This artist’s illustration depicts a Boeing CST-100 spacecraft approaching a private inflatable space station complex designed by Bigelow Aerospace. CREDIT: Boeing

Inflatable Private Space Stations: Bigelow’s Big Dream

by Mike Wall, SPACE Senior Writer
Date: 15 January 2013 Time: 07:00 AM ET

NASA’s decision to buy an inflatable new room for the International Space Station may push the module’s builder —commercial spaceflight company Bigelow Aerospace — one step closer to establishing its own private stations in orbit.

Last week, NASA announced that it will pay $17.8 million for the Nevada-based company’s Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which will be affixed to the huge orbiting lab as a technology demonstration.

NASA and Bigelow will discuss the deal during a media event Wednesday (Jan. 16) in North Las Vegas, where the company is headquartered. BEAM could help prove out the viability of inflatable crew habitats, potentially jump-starting Bigelow’s ambitious plans in low-Earth orbit and, perhaps, on the surface of the moon.

Read more: Inflatable Private Space Stations: Bigelow's Big Dream | Space.

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