Thursday, July 13, 2006

Sometimes you can't make this stuff up

US millionaire launchs an inflatable watermelon filled with roaches and Mexican jumping beans into orbit

Model for an inflatable space hotel.
On 12 July, a rocket took off from a Russian base carrying, among other things, one miniature inflatable space hotel filled with a few cockroaches and several Mexican jumping beans. Borne aloft by a former intercontinental ballistic missile, Genesis I carried Robert Bigelow's dream of a functioning space hotel one step closer to reality.

Just over nine hours later, Bigelow Aerospace reported that its unit had successfully expanded, making those cockroaches and jumping beans the first guests to skitter around a 4-metre-wide watermelon-shaped hostelry, 550 kilometres above Earth.

A US hotelier and millionaire, Robert Bigelow's goal is to create a station at least three times the size of Genesis I, to host both researchers and holidaymakers. But for Bigelow's dream to become a reality, he will first have to convince the world that his inflatable designs can withstand the harsh environment beyond Earth's atmosphere.

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