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Private Space Stations Could Orbit the Moon by 2020, Robert Bigelow Says

Bigelow, whose company, Bigelow Aerospace, has launched three private space-habitat prototypes into orbit — including the first inflatable space-station module, said that a commercial station in lunar orbit would be a vital destination for moon exploration. "The key is going to be how fast the Trump administration can react," Bigelow said in an interview Friday (March 3). The administration would have to move quickly "to energize funds and to galvanize the private sector" to make a lunar depot by end of 2020 possible, he added. Bigelow spoke with Space.com just days after the private spaceflight company SpaceX, founded by billionaire Elon Musk, announced that it will launch a private flight around the moon in 2018. On Feb. 26, Musk told reporters SpaceX had "significant deposits" from two as-yet unnamed individuals for a private trip around the moon aboard the company's Dragon crew capsule. The flight will launch on SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket, which is scheduled to make its first test flight later this year. "SpaceX has indicated that they can provide transportation for a circumlunar flight by 2018," Bigelow said. "If the timeline is met, SpaceX would be in a position to offer commercial transportation to the moon by 2020." Last week, another space entrepreneur — Amazon's billionaire founder Jeff Bezos — told the Washington Post that his private space company Blue Origin is eyeing its own plan for moon-bound spacecraft and a lunar lander. Read More: Space.com

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