Bigelow Aerospace has big plans for its future expandable space stations, so it has formed a whole new company for them. Called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), the new private space company will oversee the marketing and customer service, as well as become the operations center for the space habitats its parent corporation is developing. If you’ll recall, Bigelow’s inflatable module BEAM is currently being tested aboard the ISS. It’s been doing so well NASA has decided to keep it around longer to be used as an on-orbit storage facility.
Company chief Robert Bigelow told reporters in a call that forming BSO is necessary as it segues “into becoming a production company” after existing as “a laboratory for 17 years.” Bigelow has far more ambitious plans for its creation: It’s already building two versions of the B330, an expandable module that’s much bigger than BEAM and can stay in space on its own. “These single structures that house humans on a permanent basis will be the largest, most complex structures ever known as stations for human use in space,” it said in its announcement. The company has long believed that its B330s could become standalone space stations in Low Earth Orbit that it even teamed up with ULA for its launch. More recently, it announced its plans to send a B330 space station to the lunar orbit by 2022.
Bigelow said it’s spending millions of dollars to study the space market and hiring 3 to 4 dozen employees for its new company. It’s also looking to build a new manufacturing facility in Florida, Alabama or another suitable place. If things go as planned and its space stations become operational, Bigelow expects to hire 400 to 500 more people to serve as BSO’s employees, providing support for its stations as they orbit the Earth and the moon.