Robert Bigelow

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This article is about the hotel and aerospace entrepreneur. For the basketball player, see Bob Bigelow.
Robert Bigelow
Robert Bigelow.jpg
Born Robert T. Bigelow
1945 (age 70–71)
Residence Las Vegas, Nevada
Nationality American
Occupation Entrepreneur

Robert T. Bigelow (born 1945) is an American hotel and aerospace entrepreneur. He owns the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.[1] [2]


Bigelow grew up in Las Vegas, attended Highland Elementary School, and was first exposed to science through witnessing—from a distance—a number of the atomic tests conducted about 70 miles northwest of the city. Bigelow recounts that at age 12 he "decided that his future lay in space travel, despite his limitations [in mathematics, and] he resolved to choose a career that would make him rich enough that, one day, he could hire the scientific expertise required to launch his own space program. Until then, he would tell no one—not even his wife—about his ultimate goal."[3]

He entered the University of Nevada, Reno in 1962 to study banking and real estate, and he graduated from Arizona State University in 1967.[3]


After many years from the late 1960s[3] through the 1990s developing commercial real estate hotels, motels and apartments,[4] Bigelow founded Bigelow Aerospace in 1999[5]

In his real estate career, Bigelow built approximately 15,000 units, and purchased another 8,000. For most of his career, "he held on to almost everything he bought, but ... eventually unload[ed] much of his housing stock in the boom years immediately before the 2008 crash." In 2013, Bigelow reflected on this: "People just really wanted to throw money away, ... So that was lucky."[3]

Bigelow has indicated that he plans to spend up to US$500 million to develop the first commercial space station, the amount that NASA expends on a single space shuttle mission.[6]:10

Bigelow Aerospace has launched two experimental space modules, Genesis I and Genesis II, and has plans for full-scale manned space habitats to be used as orbital hotels, research labs and factories.[7] Bigelow is currently building the BEAM module for launch to the International Space Station,[4] with launch planned for 2016 on the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission.[8]

In 2013, Bigelow indicated that the reason he went into the commercial real estate business was to obtain the requisite resources to be able to fund a team developing space destinations.[4]


  1. ^ Pat (2007-02-11). "Money Backing the Private Space Industry... Part 3--Robert Bigelow". The Space Monitor (blog). 
  2. ^ Ewalt, David M. (2011-06-08). "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved 2012-10-22. 
  3. ^ a b c d Higginbotham, Adam (2013-05-02). "Robert Bigelow plans a real estate empire in space". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  4. ^ a b c Robison, Jennifer (2013-03-10). "Nevadan at work: To the moon and beyond for Las Vegas developer". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  5. ^ De Keyser, Sigurd (2006-06-04). "Bigelow Aerospace; Russian Dnepr rocket to launch a 1/3-scale Genesis model". Space Fellowship News. International Space Fellowship. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  6. ^ Belfiore, Michael (2007). Rocketeers: how a visionary band of business leaders, engineers, and pilots is boldly privatizing space. New York: Smithsonian Books. ISBN 978-0-06-114903-0. 
  7. ^ Malik, Tariq; David, Leonard (2007-06-28). "Bigelow's second orbital module launches into space". Purch. Retrieved 2009-12-26. 
  8. ^ Kauderer, Amiko, ed. (2013-01-16). "NASA to test Bigelow Expandable Module on Space Station". International Space Station News. NASA. Retrieved 2013-03-13. 

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