NASA Commissions "Inflatable" Space Station Module

NASA Commissions "Inflatable" Space Station Module

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The module, built by manufacturer Bigelow Aerospace, has precedent in the earliest NASA designs.

NASA has announced today that they are awarding a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to manufacture an addition to the ISS. The expandable module, which will quite literally inflate, is a followup to Bigelow's own Genesis I and Genesis II spacecraft, inflatable stations launched in 2006 and 2007. "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. Bigelow Aerospace's mission is to "Provide affordable options for spaceflight to national space agencies and corporate clients." There's currently no date for when the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will reach space, though NASA intends to release details within the next few days at a joint press conference with Bigelow.

While the concept of an inflatable ISS module may sound ridiculous, inflatability actually dates back to the first days of space travel, when space in a rocket was at an absolute premium. Project Echo was an early 1960s NASA project that launched the Echo I and II spacecraft, giant metalized balloons nearly the size of ten story buildings. The Echo spacecraft were passive communications satellites used to bounce microwaves from one point on earth to another. Their purpose was totally not to get a better fix on Moscow for the launching of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Source: NASA

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Don't tell that dude with the inflation fetish!
Aw who am I kidding this has already been rule 34d

In space, nobody can hear you drop a pin.

This'll take us to infinity and (Cannot complete sentence due to copy right violation.)

And I hope this will be a small step for man, and a giant leap for man kind. Just think of the possibilities, soon we will be able to colonize the moon, or if technology permits Mars!

Uh, the Echos in the 60s had about 3 other satellites as company while today the whole orbit is littered with deadly high-speed debris. I wonder how impact-proof these things are.
Although substituting metal satellites with bouncy castles would probably be a great way to prevent collision damage.

On a related note, do you have to take your shoes off in these things?

DVS BSTrD:
In space, nobody can hear you drop a pin.

In space, the word "drop" is meaningless.

Well this is very all fine and well, but there are two problems.
1. pressure. will the fabric hold the pressure differences (or lack of it) in space?
2. flying bodies. Unlike earth atmosphere, in space there are many small particles flying around at high speeds. If they can puncture steel armor of sattelites they can certainly puncture inflatable space station. how are you going to combat that?

If they can puncture steel and all that, I really don't think they are going to concern themselves with it beyond the same basic technology that fixes car tires.

 

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