Inflatable Structures in Space

I find this fascinating: Bigelow Aerospace has planned a series of inflatable structure tests in space. Plan is to evolve testing and hardware to establish the Nautilus outpost in Earth orbit. The most advanced research in inflatable things certainly. Here is one the first prototype:

Making "space available" is at the heart of the global travel, tourist and lodging industry. That business axiom is no stranger to Robert Bigelow, owner of the Budget Suites of America Hotel Chain. But now the North Las Vegas, Nevada-based Bigelow is putting his money down on inflatable Earth orbiting modules. His intent on attracting not only high-flying sightseers, but those hungering to crank out made-in-space products and evaluate microgravity processes. Bigelows plan is to establish a habitable commercial space station for research, manufacturing, entertainment and other uses. (...) Bigelow Aerospace has been working on space inflatable modules, picking up where NASAs inflatable TransHab project ended, or was deflated partly due to political wrangling.

And the most interesting part of the story is:

Why inflatable space habitats? Gold said the technology offers several advantages. For one, an expandable structure can be tightly packed inside a variety of rocket nose farings, at econo-class prices. Additional, once in orbit, they offer increased pressurized volume for crew and experiments. Lastly, they provide a lot of instant room at low-cost. "We have evaluated a lot of NASA TransHab work and have moved on substantially from where they were," Gold said. "We are continuing to aggressively pursue the development of next generation expandable space structures. Building a real private-sector marketplace in space cannot be done by any one nation alone. Instead it will require a global mix of talents, resources, and technologies," he said.

Why do I blog this? I am fascinated by inflatable stuff :)

Technorati Tags: