NASA sets sights on future of expandable habitats

World Today

NASA has been setting its sights on inflatable rooms as a future tool in space exploration.

CCTV America’s John Zarrella reports from the Kennedy Space Center.

NASA sets sights on future of expandable habitats

NASA has been setting its sights on inflatable rooms as a future tool in space exploration. CCTV America's John Zarrella reports from the Kennedy Space Center.

A Mars base will most likely have living quarters and research facilities. But chances are it will be built quite differently than you might think.

The U.S. space agency NASA is keeping its fingers crossed that upcoming tests will prove expandable habitats, commonly called inflatables, are the way of the future.

When a Space X rocket lifts off on its next flight to the International Space Station, part of the cargo it will be carrying the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, also known as BEAM. Folded up nice and neat for flight, once at the ISS, it will be opened up and expanded to the size of a small bedroom.

An astronaut working the Space Station’s robotic arm will lift BEAM from the cargo container, attach it to a station berthing area, and within a couple months, it will be filled with air to its full four meter long size and then pressurized.

The expandable habitat, built by Bigelow Aerospace under contract with NASA, could be a game changer for deep space missions.

The Space Agency is looking for ways to reduce the cost and number of cargo flights needed for a Mars mission. Smaller and lighter to haul, expandable habitats might be the ticket. This one will remain at the ISS for two years.

Sensors inside will measure temperature, radiation and durability against particle impacts. Astronauts will enter it only periodically to check and replace sensors. Bigelow has already flown and successfully tested two small habitats called Genesis 1 and 2.

Genesis 1 will be the first attached to the station and the first humans can safely enter and exit. If this test goes well, Bigelow hopes to fly an even larger expandable to the ISS – roomy enough to house six station crew mates.

Robert Bigelow, founder of Bigelow Aerospace, made his money in the hotel business. The billionaire is hoping his habitats will not only go to Mars but will eventually be the first hotels in low Earth orbit.

Just imagine the view.


Astro-journalist Tariq Malik on Space-X launch

CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviewed Tariq Malik, astro-journalist and the managing editor at Space.com, about the Space-X launch and the future of space tourism.

Astro-journalist Tariq Malik on Space-X launch

CCTV America's Mike Walter interviewed Tariq Malik, astro-journalist and the managing editor at Space.com, about the Space-X launch and the future of space tourism.