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Bigelow Aerospace's expandable modules  (Source:
Further details about the partnership and scheduling will be released on Wednesday, according to NASA

After much success with SpaceX, NASA has decided to bring another commercial space company onboard -- but this time, it's for an International Space Station (ISS) remodel.

NASA has awarded commercial space company Bigelow Aerospace a total of $17.8 million to create an expandable module for the ISS.

Bigelow Aerospace, which was founded in 1998, has been building expandable spacecraft with the intention of using them on missions. In 2006 and 2007, the company successfully launched its prototypes into orbit.

Now, NASA wants Bigelow Aerospace to use its expandable modules to develop a bigger space station.

Further details about the partnership and scheduling will be released on Wednesday, according to NASA.

“This partnership agreement for the use of expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important progress in U.S. commercial space innovation,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.

NASA took a chance with private, California-based space company SpaceX when the government agency retired its space shuttle fleet throughout 2011. SpaceX stepped up in order to provide American astronauts a way to the ISS without hitching an expensive ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket. In 2012, SpaceX's Dragon made an initial successful cargo trip to the ISS in May and its first official cargo trip later in October.

It is rumored that SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace will make a trip together in 2015.

The ISS, which launched in 1998, will deorbit and be sent to the ocean around 2020 according to deputy head of Roskosmos space agency Vitaly Davydov.

Source: Forbes

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RE: wow
By Manch on 1/14/2013 5:32:23 PM , Rating: 1
I remember the space hotel concept from a few years ago and when they sent up there first inflatable pods. I'm just curious about how sturdy they are, or how they have addressed the threat of space debris

RE: wow
By JediJeb on 1/14/2013 5:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
From what I remember they are polyethylene and Kevlar shells, so they should be at least as resistant to space debris as the relatively thin shell of the current ISS.

RE: wow
By Manch on 1/14/2013 6:19:17 PM , Rating: 1
oh ok, cool. It would be cool if they used this to set up an outpost on the moon!

RE: wow
By delphinus100 on 1/14/2013 8:46:38 PM , Rating: 3
oh, it's part of the long-range plan...

...though I'd think they'd also make an attempt to cover the modules with some degree of Lunar regolith, for additional protection from meteorites, solar and galactic cosmic radiation and day/night temperature extremes.

If there are caves and stable, uncollapsed lava tubes (we know the Moon has lava tubes that have collapsed) that can be accessed without much trouble, placing modules like these within them could be even better.

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