BEIJING, June 2 (Xinhuanet) -- Launched aboard a
converted intercontinental ballistic missile July 12, 2006, a Genesis 1
inflatable module passed an orbital milestone last month after completing
its 10,000th orbit of the Earth.
Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace
launched Genesis 1 to test its ability to self-inflate and operate
in Earth orbit.
More than 660 days later, the spacecraft's exterior
cameras have taken some 14,000 images that include snapshots of all seven of
Earth's continents. Its solar panels have also continuously powered electrical
systems for about 15,840 hours, Bigelow said.
"Since it was lifted into orbit, Genesis 1 has
continued to perform its main mission to test and verify systems to be used in
future manned space habitats," Bigelow said in a statement. "Genesis 1 has
traveled the equivalent of more than 270 million miles, which would take it to
the moon and back 1,154 times."
Led by businessman Robert Bigelow, owner of the
Budget Suites of America hotel chain and other enterprises, Bigelow Aerospace
followed Genesis 1 with a successor, Genesis 2, in June 2007. That module also
continues to function as designed.
With a length of about 14 feet (4.4 meters) and a
diameter of 8 feet (2.5 meters), the Genesis modules are one-third scale
versions of Bigelow Aerospace's planned BA-330 modules for manned missions.
Bigelow Aerospace hopes to begin assembling its first
crewed station using its Sundancer module in about 2011.