Robert Bigelow and Bigelow Aerospace
Mr. Robert Bigelow is the owner of the national U.S. hotel chain Budget Suites, which has earned him an immense amount of money. Fortunately, Robert Bigelow has expressed his willingness to invest a large part of his fortune into improving the situation of humanity. I have heard him speak, and he seems sincere.
In 1998, Robert Bigelow established a startup company called Bigelow Aerospace just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, and stated a willingness to invest around $500 million into Bigelow Aerospace, a statement he has repeated many times. Early on, Bigelow built a large complex. He has already invested approximately $200 million as of 2012.
Bigelow has been a secretive company at times, but its public dealings are well known. Its initial focus has been inflatable habitats, whereby after NASA abandoned work in that area due to budget competition (new ventures often cannot compete with established interests for more money), Bigelow picked up the work.
Inflatable habitats allow a rocket to launch a compact payload which then expands in space. Inflatables are also relatively lightweight and have other advantages over rigid habitats, including greater resistance to damage from micrometeors and space debris.
The modules are designed with a standard docking system so that multiple inflatable modules can be combined to form a private, commercial space station. The modules will also connect to the existing International Space Station (ISS).
Bigelow has built and launched inflatables on Russian rockets for testing in space, starting in 2006, and these are still operating.
Bigelow's target market is applications requiring human habitats, plus unmanned applications such as teleoperated biotech and pharmaceutical laboratories and other things.
Human habitats include orbital hotels and condominium complexes. This includes rotating, artificial gravity design configurations.
Bigelow has announced agreements with 7 countries to use Bigelow inflatables as of 2012.
In 2010, Bigelow started a manufacturing plant to produce modules for sale, and the first units are expected to be completed in 2012.
Bigelow provides price lists for a variety of products and services.
Bigelow personnel are known to include space resources advocates, and Bigelow has stated that the company intends to develop lunar applications as well.
Please see the links below for more information.