Bigelow Aerospace and Space Florida announce exhibit center

by Jason Rhian on February 2, 2011

Space Florida and Bigelow Aerospace signed a Memorandum of Understanding to open an exhibit center on Florida's Space Coast. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

CAPE CANAVERAL – Another NewSpace firm was in the Cape Canaveral area to ink a deal with Florida’s aerospace organization, Space Florida, today. A meeting was held today at the Radisson Resort at the Port to discuss the partnership of Space Florida and Bigelow Aerospace to establish a exhibit center on the Space Coast. Numerous dignitaries and officials in the space industry attended as did elected officials such as Rep. Bill Posey. The brief session started at 1 p.m. EDT and lasted about an hour.

“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 Robert Bigelow founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace at the end of Wednesday’s meeting. “The private sector in this country has the ambition and the chutzpah to go ahead and take this on…”

Space Florida and the commercial space firm inked a deal to build an exhibit center that will showcase one-third scale replicas of Bigelow Aerospace’s inflatable space stations. Two prototypes of which have already been sent into orbit via Russian rockets. The exhibit will primarily be utilized for marketing purposes.

The event was closed with a signing of the Memorandum of Understanding and a brief question and answer session with those in attendance and the media.

Frank DiBello president of Space Florida shakes hans with Robert Bigelow, the founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

This new effort does however highlight the growing interest of the emerging commercial aerospace market in Florida’s established space infrastructure. Bigelow stated that it was possible that Florida could be the place where much of his firm’s hardware is launched from. However, he mentioned other U.S. launch facilities as well. Approximately 25 flights will be required to make Bigelow’s space station objectives a reality.

“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,” said Frank DiBello the president of Space Florida. “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.”

If Florida is selected this could well bring something very valuable back to the Space Coast region of Florida – jobs. These efforts could bring about 1,800 jobs to the area.

Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace discusses his plans for the future. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Space Florida is the arm of the State of Florida that is responsible for economic development of aerospace business. The organization was established by the Florida legislature back in 2006 from three separate entities, the Florida Aerospace Finance Corporation, the Florida Space Authority and the Florida Space Research Institute.

Bigelow Aerospace was founded in 1999 and it has since flown two prototypes into space Genesis I and Genesis II which were launched atop a Dnepr ICBM from the Dombarovskiy Cosmodrome in Russia. At the meeting in Cape Canaveral on Wednesday Bigelow stated that one of the main customers that his company is looking at is smaller nations that cannot afford their own space program and would like to send payloads into orbit.

Replicas of two of Bigelow Aerospace's spacecraft. The ones on display at the exhibit center will be one-third the size of the actual flight models. Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

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