Two space companies just announced a partnership to launch an Inflatable Commercial Space Habitat in 2020.
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), will be inflated to almost twice its original size, to give astronauts a 3.6-metre room for tests.
Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, said in a press release:
“Our hope is that NASA would be the primary customer for that structure and we’d be given permission to commercialise Essentially. We’d be timesharing.
We are exploring options for the location of the initial B330 including discussions with NASA on the possibility of attaching it to the International Space Station (ISS). The working name for this module is XBASE or Expandable Bigelow Advanced Station Enhancement.”
The B330 with an interior volume of 330 cubic meters and measures 57 feet (17.3 m) in length.
If NASA agrees to attach the B330 to the ISS, the stations habitable volume would grow by a whopping 30% in one giant step.
According to ULA:
“The alliance represents the first-ever commercial partnership between a launch provider and a habitat provider.”
Images credit Bigelow