quote: The concept of utilizing expandable, or, as referred to in the past, ‘inflatable’ spacecraft and space systems is not a new idea. The history of inflatable space systems goes back to the very beginning of America’s space program. As a matter of fact, the inflatable Echo 1 and Echo 2, the world’s first passive communications satellites, were one of the inaugural projects taken on in 1958 by a new federal agency called NASA. Boasting a diameter close to the height of a 10-story building, the Echo satellites have been described as “perhaps the most beautiful object[s] ever to be put into space.” The challenge that these first NASA engineers faced was how to place such a large structure into the relatively tiny fairing of a Thor-Delta rocket. The ultimate solution was to use an inflatable system, which led to the development of the Echo 1, 1A, and 2, and a brand new substance that the satellite was made out of called ‘Mylar’.