If some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals on the planet have their way, human beings will soon—very soon, in fact—be returning to the Moon. Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are all familiar names to most of the public, and if they are successful in their initiatives we may have to add “space entrepreneur” to their impressive list of business achievements.
But there’s another accomplished entrepreneur who’s gotten in on the act. So far, he’s the one who’s managed to successfully negotiate a deal with NASA to make amazing things happen.
This man’s name is Robert Bigelow. He is the president of Bigelow Aerospace and its offshoot company Bigelow Space Operations. Bigelow’s previous claim to fame was his intense involvement in UFO research, first through a private initiative called the National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS) and later in the employ of the U.S. Department of Defense.
Big-name players like Musk and Bezos have been talking about launching their own private space programs that could eventually lead to Moon travel or exploration. But it was the longtime UFO and paranormal enthusiast Bigelow who reached an agreement with NASA that put his company in the driver’s seat with respect to the commercialization of space.
This happened in 2013, when NASA and Bigelow Aerospace jointly announced they had reached an agreement to form a public-private partnership which could pave the way for the exploration and commercial development of the Moon, Mars and outer space itself.