Is this the first step towards a space hotel? Is this a ‘bouncy castle’ bedroom in space? Could an inflatable module like this be included in future deep-space exploration? Bigelow Aerospace has made an inflatable space habitat — the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM — that will be tested for two years on the International Space Station. From ArsTechnica:
As early as April 8 a deflated module will launch inside the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The space agency has agreed to attach a test module to the International Space Station, inflate it, and over the course of two years determine if such a contraption can work in space. Crew won’t live in it—inflatables remain too experimental to risk life and limb. But if the module holds up, NASA will invest more money into the technology…
It took NASA dozens of costly space shuttle launches to assemble the International Space Station piece by piece. Lacking a rigid structure, inflatables can be folded inside the limited diameter of a rocket fairing. Once in space they can be expanded to create a massive amount of volume.
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