Saturday, June 30, 2007

Genesis II- Updates from Bigelow Aerospace

See original announcement of the successful Genesis II launch.

Las Vegas, NV 06/28/07 – Bigelow Aerospace has established contact with its second pathfinder spacecraft, Genesis II. Launched earlier Thursday from Yasny, Russia, Mission Control in North Las Vegas, Nev., made first contact at 2:20 p.m. PDT. Continue Reading...

Image taken outside of Genesis II. Source: BigelowAerospace.com

Not only has it made first contact already but it has also confirmed that it is successfully expanded and functioning correctly. During the past two days it was also able to send back some pictures of inside and outside of the module. (Two are on this page; the rest can be seen here). In the image of the inside you can see pictures of items that people paid to have sent into space through the "Fly Your Stuff" program. Also, in the coming weeks, Genesis 2 will start up its Bingo in Space game.

Difference Between Genesis I and Genesis II
Inside of inflated module; photos from
"Fly Your Stuff" program visible. Source: BigelowAerospace.com
Though identical in size and appearance on the outside--approximately 15 feet (4.4 meters) in length and 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) in diameter at launch, expanding to 2.54 meters (eight feet) in diameter after expansion in orbit--the two crafts differ substantially on the inside. One of the biggest upgrades has been the number, quality, and type of cameras on board. The Genesis 2 has 22 cameras compared to Genesis 1's 13. There are articulated cameras using dual FireWire and Ethernet camera interfaces and also a wireless camera for more exterior images.

Inside, sensors have been greatly improved with the addition of extra pressure, temperature, attitude control, and radiation detection sensors. With the added devices the craft will be sending back much more information in order to better characterize the low Earth orbit to prepare for an eventual manned spacecraft. The new improvements to the equipment will also help with the new habitat on board. Air and water-handling control systems, environmental sensors along with robotic manipulators are a part of the new additions aiding in preparation for the eventual accommodation of larger life systems.

The Genesis 2 also used a multi-tank inflation system as opposed to the single-tank method used on the previous Genesis. The multi-tank design increases the reliability of the inflation process and is testing methods for using multiple gas supplies that will be needed for future manned vehicles. Lastly, on the exterior, extra layers have been added to the outer shield in order to aid against micro-meteoroid damage and thermal management.
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It's truly amazing that Bigelow Aerospace has encountered almost no problems during their launch and deployment of their first two spacecraft. If this is any indication of the kind of success they will have with future manned vehicles it's difficult not to get excited and even harder not to be able to imagine a big demand for jumping on board Bigelow's inflatable space hotel modules. All I can say is that the future of Bigelow Aerospace looks incredibly promising right now and that I can't wait to see what they unveil next.

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