A Russian military base has launched the first prototype for what could eventually become a private-sector space station built up from inflatable modules, the company funding the project said Wednesday.
The Genesis 1 inflatable spacecraft, developed by Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, could take a significant step toward an era of privately funded hotels, labs and even sports complexes in space.The company’s founder, real-estate magnate Robert Bigelow, has reportedly committed $500 million to the inflatable-module project, with about $75 million spent so far. In an initial statement, Bigelow said Genesis 1 was successfully launched from Russia’s Dombarovsky missile base at 10:53 a.m. ET, atop a Soviet-era intercontinental ballistic missile that was converted to commercial use. – msnbc