Genesis Inflatable Space Craft
Yesterday a US tycoon, by means of a Russian space venture, lauched the Genesis inflatable spacecraft into high orbit. Apparently it uses a very flexible outer shell that is padded with layers made of tough materials including Kevlar (used in police vests). This allows the zepplin-like ship to withstand cosmic debris, such as micro meteors that zip around at thousands of miles per hour.
I find it encouraging that while the US government put $100 billion into the silly science project of the International space station, a vegas hotel-chain millionare pledges only 500 million and things move along fine. This is great news for the commercialization of space. Eventually Robert Bigelow wants to have a space hotel by joining several modules together. Well, I think he's the man to do it if anybody can, and he certainly seems motivated.
Back in 1967 there was a short science fiction story by Larry Niven, titled Flatlander, that made mention of an inflatable expansion bubble, a similiar type of craft that provides temporary space for cramped space travelers:
- "...The bubble had inflatable seats and an inflatable table and was there for exercise and killing time but it also provided a fine view; the surface was perfectly transparent.... "
Too bad Niven wasn't about patenting every idea he ever had, as modern corporate executives do. He could have engaged the newest hobby of profit by technology suit.