Saturday, September 02, 2006

Go up young man!

I remember thinking a few years ago that space settlement would never become a practical reality until we had the equivalent of the Conestoga wagon. The wagon provided an economical means for transporting people and large amounts of cargo over difficult terrain. The fact that these vehicles were inexpensive to own and operate meant that a wide variety of people could use them for a wide variety of purposes. Commerce naturally ensued which, in turn, enabled rapid settlement to occur by providing a means to transport essential goods and supplies to those who chose to make a living on the frontier and would eventually call it home.

These thoughts returned to me recently while considering the successful launch and operation of the Genesis module by Bigelow Aerospace. It suddenly seemed obvious to me that the modules currently being designed and built by Bigelow Aerospace could very well be the predecessors of the modern equivalent to the Conestoga wagon. The only thing missing is a reliable propulsion module which can be maintained and refueled in space. Judging by some of the graphics depicted on the Bigelow Aerospace website, they may have had this sort of application in mind for future development.

I have more thoughts on other applications for Bigleow's inflatable structures as well as the use of flexible, yet very durable, building materials for construction of large scale structures in space. Hopefully I'll be able to get my thoughts organized before the servers at work come back up and I get sucked back into my research.

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