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The chart shows a size comparison between the current pathfinder modules Genesis I and II, the Galaxy module planned for 2008, and the future human-habitable modules Sundancer and BA 330.
Second launch takes firm closer to goal of deploying blow-up space stations

Bigelow Aerospace celebrated the launch of its second inflatable space module this week, marking a major step forward in the company's plan of building a fleet of "space habitat destinations."

The Las Vegas-based company announced on its website that it received the first pictures from the Genesis II spacecraft 90 minutes after it was launched on June 28 from the ISC Kosmotras Yasny Cosmodrome, located in the Orenburg region of Russia.

The low-resolution thumbnails, taken during the craft's solar panel deployment, provided confirmation that the Genesis II had reached its orbit and was beginning its inflation sequence.

The Genesis II is identical in size and appearance to Genesis I -- approximately 15 feet in length and about 6 feet in diameter at launch, inflating to 8 feet in diameter after reaching orbit.

The Genesis II differs from its predecessor primarily with respect to its payload. The latest spacecraft carries twice as many cameras -- 22 in all -- as well as an arsenal of additional sensors and avionics that were not included on Genesis I.

The new spacecraft is also loaded down with a variety of nonscientific paraphernalia, including boxes of cockroaches and scorpions, and other flotsam collected from paying participants in the Bigelow Aerospace “Fly your Stuff” program.

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By venny on 6/29/2007 8:59:46 AM , Rating: 1
wat they doing on a spacecraft? rofl!

RE: cockroaches?
By FITCamaro on 6/29/2007 11:24:13 AM , Rating: 1
Seeing if they can survive. They need to know if the balloon is habitable.

If you're going to speak, at least try to appear intelligent. "Wat" is not a word.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 11:32:41 AM , Rating: 1
Right. Because we all know the physiological and genetic construction of humans and cockroaches are SO very similar.
Talk about trying to appear intelligent.


RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 11:44:28 AM , Rating: 2
> "...and cockroaches are SO very similar."

At the DNA level, cockroaches and humans are roughly 99% similar. From a cosmic perspective, they're nearly identical.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 12:04:18 PM , Rating: 4
DNA comparison requires context to be meaningful. Granted that a human and ape are over 98% genetically identical, a human and any earthly DNA-based life form must be at least 25% identical. A human and a daffodil share common ancestry and their DNA is thus obliged to match more than 25% of the time. For the sake of argument let's say 33%.

The point is that to say we are one-third daffodils because our DNA matches that of a daffodil 33% of the time, is not profound, it's ridiculous. There is hardly any biological comparison you can make which will find us to be one-third daffodil, except perhaps the DNA.


RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 12:15:41 PM , Rating: 5
> "The point is that to say we are one-third daffodils because our DNA matches that of a daffodil 33% of the time, is not profound, it's ridiculous"

To you perhaps...but then you're a human. From the cosmic perspective, humans and cockroaches are almost identical. They require roughly similar conditions to survive. Water. Oxygen. Carbohydrate-based food. A similar range of temperatures-- a very narrow range by cosmic standards.

They are both multicellular organisms composed of carbon compounds...and many of the same proteins and enzymes are found in each. Similar homeostatic mechanisms. Both species contain two sexes, and breed in a nearly-identical manner. Both grow from a fertilized egg to maturity, and both have similar adaptations to stimuli.

From a perspective of biologic systems and all possible forms of life, humans and cockroaches are nearly identical. Don't be fooled by minor differences in outward form.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 12:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed, but I think these are more points of common ancestry then what I would consider modern day similarities in say, required living conditions. My original point, though in retrospect incorrectly stated, is that I don't think there is anything that could be learned from a box of roaches on a spacecraft that sensors and data readout would not capture. Please share if you feel differently.


RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 12:38:43 PM , Rating: 5
> "I don't think there is anything that could be learned from a box of roaches on a spacecraft that sensors and data readout would not capture..."

In theoretical terms, this isn't correct. You can only measure what you know about and can anticipate. What if we didn't know about ionizing radiation and sent humans for lengthy trips through the Van Allen belt without shielding? Our measuring of temperature and atmosphere would show everything was A-OK...yet people would still be dying from unknown causes.

In practical terms, though, this cockroach experiment isn't designed to tell us anything about the effects of space on humans. It's designed to tell us about its effects on cockroaches. They're being subjected to vacuum and extreme temperatures, to see how long they can live. Useful information? It will be one day, when we have to sterilize them from accidentially-contaminated space habitats.

And the results? Cockroaches can actually survive over two hours of full vacuum. Maybe they ARE a higher form of life.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 12:46:17 PM , Rating: 1
Touche'. As per usual, good insight and presentation.
You're one of the few posters on this site who usually have some validity to their statements. Keep it up.


RE: cockroaches?
By ThisSpaceForRent on 6/29/2007 1:11:08 PM , Rating: 2
They can survive two hours in a vacuum? Where did you find that at, cause I'm curious to read more about that. I would have figured that the fluids in the cockroach would have boiled because of the air pressure. If that's all true that's simply amazing, and scary at the sametime.

RE: cockroaches?
By stromgald on 6/29/2007 1:44:55 PM , Rating: 2
I wouldn't be surprised if cockroaches could survive for several minutes. They are extremely resilient and their exoskeleton provides more protection than our skin.

The whole idea that your blood would boil or you would freeze to death quickly in space is a myth. It would probably take several minutes before blood would start boiling, but the moisture in your eyes and tongue would have problems in 15 seconds.

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 3:58:41 PM , Rating: 3
> "They can survive two hours in a vacuum? Where did you find that at..."

RE: cockroaches?
By Hare on 6/29/2007 4:04:00 PM , Rating: 2
I'm personally not surprised. After all, we are talking about a bug that can live for days without its head...

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 4:51:23 PM , Rating: 5
> "After all, we are talking about a bug that can live for days without its head..."

Are we talking about cockroaches or forum posters?

RE: cockroaches?
By Rollomite on 6/29/2007 5:01:03 PM , Rating: 5
Are we talking about cockroaches or forum posters?

I think if we were talking about forum posters it would have read "After all, we are talking about a bug that can live for days with it's head up it's ass."


RE: cockroaches?
By iNGEN on 6/30/2007 10:05:26 AM , Rating: 2

RE: cockroaches?
By Hare on 6/29/2007 4:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Carbohydrate-based food.

Do you really need carbs? In ketosis you don't really need carbs as you are burning ketones.

RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 4:53:34 PM , Rating: 4
No, you are wrong. The base needs may seem the same as in the housekeeping and metabolic systems on the surface look the same, but they are regulated differently and response to extra and intra cellular signaling absolutely differently. Moreover, cockroaches and humans have many different metabolic pathways, such as we need more supplements (which we call vitamins) in our diet than any other creature on earth, while a cockroach can make Vitamin C and others internally. We and roaches are metabolically fundementally different--they are poikilotherms while we are endotherms, which arises from striking differences in how the cells metabolize sugars/fats, the speeds of their electron transport chains, and the very permeability of their mitochondrian membranes. When talking about survivability in harsh climates, roaches and humans are so radically different that no comparisons can be drawn. Cockroaches can survive on foods we can't. They aren't susceptible to the same diseases--likewise there are poisons for roaches that won't harm human beings (newer pest control agents can accomplish this by exploiting the unique physiology of insect cells). They also need far less oxygen, and can tolerate much larger temperature/pressure extremes. Heck, insects use many totally different transcription factors from humans, especially in development and status of the physiology after that. Afterall, we have an internalized skeletons, while they are protected by chitin--the same substance that your fingernails are made from, and thus have an entirely different growth scheme, timing, and mechanisms even in the adult forms. You are being fooled by minor similarities inwardly. That's why these roaches are on the ship for fun, because they cannot be used to scientifically test for survivability in the ships conditions for humans.

RE: cockroaches?
By Strunf on 6/29/2007 8:27:10 PM , Rating: 2
Breed in a nearly identical manner? Dude humans are mammals and cockroaches insects, one lays eggs the other doesn't, one has to feed its babies the other doesn't and so on...

PS: Don't be fooled by the "perspectives" cause they mean crap.

RE: cockroaches?
By Samus on 6/29/2007 3:54:33 PM , Rating: 2
it doesn't matter, they're seeing if the mofo's die from vacuum discharge, fry or freeze from hot or cold temperatures, and whether or not they can breath.

they would have used rats and stuff, but rats can only go two weeks without food and water. these guys can go months.

RE: cockroaches?
By spluurfg on 7/1/2007 3:21:37 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. I don't see why the original poster thinks it's such a bad idea. Sending cockroaches up there is practical. If they die, then we know we can't send humans because cockroaches are so extremely hardy. If they survive, we can upgrade to a mouse, then a dog, then a chimp, etc. (The Russians skipped straight to the dog...)

Maybe the OP would have preferred they don't send the cockroaches and get no value from that possible experiment.

RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 3:32:46 PM , Rating: 4
Whoa there, there is no way at all that a cockroach shares 99% DNA similarity with us. A chimpanzee, a creature that has the highest DNA similarity to us of all know living things is 98% similar. A dog is 96% similar. A cockroach, which is an invertebrate, not even of the same Phylum as us... it'd be incredible if it was in the 80's. Human and cockroach physiology are nothing alike except for the fact we are both eukaryots (and thus have the same housekeeping genes all eukaryots have, that that is it).

So, if a roach can survive on a ship, that's a good sign that it's holding its air. However, a roach could easily survive in conditions that are totally lethal to a human. So it is not really a test of if the inflatable station is completely habitable, but rather if it simply holds its air right and doesn't accumulate obviously dangerous gases. Just try to kill a roach on purpose and you'll see there's a world of difference in the vitality of roaches compared to humans.

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 4:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
> "There is no way at all that a cockroach shares 99% DNA similarity with us..."

You're right; its actually in around the 70% range, the same as drosophila melanogaster, and all other insects. Excuse my poetic license.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 4:11:40 PM , Rating: 4
85% of statistics are made up on the spot. =\


RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 4:40:30 PM , Rating: 4
Your poetic license was way overboard there unfortunately. As you know there are people who will read that and believe it : P.

Genetic similarities does not make physiological similarities (the difference internally between dogs and humans are great, and the genes are 96% similar as I pointed out. Grape based products and chocolate are extraordinarily poisonous to dogs while completely fine to humans), and something that's only 70% similar genetics wise might as well be from another planet. To compare survivability of cockroaches to humans is like comparing the surface conditions of the moon as being akin to that of the sun's chromosphere. That is why there were included onto the ship nonscientifically, as there is no way to compare their needs to our needs since they are absolutely different.

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 4:50:40 PM , Rating: 1
> "Your poetic license was way overboard there unfortunately."

Not really. It all depends on your frame of reference. Humans and roaches share 70% of all specific genes. So we are 70% similar--- compared to any creature which uses a chiral nucleic molecule to encode genetic structure.

Compared, however, to a creature from another planet, humans and roaches -- or even us and daffodils -- are 99% similar, simply by virtue of sharing even one dna-based gene in common.

> "To compare survivability of cockroaches to humans.."

I don't believe I did that at all. In fact, I specifically stated otherwise...that this experiment was designed to test cockroach survivability in space, not human.

RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 4:58:14 PM , Rating: 2
Oiy, just because we share the same mechanism for encoding data for the purpose of replication does not make us all that similar. Saying we are 99% similar even compared to some hypothetical extraterrestrial life form is bogus. 70% difference genetically is huge. Look at mammals which are very genetically similar yet vastly different in physiology. What works on a whale won't work on a human and vice versa--not just dose wise even when scaled for mass, but chemically. Even a slight change in a protein can totally change its chemical role and abilities. And that, the chemistry at the protein level, is what makes us what we are, not the DNA (which is only there to tell what proteins to make).

I'm a biologist, so I guess I take such licenses as foolishness. Don't draw too many parallels or you are kidding yourself into ignorance of the differences, and the reverse is also true.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 6/29/2007 5:13:04 PM , Rating: 2
So my original post was correct after all?


RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 5:39:37 PM , Rating: 2
Yes XD, I was trying to defend you all along. Though the article also made it clear this was sort of a "joke" thing. A cockroach wouldn't even be a suitable replacement for that canary in the mine.

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 10:44:54 PM , Rating: 2
> "I'm a biologist, so I guess I take such licenses as foolishness"

I'm sorry, but you can't see the forest for the trees. To a human-- most men, at least-- the difference between Kate Moss and Rosie O'Donnel is huge. To a biologist, the difference between drosophila melanogaster and drosophila simulans may be equally huge.

But the fact is, from a perspective of all possible forms of life, men and bugs are almost identical....because we evolved from the same ancestors, and our body chemistries are almost identical. The mere fact that we share ONE gene with a creature makes us pretty similar...and we don't share one gene with cockroaches, we share millions.

RE: cockroaches?
By Strunf on 6/30/2007 6:34:58 AM , Rating: 2
Dude diamonds and graphite have exactly the same chemical composition yet they are very different.

hmm humans only have like 25000 genes so how can we share millions with the cockroaches, if you speak of base pairs then humans have billions so sharing a couple millions with the cockroaches it doesn't make us any similar.

Stop your crappy "perspectives", heck do you even have any idea what "all possible forms of life" means, it's already impossible to figure out how many there are on earth now let along all the possible ones.

RE: cockroaches?
By masher2 on 6/30/2007 9:47:59 AM , Rating: 3
> "if you speak of base pairs then humans have billions so sharing a couple millions with the cockroaches it doesn't make us any similar"

In terms of hard numbers, we probably share about two billion base pairs with a cockroach, out of a sum total of 3 billion.

But you're still missing the point. Life doesn't have to be DNA-encoded. It doesn't even have to be carbon-based. Seen from the perspective of a non-carbon based lifeform, any two creatures that actually use the same nucleic acid to hold their genetic information are very similar, no matter their outward appearance. If those two organisms also share a common ancestor, require roughly the same temperature range and atmospheric conditions, have the same bilateral symmetry, can eat the same food, utilize the same means of sexual reproduction, and both grow their young from fertilized eggs, then they're nearly identical-- at least seen from the perspective of our hypothetical alien exo-biologist. Why, men and cockroaches are even almost identical in size, if you compare them to life such as a virus, or say a potential gaseous-based creature many millions of times larger than us.

On the taxonomy tree of terrestrial life, humans and roaches are widely separated. But that entire tree is just a tiny segment of one millions of times larger. Fill in the "cosmic tree" entirely, and humans and roaches will be sitting on the same branch.

RE: cockroaches?
By Vanilla Thunder on 7/2/2007 11:24:41 AM , Rating: 2
But the fact is, from a perspective of all possible forms of life, men and bugs are almost identical....

Wow. Come on man. This is reaching. Seriously.


RE: cockroaches?
By geddarkstorm on 6/29/2007 5:08:13 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and yes I saw you make that statement later about this testing cockroach survival (but still nonscientifically as stated in the article as it isn't serious nor nothing that hasn't been done), but that wasn't what the thread was originally about, so I was in part referring to its premise not just replying to you. Sorry for that confusion.

RE: cockroaches?
By Strunf on 6/29/2007 8:11:48 PM , Rating: 2
No way... the DNA is a sequence of different sizes and contents that vary from specie to specie and cockroaches aren't anywhere near to share 99% of their DNA with ours.

RE: cockroaches?
By thatguy39 on 6/29/2007 10:23:01 PM , Rating: 1
At the DNA level, cockroaches and humans are roughly 99% similar. From a cosmic perspective, they're nearly identical.

Cockroaches and humans 99% similar? Wrong. If you can provide a link to something so outrageous, that'd be great.

We only share 95% DNA with chimps so it can easily be said we aren't more closely related to roaches than we are to chimps.

Then... just because something shares a large amount of it's DNA doesn't mean on the "cosmic perspective" were close at all.

Venus and Earth are damn near identical in makeup, but are two completely different planets. On a "cosmic perspective" its not even close.

AND explain the idea of "cosmic perspective". All humans share 99.9% of our DNA but yet we enslave and persecute other people. Forget "cosmic perspective" and just get some PERSPECTIVE, period.

RE: cockroaches?
By roastmules on 7/2/2007 2:09:07 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the overly simplistic view of why I would think to put a cockroach in space:
Anyhere I can live, so can a cockroach. Anywhere a cockroach cannot live, neither can I.
In terms of the LSAT:
me live -> cockroach live (sufficient)
cockroach not live -> me not live (sufficient)

So, if the cockroaches die quickly, then so would people.
But the opposite isn't 100% true:
cockroach live -> me live (not sufficient logic).
But it's close enough to move on to test:
cockroach live -> mouse live -> monkey live -> human live...

So, from a galactic standpoint of what survives where, people are similar to roaches.

Also cockroaches are free, and they are not bound by much of the animal rights for scientific testing. After we find out that cockroaches can live, then we move on to mice. Mice are closer to humans, more indicitive of survival, and they are more costly from an animal rights perspective.

I'd figure that they can start with bugs, then small mammals, larger mammals (monkeys?, as in the past), then on to humans.

(Please forgive me if there's a condition where humans could live but cockroaches cannot.)

Space Whopper Hopper?
By therealnickdanger on 6/29/2007 9:10:21 AM , Rating: 3
I thought there was some sort of problem in space... something about little shards of metal traveling at 20,000 MPH or something to that effect. I suppose they could puncture a space shuttle just as easily, but something disturbs me about being inside a giant space-born Whopper Hopper.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By Gul Westfale on 6/29/2007 9:34:39 AM , Rating: 2
that is kind of the point. the reasoning seems to be that a hard surface would break when hit by a fast-moving object, but a softer surface would absorb the impact. when they say inflatable they don't mean el-cheapo kids' toys, i'm sure they're quite sturdy.

also, every pound of stuff that goes to the moon/space needs a disproportionally large amount of fuel to get there- i heard somewhere it was 23pounds of fuel per pound of material. so by making this simpler and inflatable maybe they are saving weight, and thus complexity/cost.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By Ringold on 6/29/2007 3:09:48 PM , Rating: 2
It's also technology that was originally thought of for use with the ISS, but later abandoned by the government. Being abandoned by NASA usually means it's a fantastic idea, and Bigelow picked up the tech on the cheap. This stuff is the future. It wasn't discussed above but he's already working on plans to assemble a station at a Lagrange point and slowly lowering it to a prepared location on the lunar surface -- insta-city.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By omnicronx on 6/29/2007 9:34:51 AM , Rating: 2
just because its inflatable doesnt make it a balloon waiting to pop, it must be protected in someway, as you mentioned tiny pieces of space particles do fly around all the time.. a main reason why space walking is so dangerous.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By jtdwab on 6/29/2007 9:49:14 AM , Rating: 3
One other point to remember some of the luner landers panels were the thickness of a couple sheets of aluminium foil. Much of that ship was very thin for weight. Once in orbit and extracted from its farrings it traveled to the moon and back with no protection.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By ksherman on 6/29/07, Rating: -1
RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By AsicsNow on 6/29/2007 10:03:20 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, and this is why it was a damn miracle they survived.

RE: Space Whopper Hopper?
By KristopherKubicki on 6/29/2007 11:35:13 AM , Rating: 4
You also have to keep in mind space is really empty -- maybe not in LEO, but in general there's really not much of anything up there.

This is partly why we can see billions of miles unobstructed, those little particles just aren't that common.

Plastics in space???
By AlvinCool on 6/29/2007 9:41:15 AM , Rating: 2
I worked for a company that made materials for the space station. The plastics, literally, come apart in those temps and zero gravity. And we spent millions on plastic trials. Its one thing inside the space station it's another to be outside.

You could easily be cought dead in one of these

RE: Plastics in space???
By FITCamaro on 6/29/2007 11:25:59 AM , Rating: 1
I'm sure they took that into consideration.

RE: Plastics in space???
By stromgald on 6/29/2007 12:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
It's not so much the gravity or temperatures. It's the low pressure. Plastics in near vacuum will "outgas" or basically turn into gas/vapor and disintegrate/weaken. Any plastic in space has to be either 1) enclosed in an area with some atmosphere or 2) some special (and most likely expensive) polymer.

By the way . . . where does the article mention plastic? Just because it's inflatable doesn't mean it's plastic. Fuel tanks on satellites are made of titanium, but increase by more than 10% in size on orbit due to their thin walls and the differential pressures.

RE: Plastics in space???
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 12:07:33 PM , Rating: 3
> "By the way . . . where does the article mention plastic? Just because it's inflatable doesn't mean it's plastic. "

Actually, it is plastic. Or rather, Vectran, which is an ultra-highstrength polyester, significantly stronger than Kevlar.

RE: Plastics in space???
By stromgald on 6/29/2007 1:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, cool stuff. Just looked up Vectran in wikipedia, it's some exotic plastic with good space heritage:
Perhaps most notably, Vectran is used as one of the five layers in NASA's current space suit design, and was the fabric used for the airbags on the Mars Pathfinder and twin Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit & Opportunity missions

By OxBow on 6/29/2007 9:58:46 AM , Rating: 4
Our first space vehicles weren't much more than balloons themselves. Most of the robustness for the shuttle, etc. comes from needing to deal with the atmosphere on re-entry, something these things don't need to worry about.

Micrometeorites can be very dangerous, however, they are also relatively rare. While one of these might be punctured by such, there is already tech to quickly (in some cases automatically) repair such holes.

Spacecraft are actually quite flimsy and delicate by terrestrial standards, but they become much stronger and usefull in microgravity and vacuum.

By gwynethgh on 6/29/2007 10:47:27 AM , Rating: 2
I expect it is layers of fancy fibreglasses and kevlars etc for necessary strength (inside air pressure) and impermeable membrane material for gas tightness. Maybe even a soft sealer for micro punctures. Smaller volume at launch and no need to design for the larger launch stresses of the empty tin cans (basically) of the current space station habs. Great idea. I understand NASA really liked these but the time frame or budget didn't support ISS use. nice to see private industry competing with NASA. It keeps them both on there toes

RE: Materials
By masher2 on 6/29/2007 11:02:28 AM , Rating: 2
These were actually proposed back in the early 1960s. Some SF authors such as Larry Niven even made inflateable "living bubbles" standard equipment on their spacecraft. I'm glad to see they're finally coming to fruition.

Who is going to be the first inhabitant?
By jmunjr on 6/29/2007 7:21:13 PM , Rating: 2
Is Rob Schneider going to be the first one to live in it?

By dice1111 on 7/3/2007 1:40:40 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe even Pauly Shore?

Keyhole, erm, bad.
By edpsx on 6/29/07, Rating: 0
RE: Keyhole, erm, bad.
By KaiserCSS on 6/29/2007 10:41:32 AM , Rating: 1
People who aren't 12 years old and know a bit more about the dynamics of space.


RE: Keyhole, erm, bad.
By edpsx on 6/29/2007 12:17:10 PM , Rating: 2
Well obviously my sarcasm wasnt big enough for you.

By JediJeb on 6/29/2007 4:18:11 PM , Rating: 3
When in space the materials are not subjected to the pressure stresses most people think they are. Normal atmospheric pressure is only approximately 14psi at sea level. 14psi in space would be equal to 14psig( g=gauge) which simply means 14psi above the surrounding pressure. So one of these inflated habitats would have the pressure of a mostly flat tire here on earth. Puncture resistance would be the most important factor to worry about.

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