Robert Bigelow

Robert Thomas Bigelow[1][2] (born May 12, 1945) is an American businessman. He owns the hotel chain Budget Suites of America and is the founder of Bigelow Aerospace.[3][4] Bigelow has used his wealth to provide financial support for investigations of parapsychological topics, including UFOs and the continuation of consciousness after death.[5]

Robert Bigelow
Robert Bigelow.jpg
Robert Thomas Bigelow

(1945-05-12) May 12, 1945 (age 75)
Alma materASU

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.[6]

He entered the University of Nevada, Reno in 1962 to study banking and real estate, and he graduated from Arizona State University in 1967.[6]


Real estateEdit

From the late 1960s[6] through the 1990s Bigelow developed commercial real estate hotels, motels and apartments.[7]

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."[6]


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.[8] The organization researched cattle mutilation and black triangle reports, ultimately attributing the latter to the military.[9] The institute was disbanded in 2004.

In 1996, Bigelow purchased Skinwalker Ranch, a 480-acre cattle ranch located in Utah that some believe is the site of an interdimensional doorway used by alien shape-shifters.[10]

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.[11][12] According to the New York Times, Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and have visited Earth.[13]

In June 2020, Bigelow founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support investigations into life after death.[5] In January 2021, he put up an award of $1 million for anyone who could demonstrate the existence of a life after death.[14]

Aerospace developmentEdit

In 1999, Bigelow founded Bigelow Aerospace.[15] 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. [16][17] 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.[18]

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.[7] In October 2017, Bigelow announced that he planned to put an inflatable "space hotel" into orbit by 2022.[19] 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.[20]

In April 2016, Bigelow's BEAM module was launched to the International Space Station[7] on the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission.[21]

In March 2020, Bigelow Aerospace let go of all 88 members of staff and halted operations after over 20 years of business, in a move that was partly caused by the coronavirus pandemic.[22]

In March 2021, he sued the NASA for 1.05 million dollars of supposedly unpaid bills.[23]


  1. ^ "Las Vegas High School Alumni Association: Robert Thomas Bigelow - Class of 1962" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Nevada Marriage Index".
  3. ^ Pat (February 11, 2007). "Money Backing the Private Space Industry... Part 3--Robert Bigelow". The Space Monitor (blog).
  4. ^ Ewalt, David M. (June 8, 2011). "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved October 22, 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ a b Blumenthal, Ralph (January 24, 2021). "Buying a peek at the hereafter". New York Times. Retrieved January 25, 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d Higginbotham, Adam (May 2, 2013). "Robert Bigelow plans a real estate empire in space". BusinessWeek. Retrieved May 10, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c Robison, Jennifer (March 10, 2013). "Nevadan at work: To the moon and beyond for Las Vegas developer". Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  8. ^ Dorio, Mark (2005). Ufology: A Very Short Introduction. Victoria, British Columbia: Trafford. ISBN 1-4120-6473-2.
  9. ^ David, Leonard (September 2, 2004). "Silent Running: 'Black Triangle' Sightings on the Rise". Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  10. ^ Ewalt, David M. "Cosmic Landlord". Forbes. Retrieved August 17, 2020.
  11. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (December 16, 2017). "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program". New York Times.
  12. ^ Bender, Bryan (December 16, 2017). "The Pentagon's Secret Search for UFOs". Politico.
  13. ^ Cooper, Helene; Blumenthal, Ralph; Kean, Leslie (December 16, 2017). "Glowing Auras and 'Black Money': The Pentagon's Mysterious U.F.O. Program". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 25, 2017.
  14. ^ George Knapp, Is there life after death? Businessman offers nearly $1 million to find out,, 23 January 2021
  15. ^ De Keyser, Sigurd (June 4, 2006). "Bigelow Aerospace; Russian Dnepr rocket to launch a 1/3-scale Genesis model". Space Fellowship News. International Space Fellowship. Retrieved March 4, 2010.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Belfiore, Michael (2007). Rocketeers: how a visionary band of business leaders, engineers and pilots is boldly privatizing space. New York: Smithsonian Books. p. [1]. ISBN 978-0-06-114903-0.
  18. ^ Malik, Tariq; David, Leonard (June 28, 2007). "Bigelow's second orbital module launches into space". Purch. Retrieved December 26, 2009.
  19. ^ Haslet, Emma (October 19, 2017). "Beware Vermicious Knids: A US billionaire wants to launch an inflatable space hotel into lunar orbit by 2022". City AM.
  20. ^ Mark Whittington, Will a space hotel actually be open for business in 2027?,, 14 March 2021
  21. ^ Northon, Karen, ed. (April 8, 2016). "NASA Cargo Headed to Space Station Includes Habitat Prototype, Medical Research". NASA. Retrieved April 11, 2016.
  22. ^ "Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce". SpaceNews. March 23, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  23. ^ Duncan Phenix, Robert Bigelow comments on $1.05 million lawsuit against NASA,, 30 March 2021

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit