Space station to get $22m balloon-like room
LAS VEGAS (AP) - National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that serve as astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap.
A US$17.8 million (S$22 million) test project will send an inflatable room that can be compressed for delivery into a 2m tube to the International Space Station, officials said on Wednesday during a news conference at North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace.
If the module proves durable during two years at the space station, it could help lead to habitats on the moon and missions to Mars, Nasa engineer Glen Miller said.
The agency chose Bigelow Aerospace for the contract because it was the only company working on the inflatable technology, said Nasa Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.