He's also designing a lunar base to house astronauts, scientists, miners or whoever may end up on the moon. However, the base would be made in low Earth orbit—say, near the ISS, and then pushed to lunar orbit and the Moon's surface using tugs the company is also designing. Bigelow would not construct the base on the Moon itself.
"If you've ever been on a construction site at night, you see all the service trucks there from all the stuff that went wrong the day before," he said. Waiting until you get to the moon to construct housing is "asking for a whole lot of trouble."
Bigelow recently filed with the Federal Aviation Administration to amend a 1967 space treaty so that anyone who makes it to the Moon can have private property considerations.
"There is already a policy that declares that if you have a habitable system in space, that there is a standoff zone of 200 miles," he said. "We're asking for the same consideration on the Moon."
Private companies might take the big risks needed to further humanity's return to the Moon only if the profit motive of mining minerals there could be guaranteed. With the amendment he is proposing, "Landings can occur, but not right in your own backyard," Bigelow said.
(Read more: Space tourism incubating in California's Mojave Desert)
Bigelow Aerospace is hoping to hire six astronauts this year and provide them with housing in Las Vegas. The company is also in discussions with foreign governments about helping them move forward with their own plans for space.
The venture is a so costly a gamble that only those with the deepest pockets can afford to wager. When asked how much money he's spent on this, Bigelow said, "I stopped counting at $250 million."
Timing is everything, he said, and housing and transportation need to be in sync. "It doesn't do us any good to be there alone."
Still waiting for the opportunities and affordability of space to reach critical mass, Bigelow said, "The International Space Station cannot produce enough demand by itself to support even two transportation companies. There is a serious need to have one or more destinations."
—By CNBC's Jane Wells. Follow her on Twitter: @janewells