NASA Gives Bigelow Aerospace $17.8M for Expandable ISS Module
January 14, 2013 12:12 PM
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Bigelow Aerospace's expandable modules
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
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.
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1/14/2013 5:47:40 PM
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.
1/14/2013 6:19:17 PM
oh ok, cool. It would be cool if they used this to set up an outpost on the moon!
1/14/2013 8:46:38 PM
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
collapsed) that can be accessed without much trouble, placing modules like these within them could be even better.
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