Bigelow Aerospace specializes in developing and building large, inflatable space habitats. These habitats are soft-bodied modules, which are launched while compressed and expand to full size once they reach space. Inflatable modules are designed to provide more livable space and more shielding against radiation than traditional aluminum ones.
Three such modules have already successfully been launched into space. The first two were un-crewed, but the third is attached to the International Space Station, serving as a warehouse since 2016. It is scheduled to remain throughout 2020. There have been no major issues or complications reported with the operation of this module.
Each one offers about 565 cubic feet of volume, but the company plans to start developing much larger versions. The new model, called the B330, is intended to be much larger, serving as a standalone station or linking up with other modules to offer additional space. These modules are built to orbit Earth as well as the moon. They could also be modified to attach to the moon’s surface.
To manage these private space stations, Bigelow Aerospace announced a new venture, Bigelow Space Operations. In addition to managing these space stations, Bigelow Space Operations was also created to conduct market research, determining what type of demand exists for this type of project and where the most promising customer bases exist.
The market research project is no small effort, with the company pledging to spend millions of dollars to determine what the global market may look like in the future. They believe these funds to be an investment in their future, hoping to lead the way in space exploration and habitation.
Bigelow Space Operations has already filled a few key positions, including a general counsel. They hope to hire approximately four dozen people this year, mostly in their research and development departments. The company indents to have a complete staff of about 400 individuals when the hiring is fully complete.