Robert Thomas Bigelow (born May 12, 1945) is an American businessman. He owns the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace. Bigelow has used his wealth to provide financial support for investigations of parapsychological topics, including UFOs and the continuation of consciousness after death.
Robert Thomas Bigelow
May 12, 1945
Early life and educationEdit
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.
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.
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."
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. The organization researched cattle mutilation and black triangle reports, ultimately attributing the latter to the military. The institute was disbanded in 2004.
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. According to the New York Times, Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and have visited Earth.
In June 2020, Bigelow founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support investigations into life after death. In January 2021, he put up an award of $1 million for anyone who could demonstrate the existence of a life after death.
In 1999, Bigelow founded Bigelow Aerospace. 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.  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.
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. In October 2017, Bigelow announced that he planned to put an inflatable "space hotel" into orbit by 2022. 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.
In March 2021, he sued the NASA for 1.05 million dollars of supposedly unpaid bills.
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- George Knapp, Is there life after death? Businessman offers nearly $1 million to find out, Wreg.com, 23 January 2021
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- Mark Whittington, Will a space hotel actually be open for business in 2027?, Thehill.com, 14 March 2021
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- Duncan Phenix, Robert Bigelow comments on $1.05 million lawsuit against NASA, 8newsroom.com, 30 March 2021
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