The aerospace engineers over at SpaceX and NASA have been innovating again. Along with Bigelow Aerospace, on April 8th, 2016, a resupply mission along with a new module named The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be sent to the International Space Station. Once docked on to the space station it will create another room for the astronauts to use.
According to TechCrunch, the Dragon capsule - as it is being called - will be connected to Node 3 on the ISS in mid-April, and inflation will follow in the beginning of June. It will grow to ten times its volume at launch.
ArsTechnica says the module costs around $17.8 million, but won't have astronauts living in it just yet because NASA aren't convinced that inflatable living quarters are fully safe to live in yet.
Mike Gold is the director of Bigelow's DC operations and business growth. He said, "The major concern I hear is if it's a balloon, will it pop? Quite the opposite." He says the 'balloon' is a kevlar-like material and will be as protective as the aluminium hull that already resides on the ISS.
The payload will be sent up by the Falcon 9 rocket belonging to SpaceX and will also have 250 other scientific experiments that the astronauts will conduct whilst they are in space.
Jason Crusan, the director of Advanced Exploration Systems at NASA headquarters said, "We're fortunate to have the space station to demonstrate potential habitation capabilities like BEAM. The station provides us with a long-duration microgravity platform with constant crew access to evaluate systems and technologies we are considering for future missions farther into deep space."
The theory that is being drummed up as a result of Crusan saying they could use it on future missions is that one day we would be able to live in one of these inflatable habitats on Mars. Just imagine that.
Courtesy of NASA and TechCrunch