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You know the movie version of Contact, where Jodie Foster deals with reclusive billionaire industrialist S.R. Hadden, played by John Hurt, who is interested in finding evidence for life from other planets? I think that’s about the closest comparison you could give for Robert Bigelow, the wealthy Las Vegas entrepreneur who has made headlines in recent years for both his ‘commercial space stations’ through Bigelow Aerospace, and his support for research into UFOs and the paranormal via the National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS). Though Bigelow looks to have a much healthier head of hair…

Bigelow’s interest in the scientific investigation of ‘Fortean’ topics goes back some time – besides NIDS, he was an early supporter of Dean Radin’s psi research, he funded a chair of consciousness studies at the University of Nevada, and also has been involved in funding UFO research. But many were beginning to think he was shying away from the field, with NIDS being put on ‘inactive’ status in 2004, and Bigelow Aerospace taking up much more of his time (and money).

However, it seems that Robert Bigelow is still very interested in at least UFO research, as he has just concluded a deal with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) to act as field investigators of certain UFO events. The investigation has the ‘codename’ of SIP (‘Star Impact Project’):

MUFON since its inception has been a volunteer effort on the part of civilians who devote whatever spare time and energies they can afford in order to fulfill MUFON’s stated mission of scientifically investigating the UFO phenomenon for the benefit of humanity.

Now for the first time MUFON’s members are going to be paid to do their work. MUFON’s agreement with Bigelow is to train and qualify a special rapid response team of Field Investigators who can be deployed within 24 hours to the scene of a major UFO event, the kind designated as Category 2 or 3 in the classification system devised by legendary UFO researcher Jacques Vallee. These are the rarer cases where either physical traces are left or physiological effects are caused in the witness.

Bigelow has hired 50 top-flight scientists to assist MUFON in this endeavor who will function as consultants and do expensive lab analysis of alien materials gathered at the location of a UFO event. Bigelow, who never does anything on a small scale, a few years ago founded BAASS (Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies) with the incredibly ambitious goal of putting a commercial hotel up in orbit around the earth. He thinks that even one category 2 or 3 case if properly investigated can yield significant scientific paydirt.

Whatever high-tech equipment needed by the investigators on the scene will be drop-shipped to them overnight by BAASS. These high-profile cases will be investigated using the strictest methods of scientific protocol.

It’s worth noting that part of the contract stipulates that lab analysis results will not be held privately by Bigelow – one of the previous criticisms of the research done by NIDS was that complete details of the investigations were not released publicly. However, also worth noting is that this is a ‘pilot’, which will be reviewed on June 30th. That short a timeframe has got to put some serious pressure on MUFON investigators to come up with something worthwhile…although when it comes to UFOs, it’s pretty much out of their hands.

Previously on TDG: