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Robert Bigelow Plans a Real Estate Empire in Space

A Las Vegas billionaire plans to build a real estate empire in space
Bigelow with a rendering of Station Alpha
Bigelow with a rendering of Station AlphaPhotograph by Michael Friberg

Robert Bigelow was no more than 9 years old when he heard his first atom bomb explosion. He was upstairs in his bedroom, in a two-story brick house in Las Vegas. There was a low rumble in the early hours of the morning; a bright flash seared the horizon. “All of a sudden,” Bigelow remembers, “it lights up like daytime.”

After that, there were dozens more explosions, out on the Nevada National Security Site just 75 miles away in the Mojave Desert. During the day, he and his classmates at Highland Elementary School were often sent out into the playground to watch as mushroom clouds roiled 40,000 feet into the sky.