October 20, 2011
Bigelow Aerospace Announces Lay-Offs
Bigelow Aerospace announced on Wednesday that it has laid off half its staff because of the delays in developing space taxis, Reuters reports.
The company, founded by hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, hoped to send its inflatable habitats for commercial and government lease to space.Bigelow believed space taxis would be available as early as 2015, but it seems those spacecraft are on track to not appear into space until at least 2016.
Until space taxis become available, NASA will be relying on Russia's Soyuz rockets to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Bigelow Aerospace plans to have a series of inflatable space habitats that can be used for research, tourism, manufacturing and other space activities.
NASA's goal is to turn over ferry flights from Russia to a U.S. company before the end of 2016. Russia is charging the U.S. space agency over $50 million per person for rides on its Soyuz capsules.
"We no longer can say with some certainty when the transportation is going to be there," Bigelow said while speaking with reporters after a speech at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight under way this week in Las Cruces.
He has agreements with other countries for use of its space habitats, and the company already has flown and tested two prototypes in orbit.
He said the cut-backs are bringing his 115-member workforce down to 51.
Image Caption: A full scale mockup of Bigelow Aerospace's Space Station Alpha inside their facility in Nevada. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
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