Private Space Station Prototype Beams Down New Images
A picture on the end of one of the aft solar arrays looks toward the midsection of Genesis 2 as well as the forward solar panels.
Credit: Bigelow Aerospace.

A day after launching into orbit, the privately-built Genesis 2 expandable module successfully relayed high-resolution images taken on June 29 during on-orbit checkout procedures.

The two pictures confirmed the operation of the inflatable module?s camera system followed by download to the Mission Operations center for the Las Vegas, Nevada-based spaceflight firm Bigelow Aerospace. The testing will continue as the ground team perfects the acquisition of the Genesis 2 signal.

A camera on the interior of Genesis 2 captures a test image of the expansive space created by the inflation technology. In this early stage of checkout, this image was taken without all the spacecraft interior lighting turned on.

A picture on the end of one of the aft solar arrays looks toward the midsection of Genesis 2 as well as the forward solar panels.

Genesis 2 is the second inflatable module launched by Bigelow Aerospace as a prototype for future commercial space stations in Earth orbit. The U.S. firm launched its first spacecraft Genesis 1 in July 2006, which remains operational today.

An ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket launched Genesis 2 into space on June 28. The 15-foot (4.4-meter) module inflatable module is designed to expand to a diameter of about eight feet (2.54 meters) and carries 22 onboard cameras to relay scenes from both inside and outside the spacecraft. Personal items from paying customers, a ?Biobox? with scorpions, ants and cockroaches, and a Space Bingo game are tucked inside the spacecraft as cargo.

Genesis 2 is also outfitted with two exterior projection systems designed to demonstrate the casting of messages onto the spacecraft's exterior "for ad purposes or just for fun," according to Robert Bigelow, head of the space company.