International Space Station set to receive blow-up extension


NASA has awarded $17.8 million to an aerospace contractor to add a new habitat module to the International Space Station, according to a press release issued by the agency on Monday. Bigelow Aerospace will develop the addition to help humans “thrive in space safely and affordably.” The details aren’t yet clear, but Bigelow has designed modules that would triple the size of the ISS.

Bigelow Aerospace, a space technology startup that specializes in inflatable space habitats, created a proposal for a cylindrical “Bigelow Expandable Activity Module” back in January 2011. The original concept design, the BA-2100, would be 2100 cubic meters in size, much larger than the ISS’s current 837 cubic meters. The module would measure 58.4 feet long, and would be 41.3 feet in diameter, allowing for a few distinct activity spaces within.

The BA-2100 was originally conceived as part of the Bigelow Commercial Space Station that was set to go into orbit in 2015. But deployment to the existing space station would presumably require some level of redesign. NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are set to hold a joint press conference at Bigelow’s headquarters in North Las Vegas, NV on January 16 to further discuss details of the joint venture. Here’s hoping that the ISS’s astronauts will finally get that sewing room they’ve always wanted.

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