The firm that send the first inflatable space module to the International Space Station has revealed an even bigger project - a space station orbiting the moon. Bigelow Aerospace has revealed it is working with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to send an inflatable habitat to low lunar orbit by 2022. The idea is to provide a'lunar depot' as well as a place for NASA to train astronauts and launch longer-term exploration programs. Bigelow Aerospace is working with United Launch Alliance to send an inflatable habitat to low lunar orbit by 2022 to provide a'lunar depot' as well as a place for NASA to train astronauts. 'We are excited to work with ULA on this lunar depot project,' said Robert Bigelow, president of Bigelow Aerospace.
The class of wealthy entrepreneurs who have turned their childhood space passions into emerging companies has been dominated by some of the biggest names in technology and business--Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Paul Allen. But now another wealthy, if lesser known, entrepreneur is about to join them on the public stage, unveiling his plans for how humans will finally spread out into the stars to stay. On Friday, Robert Bigelow, who made millions with his extended stay hotels, is planning to send his expandable space habitat to the International Station. Once in orbit, the module will be attached to the station, inflated and then tested over a two-year period to see how it fares against the harsh environment of space. From time to time, the astronauts aboard the station will venture into the bedroom-sized pod--the first ever expandable habitat to be attached to the station, to take measurements.
The deal was heralded as a significant step toward commercializing space and creating a viable self-sustaining economy where businesses could thrive without being propped up by government. The companies said that the deal marked the "first-ever commercial partnership between a launch provider and a habitat provider." New industries would proliferate, predicted Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, and "help pay for the future pursuit of eventual lunar enterprises." The module, made of a Kevlar-like substance, is scheduled to soon be attached to the station, and tested to see how it fares against the heat, radiation and debris floating around in space. Astronauts will enter that habitat, called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, a few times a year to inspect how it is doing and take measurements.
From beach balls, pool toys, and jump houses, inflatable technology takes a big step forward for its next frontier: space stations. A new kind of tech will be aboard SpaceX's eighth supply mission to the International Space Station (ISS). A compressed living module will be delivered and attached to the station where, in the void of space, it will expand into a new habitat for astronauts. Designed by Bigelow Aerospace, the inflatable space habitat is one area NASA is exploring for potential deep space habitats and other advanced space missions. "The'Bigelow Expandable Activity Module,' or the BEAM, is an expandable habitat that will be used to investigate technology and understand the potential benefits of such habitats for human missions to deep space," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote in a blog post.