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Mon, May 14, 2012

Private Spacecraft To Service Private Space Stations

SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace Join Forces to Offer Crewed Missions To BA 330 Habitats

There will come a time when privately-held space stations orbit the Earth ... and it may be coming sooner than you think. But crews will have to be transported to those facilities, and that's where a company like SpaceX comes in. On Thursday, SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace (BA) said they have agreed to conduct a joint marketing effort focused on international customers. The two companies will offer rides on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, using the Falcon launch vehicle to carry passengers to Bigelow habitats orbiting the Earth.

According to Bigelow Aerospace’s President and Founder, Robert T. Bigelow, “We’re very excited to be working with our colleagues at SpaceX to present the unique services that our two companies can offer to international clientele. We’re eager to join them overseas to discuss the substantial benefits that BA 330 leasing can offer in combination with SpaceX transportation capabilities”.

The BA 330 is a habitat that will provide roughly 330 cubic meters of usable volume and can support a crew of up to six. Bigelow Aerospace plans to connect two or more BA 330s in orbit to provide national space agencies, companies, and universities with unparalleled access to the microgravity environment. “SpaceX and BA have a lot in common. Both companies were founded to help create a new era in space enterprise,” said SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell. “Together we will provide unique opportunities to entities -- whether nations or corporations -- wishing to have crewed access to the space environment for extended periods. I’m looking forward to working with Bigelow Aerospace and engaging with international customers,” Shotwell explained.

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will be capable of carrying seven passengers to orbit. With the company’s Falcon family of rockets, SpaceX is working to create the world’s safest human spaceflight system.

The companies will kick off their marketing effort in Asia. Representatives from Bigelow and SpaceX will meet with officials in Japan shortly after the next launch of the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft.



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