Genesis II
Artist rendering of Genesis II
Mission typeExperimental uncrewed space station
OperatorBigelow Aerospace
COSPAR ID2007-028A
SATCAT no.31789
Mission duration6 months (planned)
2.5 years (achieved)
14 years, 9 months and 21 days [1]
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftSpace station
Spacecraft typeGenesis
ManufacturerBigelow Aerospace
Launch mass1,360 kg (3,000 lb) [2]
Dimensions4.40 m (14.4 ft) of long
2.54 m (8 ft 4 in) of diameter
11.50 m3 (406 cu ft) of volume
51.70 kPa (7.498 psi) of pressure [3]
Start of mission
Launch date28 June 2007, 15:02:20 UTC
Launch siteDombarovsky, Russia
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric orbit[4]
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Perigee altitude479.5 km (297.9 mi)
Apogee altitude550.1 km (341.8 mi)
Period94.92 minutes
Genesis program

Genesis II is the second experimental space habitat designed and built by the private American firm Bigelow Aerospace, launched in 2007. As the second module sent into orbit by the company, this spacecraft builds on the data and experience gleaned from its previously orbited sister-ship Genesis I. Like its sister-ship and other modules being designed by Bigelow Aerospace, this spacecraft is based on the NASA TransHab design, which provides increased interior volume and reduced launch diameter along with potentially reduced mass compared to traditional rigid structures.

Genesis II was "retired" when its avionics systems stopped working after two and a half years, thus becoming a derelict spacecraft. As of January 2021, the spacecraft remains in orbit.[4]

Spacecraft history

Similar to the process endured by Bigelow for Genesis I, transporting Genesis II to Russia for launch was the end result of nearly a year of regulatory processes due to restrictions imposed by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) and other procedures, both in the United States and abroad. After leaving North Las Vegas, Nevada in the United States, the spacecraft made a stopover in Luxembourg before being flown on an Antonov An-124 to Orsk, Russia, and transported over ground to the Dombarovskiy base. Genesis II made its final move into the Assembly, Integration and Test Building on 29 March 2007.[5] Originally slated for a 6 August 2006 launch, ISC Kosmotras delayed the launch to 30 January 2007, due to the failure of a Dnepr rocket in July 2006. The launch was delayed an additional four times (1 April 2007, 19 April 2007, 26 April 2007, and 23 May 2007) due to technical and scheduling reasons before its eventual launch on 28 June 2007 at 15:02:20 UTC.[6]

As with Genesis I, it was launched aboard an ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket from Dombarovsky Air Base near Yasny, Orenburg Oblast, Russia. It successfully reached orbit after separation from the rocket at 15:16 UTC. Due to the mechanics of its orbit, first contact with the craft was established once it passed over SpaceQuest, Ltd.'s Fairfax, Virginia receiving station at 22:20 UTC, confirming that it was functioning nominally with power and air pressure at expected levels.[7][8][9] Externally, Genesis II is identical in size to Genesis I; as such, it is a one-third scale of the full-size BA 330 model, with on-orbit measurements of 4.40 m (14.4 ft) in length and 2.54 m (8 ft 4 in) in diameter, with an interior habitable volume of 11.50 m3 (406 cu ft). As part of its inflatable design, Genesis II launched with a diameter of 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in), expanding to its full size after entering orbit.[7][9][10] Within two days of launch, attitude control systems had damped all rotation and oriented antennae toward Earth.[3]

On 12 December 2007, Bigelow Aerospace provided an update indicating that Genesis II was in good health. All cameras had been tested and more than 4,000 photographs had been taken. The craft was in a nearly circular orbit with an eccentricity of 0.028, and had only lost 5 km (3.1 mi) from launch to that time. Attitude control systems and all eight solar arrays were operational, and no damage to the outer surface of the craft was observed. Internal pressure was noted as holding between 69.60 and 72.40 kPa (10.095 and 10.501 psi), with the variation caused by Genesis II moving in and out of sunlight during its orbit.[3]

On 23 April 2009, Bigelow Aerospace announced that Genesis II had surpassed the 10,000 orbit mark, having been in space for 665 days and travelling over 430×10^6 km (270×10^6 mi).[11]

In February 2011, Bigelow reported that the vehicle had "performed flawlessly in terms of pressure maintenance and thermal control-environmental containment".[12] Although the design life of the spacecraft avionics was only six months, the avionics systems worked flawlessly for over two and a half years before failure. The data received after the first six months was a re-verification of the validation test suite that was accomplished during the design life period.[13]

On 17 September 2019, an alert was generated by the U.S. Air Force stating that there was a 5.6% chance that Genesis II would collide with another derelict satellite, the Soviet satellite Kosmos 1300.[14]

As of January 2021, the spacecraft remains in orbit.[4]


Genesis II featured a number of improvements over the first pathfinder that was launched. In addition to the standard guidance control systems used on Genesis I, it had reaction wheel assemblies and a precision measurement system, which were used to affect the spacecraft's rotation rate and angular momentum without expending fuel. It carried 22 cameras (nine more than the 13 on Genesis I) for photographing and filming cargo and ship conditions both inside and out. Some of these were on articulated platforms, and one wireless camera that is capable of additional exterior imaging. Instead of the single-tank inflation system used on the first prototype craft, Genesis II employed multiple tanks for added reliability and to allow for more finely tuned gas control.

Additional layers[clarification needed] were added to the outer shield for increased protection and thermal management. Finally, the on-board sensor suite was enhanced with additional sensors for pressure, temperature, attitude control, and radiation detection, which will help determine the impact of the orbital environment on the integrity of shipboard systems.[15] Genesis II did not carry any propulsion.


On both the interior and exterior, Genesis II carried several non-critical systems for scientific, commercial and entertainment purposes.

For the science aspect, Genesis II carried an upgraded version of the original life-sciences module, colloquially termed "Life in a Box". This module includes habitats for three organisms: the Madagascar hissing cockroach, previously carried aboard Genesis I; the South African flat rock scorpion, Hadogenes troglodytes; and a colony of seed-harvester ants, Pogonomyrmex californicus, along with the queen ant for long-term colonization possibilities. This biobox system included automated food and water delivery systems, and fans keep fresh air available by circulating internal air with that inside the rest of the spacecraft. Sensors and cameras were intended to monitor the health and activities of the biobox inhabitants, and images of the interior were intended for display on Bigelow's website.[16][needs update]

There were two commercial payloads included on Genesis II. The first was the "Fly Your Stuff" program, which allowed individuals and customers to send photographs and other small items into orbit for a fee. Several dozen of these objects were launched, and were later photographed and filmed by cameras in the spacecraft and posted on the Bigelow website for the customers to view.[17] By December 2007, all objects launched as part of this program had been photographed and distributed to customers.[3]

A secondary payload is the external image projection system that tested the capability for flashing images and messages on the spacecraft's hull. Two projectors and associated cameras were positioned on the tips of solar arrays, and the company had eventual plans for allowing the public to send images and video to be displayed. As of August 2007, there were no firm plans on how this would be handled due to current limits of uplink bandwidth, and was considered merely an experimental "fun" project.[18][19]

For entertainment, Genesis II carries a "Space Bingo" game intended to foster public interest in the program.[20]

See also


  1. ^ @BigelowAerospace (9 January 2016). "We hoped to receive 6 months..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  2. ^ Boyle, Alan (17 April 2007). "Private space station test delayed till May". NBC News. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d "Genesis II: Performance". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 15 December 2007.
  4. ^ a b c Peat, Chris (22 October 2019). "Genesis 2 - Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 22 October 2019.
  5. ^ Gold, Mike (March 2007). "Dispatches from Yasny". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 9 May 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  6. ^ "Russia launches prototype of a private space station". Russian Space Web. 28 June 2007. Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  7. ^ a b "Genesis II Calls Home, Says It's Doing Fine". Bigelow Aerospace. 28 June 2007. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008.
  8. ^ "Genesis II Successfully Launched". Bigelow Aerospace. 28 June 2007. Archived from the original on 6 February 2008.
  9. ^ a b "Genesis II Calls Home and Sends Back Pictures". The Planetary Society. 2 July 2007. Archived from the original on 28 June 2011. Retrieved 11 February 2011.
  10. ^ Malik, Tariq; David, Leonard (28 June 2007). "Bigelow's Second Orbital Module Launches Into Space". Retrieved 30 June 2007.
  11. ^ "Genesis II Completes 10,000 Orbits!". Bigelow Aerospace. 23 April 2009. Archived from the original on 10 September 2009.
  12. ^ Knapp, George (4 February 2011). "I-Team: Bigelow Aerospace Begins Big Expansion". Retrieved 5 February 2011.
  13. ^ Bigelow, Robert (interviewee) (1 December 2011). Moonandback Interview With Robert Bigelow, Part 4 – Highlights and Plans (Podcast). Event occurs at 02:53. Retrieved 19 December 2011.
  14. ^ @BigelowAerospace (17 September 2019). "Today, we were notified by the U.S. Air Force ..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  15. ^ Haakonstad, Eric (5 March 2007). "Genesis II Different From Genesis I". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved 4 August 2007.
  16. ^ Chen, Maijinn. "Life in a Box". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  17. ^ "Fly Your Stuff". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 20 December 2007.
  18. ^ Boyle, Alan (3 August 2007). "Orbital Billboard Lights Up". MSNBC Cosmic Log. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2007.
  19. ^ David, Leonard (26 March 2007). "Bigelow Aerospace Sets a Business Trajectory". Retrieved 6 August 2007.
  20. ^ Chen, Maijinn. "Bigelow Bingo". Bigelow Aerospace. Archived from the original on 19 January 2008.