Robert Bigelow

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Robert Bigelow
Robert Bigelow.jpg
Robert Thomas Bigelow

(1945-05-12) May 12, 1945 (age 76)
Alma materArizona State University

Robert Thomas Bigelow[1][2] (born May 12, 1945) is an American businessman. He owns the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.[3][4] Bigelow has used his wealth to provide financial support for investigations of UFOs and parapsychological topics, including the continuation of consciousness after death.[5] In 2011, Forbes estimated his net worth to be $700 million.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Bigelow grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, attended Highland Elementary School, and was first exposed to science through a number of the nuclear weapons tests conducted about 70 miles northwest of the city.[citation needed]

At age 12, Bigelow 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.[7]

He enrolled in the University of Nevada, Reno in 1962 to study banking and real estate, and he graduated from Arizona State University in 1967.[7]


Real estate[edit]

From the late 1960s[7] through the 1990s Bigelow developed commercial real estate hotels, motels and apartments.[8]

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."[7]


In 1995, Bigelow founded the National Institute for Discovery Science to research and advance study of various fringe sciences and paranormal topics, most notably ufology.[9] The organization researched cattle mutilation and black triangle reports, ultimately attributing the latter to the military.[10] The institute was disbanded in 2004.

In 1996, Bigelow purchased Skinwalker Ranch, a 480-acre cattle ranch located in Utah that some believe is the site of an interdimensional doorway used by alien shape-shifters.[11]

In December, 2017, Bigelow was reported by the New York Times to have urged Senator Harry Reid to initiate what became the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, a government study which operated from 2007 to 2012 tasked with the study of UFOs.[12][13] According to the New York Times, Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and have visited Earth.[14]

In June 2020, Bigelow founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support investigations into life after death.[5] In January 2021, he put up an award of US$1 million for anyone who could demonstrate the existence of a life after death.[15]

Aerospace development[edit]

In 1999, Bigelow founded Bigelow Aerospace.[16] Bigelow had indicated he planned to spend up to US$500 million to develop the first commercial space station with a goal of the station costing 33% of the US$1.5 billion that NASA expended on a single space shuttle mission.[17][18] Bigelow Aerospace has launched two experimental space modules, Genesis I in 2006 and Genesis II in 2007, and had planned for full-scale space habitats to be used as orbital hotels, research labs and factories.[19]

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.[8] In October 2017, Bigelow announced that he planned to put an inflatable "space hotel" into orbit by 2022.[20] The plan is part of partnership with United Launch Alliance, and the project is estimated to cost US$2.3 billion in total. The cost of a 3-day stay in this spatial hotel is estimated at 5 million dollars.[21]

In April 2016, Bigelow's BEAM module was launched to the International Space Station[8] on the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission.[22]

In March 2020, Bigelow Aerospace let go of all 88 members of staff and halted operations after over 20 years of business, in a move that was partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic.[23]

In March 2021, he sued NASA for US$1.05 million.[24]


He was mentioned in "The Space Travelers", a season 16 episode of the TV series Ancient Aliens as a business entrepreneur who is funding colonization of other planets.[citation needed]


  1. ^ "Las Vegas High School Alumni Association: Robert Thomas Bigelow - Class of 1962" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Nevada Marriage Index".
  3. ^ Pat (February 11, 2007). "Money Backing the Private Space Industry... Part 3--Robert Bigelow". The Space Monitor (blog).
  4. ^ Ewalt, David M. (June 8, 2011). "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
  5. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (January 24, 2021). "Buying a peek at the hereafter". New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  6. ^ Ewalt, David M. "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved June 8, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Higginbotham, Adam (May 2, 2013). "Robert Bigelow plans a real estate empire in space". BusinessWeek. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  8. ^ a b c Robison, Jennifer (March 10, 2013). "Nevadan at work: To the moon and beyond for Las Vegas developer". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Dorio, Mark (2005). Ufology: A Very Short Introduction. Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford. ISBN 1-4120-6473-2.
  10. ^ David, Leonard (September 2, 2004). "Silent Running: 'Black Triangle' Sightings on the Rise". Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  11. ^ Ewalt, David M. "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  12. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (December 16, 2017). "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program". New York Times.
  13. ^ Bender, Bryan (December 16, 2017). "The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs". Politico.
  14. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (December 16, 2017). "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program". The New York Times (in American English). ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  15. ^ George Knapp, Is there life after death? Businessman offers nearly $1 million to find out,, 23 January 2021
  16. ^ De Keyser, Sigurd (June 4, 2006). "Bigelow Aerospace; Russian Dnepr rocket to launch a 1/3-scale Genesis model". Space Fellowship News. International Space Fellowship. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Belfiore, Michael (2007). Rocketeers: how a visionary band of business leaders, engineers and pilots is boldly privatizing space. New York: Smithsonian Books. p. [1]. ISBN 978-0-06-114903-0.
  19. ^ Malik, Tariq; David, Leonard (June 28, 2007). "Bigelow's second orbital module launches into space". Purch. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
  20. ^ Haslet, Emma (October 19, 2017). "Beware Vermicious Knids: A US billionaire wants to launch an inflatable space hotel into lunar orbit by 2022". City AM.
  21. ^ Mark Whittington, Will a space hotel actually be open for business in 2027?,, 14 March 2021
  22. ^ Northon, Karen, ed. (April 8, 2016). "NASA Cargo Headed to Space Station Includes Habitat Prototype, Medical Research". NASA. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  23. ^ "Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce". SpaceNews (in American English). March 23, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  24. ^ Duncan Phenix, Robert Bigelow comments on $1.05 million lawsuit against NASA,, 30 March 2021

Further reading[edit]

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