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Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015

The $17.8 million BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) inflatable space station module is on schedule to be delivered to the International Space Station by a SpaceX cargo craft next year. It will stay attached to the Tranquility node's port aft.


(Artist: BEAM attached to ISS)

it will be used to test and demonstrate the feasibility of private company Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable space habitat technology -- as well as what the company can do with low-Earth orbit (LEO).

"LEO will become a commercial domain," Bigelow's Mike Gold told Space.com, adding that it wasn't long ago that all communications satellites were owned by governments -- compared to now, when the majority are privately owned.

Bigelow currently has two stand-alone autonomous spacecraft in orbit, the Genesis I and the Genesis II, both collecting data about LEO conditions and about how well the technology performs in practise.

As science-fiction fans know, In his 1967 novella Flatlander, science fiction author Larry Niven makes use of Inflatable Expansion Bubble, an inflatable chamber that provides temporary space for cramped space travelers:

The bubble had inflatable seats and an inflatable table and was there for exercise and killing time but it also provided a fine view; the surface was perfectly transparent.

Via CNET and Bigelow Aerospace.

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