gets closer to building space stations

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NORTH LAS VEGAS -- A North Las Vegas company is moving towards the final frontier at a rocket's pace. Bigelow Aerospace plans to build two space stations by 2016.

Executives at Bigelow say the future in space is focused on privatization. They're building something they say will rival the International Space Station and Boeing plans to be the company sending people into space. It's a giant leap for the commercial sector. Bigelow Aerospace executives say with just a handful of launches they can build something bigger and better than the International Space Station.

"Three of these, four, would be bigger than the whole International Space Station and that took 20 something launches to build," said Jan Ingham, the vice president of manufacturing and assembly.



The company had a full-scale model of the station. It's where future explorers, researchers and even tourists might stay. The space station is inflatable and different areas can be used for sleeping, scientific testing and storage.

"This gets us reasonable access and it also puts more things between you and space. The more mass you put between you and the outside environment, the more radiation it absorbs and protects inhabitants inside," Ingham said.

Many companies and governments are interested in getting a foothold in the vastness of space. Bigelow plans to rent them real estate. The modules can float in low orbit and can be fitted to the customer's needs.

"A pharmaceutical company might want a very production heavy environment where they only need one or two people but a lot more equipment, but a space agency or a foreign government might want more people involved," Ingham said.
 
Boeing plans to be the shuttle company, launching people in nine-person pods.

"If we do take this to the next level where we are providing transportation to a Bigelow space station we'll see an uptick in the aerospace industry in the local economy," said Chris Ferguson, director of crew operations for the Boeing CST 100 Space Craft.

The plans are already having an effect here on earth and on Nevada's economy. Bigelow Aerospace doubled in size last year to 125 employees. Executives say that's just the beginning.

"If it's half the market we think it is, it will be huge for Nevada," Ingham said.

Bigelow Aerospace is also testing the "BEAM" which stands for Bigelow Expanded Activity Module that will launch next year and connect to the International Space Station.

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