In an interview with “60 Minutes,” real estate mogul and Bigelow Aerospace founder Robert Bigelow said he is “absolutely convinced” aliens have visited Earth.
In a wide-ranging discussion with Lara Logan, the 72-year old Bigelow said that extraterrestrials have visited the planet already.
“There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence,” Bigelow said. “And I spent millions and millions and millions — I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”
Bigelow who grew up in Las Vegas and still lives there, said that his grandparents had a close encounter with a UFO, which sparked his interested. “It really sped up and came right into their face and filled up the entire windshield of the car,” Bigelow stated. “And it took off at a right angle and shot off into the distance.”
The billionaire businessmen also said that he had close encounters himself, but would not go into further detail.
He said he did not care whether people thought he was crazy when openly discussing the existence of extraterrestrials, saying it would not “change reality of what I know.”
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Additionally, Bigelow discussed his aerospace company, which is currently working on building a space station, which it hopes to send to space by 2020.
It has already sent an inflatable human-rated habitat to space, known as BEAM. The structure is currently attached to the International Space Station.
North Las Vegas is a 20-minute drive from the loud fantasy of the Strip. In this quieter part of the Mojave Desert, Robert Bigelow’s own fantasy is coming to fruition. His Bigelow Aerospace owns 50 acres of dirt and scrub where he’s put up a few sun-beaten buildings largely resembling those of the neighboring beer distributor and flooring contractor. Except that Allied Flooring Services isn’t barricaded behind two rows of razor-topped fence. Nor does it have a small militia of roving guards whose shoulder patches depict a bulbous-headed alien.
The concertina and armed patrols suggest that Bigelow is up to something unusual, something expensively unusual and quite sensitive. Bigelow, 67, doesn’t let members of the public behind the wire, but is happy to talk about what he’s doing there.
He’s building hotels. Orbiting hotels.
High-tech, low-cost inflatable space stations 228 miles above sea level. If the future for humanity is in space, and Bigelow believes it is, we will need a place to stay. Bigelow made a fortune in his lifetime building affordable places to stay on Earth. In the last 15 years he has spent $210 million of his own money, and he says he will spend up to $500 million overall, in order to prove that space is a safe place for a passionate entrepreneur.
“We have a way of building stations that are far less expensive, far safer and can be built more quickly,” says Bigelow. “And the timing is right.”
He says he is in talks with more than a dozen nations and has “memorandums of understanding” from countries including Japan, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Australia and the United Kingdom. In February NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver visited Bigelow Aerospace’s plant in North Las Vegas, and the agency is currently evaluating the company’s expandable modules for use as expansions to the International Space Station.
It would be easy to write Robert Bigelow off as an eccentric. He gave $3.7 million to the University of Nevada Las Vegas to establish a “consciousness studies” program that taught classes about life after death. He gave an estimated $10 million to fund the now-defunct UFO-hunting National Institute for Discovery Science. In 1996 he bought a 480-acre Utah cattle ranch that some believe is the site of an inter-dimensional doorway used by alien shape-shifters and stationed watchers there.
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Bigelow’s success is evident
FORBES estimates his real estate empire is worth $700 million. Bigelow is entirely self-made and owns all his companies and properties outright, including the Budget Suites chain of residential hotels and more than 14,000 apartment and office units across the Southwest.
Inflatable space habitats (as opposed to the hard aluminum-hulled canisters now in use on the International Space Station) may sound wild, but the technology is real.
Bigelow’s prototypes have been orbiting Earth since 2006. He’s at work on a massive expansion of his plant in North Las Vegas that will double the amount of available floor space to 340,000 square feet; inside, he’s building a scale model of the Sundancer, the first habitat he plans to launch into space. When that’s completed, he’ll build a model of its big brother, the BA330: At 11,600 cubic feet, it has nearly as much volume as the entire ISS (see chart, p. 158).
By 2016 Bigelow expects to have a fully functioning station in orbit and to begin charging rent for it. Prices start at $28,750,000 per astronaut for a 30-day tour. That’s a lot of money, he admits, but says economies of scale will drive the price down quickly. He also points out it’s still less than the estimated $35 million Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté paid in 2009 for 12 days aboard the International Space Station
Wealthy entrepreneurs are scrambling for position. Elon Musk, cofounder of PayPal, is developing new rockets and reusable spacecraft at his company, SpaceX, and has already won a $1.6 billion government contract to carry cargo to the ISS after the shuttle fleet shuts down. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is developing a suborbital vehicle at his company Blue Origin. John Carmack, the videogame programmer and cofounder of id Software, has a rocketry startup called Armadillo Aerospace. And Richard Branson is planning to take tourists on jaunts into low-orbit space via Virgin Galactic.