I was perusing the Wired Science feeds and ran across this:
The Russian space agency will soon have a new competitor for sending private citizens into space.
Robert Bigelow, the Las Vegas real estate and banking mogul, unveiled the business plan for Bigelow Aerospace, the company he founded to create commercial complexes in space. Bigelow envisions that the company can service two categories of clients by 2012: nations that have a space program but no launch facilities, dubbed sovereign clients, and international companies that want to conduct experiments in zero gravity, dubbed prime clients.
For countries, Bigelow plans to undercut the Russian space program’s current price to send a person to the International Space Station — $25 million — by 40 percent and allow the astronauts to stay nearly four times longer. While Microsoft Word developer Charles Simonyi paid $25 million for a week on the space station, Bigelow plans by 2012 to be able to house astronauts for four weeks for just under $15 million. Since launch costs are such a large part of the cost, staying up for another four weeks only costs another $3 million per astronaut.
The per-person rate is designed for countries that want to have good “hang time” in orbit, Bigelow said. He argued that having a destination other than the ISS will revolutionize the market for space.
“Our space history has been defined by the fact that there has only been a single destination from time to time to time,” Bigelow said. “And who is in control of that destination?”
Bigelow’s second set of clients, the Prime Clients, will be multinational corporations that want to do zero-G experiments but not launch their own hardware and build a support infrastructure. Prime Clients can lease a facility for $88 million per year or half a facility for $54 million a year. Month-to-month leasing is also available. All maintenance and supplies will be included, as well as astronaut and mission specialist training.
The plan will call for Bigelow to launch two payloads in 2010, a single payload in 2011, and quickly ramp up as clients hire the firm — to 30 launches by 2017. The company has spent $95 million so far to fund development of the commercial complexes and expects to spend a lot more. The benefit of the current business plan is that the company has couched it in terms that any real estate investor knows, Bigelow said.
“We have come up with a business plan that Wall Street understands,” he said.
You know … if I had that kind of money to waste, who’s to say I wouldn’t want to be hurled up into space too? LOL Seriously though, if done right, they could make a HUGE profit!