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”