Friday, April 20, 2007

Bigelow's Galaxy Module

There are a couple of new items up on the Bigelow Aerospace website. Here is a page showing a size comparison of the four modules that are currently being developed, and here is a page giving more details describing their next module, the Galaxy.

The article mentions that the Galaxy will have 45% more usable volume than the Genesis modules, but you sure couldn't tell that by looking at it in the size comparison graphic. However, if you do some simple calculations from the specs provided you can see that the outer volume is also increasing by about 50%. Galaxy is shorter by about half a meter, but it makes up for it by being about three-quarters of a meter wider.

The new module will also try out a number of new power, guidance, communication, and life support capabilities. Whereas the Genesis modules were designed to test out the technologies and techniques related to the flexible, inflatable structure, it appears that the Galaxy module will begin testing the more advanced systems which will eventually be needed by the habitable Sundancer and BA330 modules.

The first Galaxy module is currently schedule for a Fall 2008 launch. With the way things have been going in the launch industry that could easily slip into 2009. It's interesting to note that with the guidance updates and the addition of an access hatch, it might be possible to use the Galaxy module as a test platform to practice rendezvous, proximity and maybe even docking operations. This may be useful if, for any reason, the Sundancer module is delayed significantly beyond its 2009-2010 launch date.

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