Genesis 1, an inflatable module built by the Las Vegas, Nev.-based firm Bigelow Aerospace, passed the 10,000-orbit mark as it nears the beginning of its third year of unmanned operations, its builders announced late Thursday.Private enterprise at work.
Bigelow Aerospace launched Genesis 1 atop a converted intercontinental ballistic missile on July 12, 2006 to test its ability to self-inflate and operate in Earth orbit.
Now, more 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 Aerospace officials said.
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.
Bigelow is planning manned missions in 2011 with a differnt module.
Hat Tip: The Instapundit