Another NewSpace firm was in the Cape Canaveral area Wednesday to ink a deal with Florida’s aerospace organization, Space Florida.
Space Florida President Frank DiBello and Bigelow Aerospace founder and president Robert Bigelow inked a deal to build an exhibit center that will showcase one-third scale replicas of Bigelow Aerospace’s proposed inflatable space stations. Two prototypes already have been sent into orbit via Russian rockets.
“My purpose by coming here today is to provide a message of hope, that this country is absolutely capable of taking charge of the future of space, not just bequeathing it to other countries and other nations,” said Bigelow. “The private sector in this country has the ambition and the chutzpah to go ahead and take this on.”
The marketing deal highlights growing interest of the emerging commercial aerospace industry in Florida’s established space infrastructure. Bigelow said much of his firm's space hardware may be launched from Florida, although he mentioned other U.S. launch facilities as well. Approximately 25 flights will be required to make Bigelow’s space station objectives a reality, he said.
“If you think about the process of a country or a major corporation wanting to fly something into space to conduct research, it’s not a simple device that they fly, it is a research program that they find that fits into a multi-year plan,” DiBello said. “It is a multi-year project for every one of these customers, we see this as an industry that we are growing – and this is a brick that were placing into the wall of that industry.”
New Space activities could well bring something very valuable back to the Space Coast region of Florida – as many as 1,800 jobs lost with the downturn in NASA business. Space Florida is the arm of the State of Florida that is responsible for economic development of aerospace business.
Founded in 1999, Bigelow Aerospace has flown its Genesis I and Genesis II prototypes on Russian Dnepr launchers. Bigelow said one of the main customers that his company hopes to attract is smaller nations that cannot afford their own space programs.