(POSTED on the People's Daily online - from Xinhua. Please note Bigelow was working with China Great Wall until the GW execs were kicked out of the US because they were actually PLA officers and GW was banned from doing business here because of DF-11 missile exports to Pakistan.)
Launched aboard a converted intercontinental ballistic missile July 12, 2006, a Genesis 1 inflatable module passed an orbital milestone last month after completing its 10,000th orbit of the Earth.
Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace launched Genesis 1 to test its ability to self-inflate and operate in Earth orbit.
More than 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 said.
"Since it was lifted into orbit, Genesis 1 has continued to perform its main mission to test and verify systems to be used in future manned space habitats," Bigelow said in a statement. "Genesis 1 has traveled the equivalent of more than 270 million miles, which would take it to the moon and back 1,154 times."
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.
With a length of about 14 feet (4.4 meters) and a diameter of 8 feet (2.5 meters), the Genesis modules are one-third scale versions of Bigelow Aerospace's planned BA-330 modules for manned missions.
Bigelow Aerospace hopes to begin assembling its first crewed station using its Sundancer module in about 2011.