Aerospace entrepreneur Robert Bigelow unveiled plans Thursday for a craft known as The Guide. He gave few details but described it as a “flight-like testing unit” that is smaller than a car. He plans to have test flights in early 2014 at a dry lake near Alamo, about 100 miles north of Las Vegas, reports the Las Vegas Sun.
Bigelow, founder and president of North Las Vegas’ Bigelow Aerospace, said The Guide would be able to land as an operational base on the moon. He did not disclose its development costs but said he is “trying to get (it) in contract.” It’s the “simplest, least expensive base” he could build, as NASA looks more and more to the private sector for help with human space missions, Bigelow said.
|Proposed Bigelow Moon Base|
The deal “signals that NASA is open to working with the private sector on lunar activities even if the agency itself does not want to lead such an effort,” Scott Pace, director of the Space Policy Institute at George Washington University, said in a phone interview with BloombergBusiness.
NASA typically develops plans for various projects and then asks the private sector to contribute. With the study, agency officials decided to flip that process and ask companies from the get-go where they see business opportunities, said Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator of human exploration and operations at NASA