Bigelow Space Operations Reserves up to Four Dedicated SpaceX Launches to Space Station

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. (BSO PR) — On Friday, June 7, 2019, Bigelow Space Operations (BSO) announced that last September of 2018 BSO paid substantial sums as deposits and reservation fees to secure up to four SpaceX launches to the International Space Station (ISS). These launches are dedicated flights each carrying up to four people for a duration of one to possibly two months on the ISS.

BSO is excited about NASA’s announcements last Friday. BSO has demonstrated its sincerity and commitment to moving forward on NASA’s commercialization plans for the ISS through the execution of last September’s launch contracts. BSO intends to thoroughly digest all of the information that was dispersed last week so that all opportunities and obligations to properly conduct the flights and activities of new astronauts to the ISS can be responsibly performed.

In these early times, the seat cost will be targeted at approximately $52,000,000per person.

The next big question is when is this all going to happen? Once the SpaceX rocket and capsule are certified by NASA to fly people to the ISS, then this program can begin.

As you might imagine, as they say “the devil is in the details”, and there are many. But we are excited and optimistic that all of this can come together successfully, and BSO has skin in the game.

— Robert T. Bigelow President, Bigelow Space Operations

  • Jeff Smith

    2 thoughts:

    Good! I’m glad we might finally start seeing some of the promises of commercial spaceflight take shape. It’s been 15 years since SS1, and I’ve been waiting quite some time.

    And, BOY is commercial spaceflight pricey! $52mil is pretty expensive. I wonder how big the market will turn out to be…

    Either way, good luck!

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    About time we see the dynamic turn on between Bigellow and Musk. Perhaps there are known customers willing to pay those prices so they’ll fly them at that price first and expand the market later by lowering the price.

  • ThomasLMatula

    So much for Bigelow’s working with Boeing on the CST-100. This also has implications for finally deploying his BA-330.

  • Vladislaw

    @ seven seats it puts the launch in the 364 mil range.. of only four seats are filled on the launch it is 208 million per flight .. curious how much the F9 & Dragon 2 go for?

  • Jeff Smith

    We probably will never know the “cost” of each of these items. Everyone is taking their cut.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    If indeed Bigelow made this choice after the recent Dragon failure we should be finding out what made him turn away from Boeing in the coming months. If the Boeing program is in that kind of trouble, then we probably won’t see first crewed flight of either of these systems until next year.

  • windbourne

    and then some.

  • Jeff Smith

    Bigelow has been operating for HOW long? They need to cover some costs or else there’s never gonna be a “profitable” commercial space industry (for human spaceflight).

  • windbourne

    hopefully enough to get their BA-330 up to the ISS.
    We need it up there and for NASA to vet them as being safe for their astronauts.

  • windbourne

    I am guessing that BA turned away due to costs.
    And I suspect that we will see at least 1, and probably both, of these companies fly this year.

  • Jeff Smith

    I hope both BA and Axiom get something. The COTS/CommCrew/EELV/Lunar Landwr model is proving to be very effective.

  • therealdmt

    The flights were reserved before the recent Crew Dragon “anomaly”, specifically, back in September of 2018.

    As referenced in the above article and stated by Mr. Bigelow on his BSO website: “On Friday, June 7, 2019 Bigelow Space Operations (BSO) announced that last September of 2018 BSO paid substantial sums as deposits and reservation fees to secure up to four SpaceX launches to the International Space Station (ISS).”

    Link: https://www.bigelowspaceops.com/flytotheiss.php

    Bigelow sure must have swallowed hard when he saw that anomaly video…

    Still, it looks like NASA is confident that the Crew Dragon program is still progressing toward certification, and by proudly announcing his reservation and now re-stating it, Mr. Bigelow is showing he’s all-in, too

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Thanks for that.

  • Robert G. Oler

    I do as well…

  • Robert G. Oler

    In my view Trumps lunar goal will collapse shortly…but what will survive is the commercialization of the space station and this is essential…far more so than a lunar landing…

  • Paul_Scutts

    Na, therealmt. Robert Bigelow is an old hand when it comes to matters to do with aerospace (not his first time at the rodeo, not by a long shot) . He would just remember how SpaceX handled both times they lost Falcon 9’s. Just a hiccup and, when you think about it, a successful test – they found a problem and it will be fixed. Regards, Paul.

  • Robert G. Oler

    There is no doubt it will get fixed…the question is how long…

  • Steve

    There may be 4 seats filled, but only 1 can be a ISS tourist. The rest are NASA / ESA astronauts.

  • duheagle

    I suspect the reason for the $52 million ticket price is that NASA’s deal with SpaceX has a “most favored nation” clause that prevents SpaceX from charging another customer less for a seat than it does NASA. That would certainly apply to any mission on which NASA personnel fly. If it also applies to any F9-D2 mission that carries strictly commercial personnel, then, in order to lower the seat price to expand the market, SpaceX will have to give the same lower price to NASA.

    The next year or so might be quite interesting anent what SpaceX winds up charging for a D2 seat to ISS. I have no inside knowledge of what’s in the agreement NASA has with SpaceX anent CC missions vs. non-CC missions of D2 so I can’t make any firm predictions of what will happen. But, if SpaceX is allowed to charge however much – or little – it wants for seats on non-CC D2 missions, a major cut from the $52 million level could be a deployment decider for some or all of the commercial space station/platform companies now waiting in the wings. Alternatively, if there is a no-exceptions most-favored-nation clause in effect between NASA and SpaceX, but SpaceX can get enough hard-and-fast interest in using D2 ferry services on the part of these same firms, that could induce SpaceX to cut the price for everyone’s seats, including NASA’s.

    In either case, we could be seeing commercial human presence in LEO fairly soon, and in a fairly big way. ISS crew size is only six now and is slated to increase to seven once CC gets operational. If one or two co-located private LEO stations with a combined crew complement of seven were established, with crew rotations every three months, SpaceX could do four missions a year for the firms that owned said stations on a ride-sharing basis, cut the seat price in half – including for NASA – and make about as much money, or maybe even a bit more, per year as it would doing strictly NASA business to ISS at the $52 million rate.

  • duheagle

    Maybe not. My understanding is that B330 can’t fit in a standard SpaceX payload fairing so Bigelow went with a high-end Atlas V for deployments. That probably still applies. But the apparent switch to D2 from Starliner for crew rotations is very significant in its own right as that’s where the on-going costs are concentrated.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Why would they cut the price?

  • duheagle

    To expand the market.

  • ThomasLMatula

    The BA330 is designed to be free flying. It will be hard to attach something that big (1/3 the volume of the ISS) to the ISS.

  • Robert G. Oler

    why have they not done that with Falcon9?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Because SpaceX is following a pricing strategy of sliding down the demand curve, harvesting maximum profits while driving the competition under. In doing so they are generating the money they need to build the next generation, the Starship/Super Heavy, that will be more suitable for a penetration pricing strategy to drive their competitors from field.

  • redneck

    Unless of course, an even leaner meaner competitor shows up having learned the lessons from SpaceX before committing their own money. The list of things to do, and almost as many of not to do has expanded considerably in the last few years. Not straight copy which leaves one in the position of the leaders a few years back. Assimilate, innovate, and damn the torpedoes.

  • Robert G. Oler

    so, assuming you are correct (and I dont think you are but….), why would they cut the cost with crewed flights?

  • Robert G. Oler

    a far more likely assumption is Tom has no idea what he is talking about.

    there has never been a transportation system in the history of modern technology that is capable of a throughput faster (meaning both the operational cost can sustain a lower end price and the technology can sustain the higher tempo) than it is doing that does not lower prices to “get to that” throughput level.

    this 1 drives the compeition completely out of business and primes the pump for future technology efforts that can lower cost

    it would be like SWA saying “OK we can operate at Y and bring in “new customers” but we wont do that we will just oprerate at X and put Braniff out of business.

    this would be particularly accurate as the launch tempo slows down due to SpaceX well having launched the surplus market.

    the crewed flights might be different in terms of seat cost…but we will see.

    I suspect with the big boom they will be lucky to make any money on the crewed flights for sometime

  • ThomasLMatula

    They wouldn’t. That is just more idle speculation by folks who don’t understand how commercial markets works. You only cut prices when you have to meet the competition prices or the market demand is elastic at the current price point. Otherwise you just harvest the profits and pour it into R&D as SpaceX is doing.

    Driving your competition into the ground because you have deeper pockets is nice. Driving your competition into the ground while still making a profit is even better.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Your the one who hasn’t a clue about business strategy.

    Those examples of other transportation modes are based on elastic markets that are also driven by economies of scale that require high volume. Neither applies to space launch at the moment.

    Russia, ESA, Japan are not going to give up their launchers, nor will the federal government let ULA go under until a second commercial launch option is establish. So the basicmarket for SpaceX are the commercial satellites, which it is pursuing by under cutting its competition. It’s also using its launch cost advantage to create Starlink which feeds directly into end consumer demand.

    In terms of the ISS, there is probably only space on it for 1-2 tourists at a time, 4-8 a year, so why price lower when you are capacity limited? It’s just leaving money on the table.

  • windbourne

    how odd. You might want to tell Bigelow and NASA that these are supposed to be free fliying.
    BA always shows the BA330 attached to other BA-330s as well as attached to the ISS.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=ba-330+attached+to+iss&tbm=isch&source=lnms

  • Robert G. Oler

    “Those examples of other transportation modes are based on elastic
    markets that are also driven by economies of scale that require high
    volume. Neither applies to space launch at the moment. There simply
    isn’t any place for mobs of tourists to go, unlike with SWA.”

    Tom you are misstating the comparison here. its not about tourist…it is about your claim that Musk cannot orwill not lower the price to enable greater business…

    none of that makes sense when his business is suposdly built on reuse.

    the ISS market is quite different in theory from the launch vehicle market when in fact Elon seems to be building a rocket whose existance depends on being able to appeal to “non” traditional launch customers

    your piece is babble…either you dont understand the market as you claim or you cannot defend the point you make

  • Robert G. Oler

    You only cut prices when you have to meet the competition prices or the market demand is elastic at the current price point.”

    so the launch market is not elastic? IE lowering the cost will not expand the market?

  • duheagle

    They have. The Falcon 9 represents a big cut in launch cost vs. the vehicles that existed when it debuted. It still does. And the price of used boosters is even lower. The launch market has definitely expanded.

  • Lee

    Now if they could just get their refurbishment time below 76 days, I’d be impressed. As it stands, not so much.

  • Robert G. Oler

    there is no evidence of that