Are we about to see commercial development of the Moon?
NASA and Nevada’s Bigelow Aerospace Company have just made a joint announcement about a public-private partnership which could pave the way for the exploration and commercial development of the moon , Mars and beyond.
The partnership, which cites plans to extend human civilization throughout the solar system, places Bigelow Aerospace Co., in the position of ‘general contractor’ for the commercial development of space.
Company Founder, Bob Bigelow, hasn’t hidden his interest in building a base on the surface of the moon using a series of his homegrown, inflatable habitats as the building blocks. "The brass ring for us is having a lunar base," he said. "That is an appetite and a desire that we've had for a long, long time."
Bigelow Aerospace will be the central link between NASA and dozens of private companies that want to play a role in the creation of a new ‘space economy’, including proposals far more complex than mere space tourism: research, manufacturing, medicine and agriculture. The agreement calls for Bigelow to liaise between NASA and the private sector to see how government and industry could help each other.
The partnership between NASA and Bigelow is clearly beneficial to both sides. NASA will stay out of the way of private enterprise and help where it can, and the private companies would pay for research, development and engineering of future spacecraft and bases which NASA could then lease at a fraction of the cost of building its own.