Bigelow Aerospace has signed an agreement with NASA to launch an add on to the International Space Station. This additional segment for the space station, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), will be about 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter allowing for additional space for astronauts to utilize. This additional segment will cost only $17.8 million, which is extremely low in comparison to the hundreds of millions of dollars that other I.S.S. segments cost. While this particular segment is being launched primarily for testing and proving this technology to be rated for human usage, Bigelow Aerospace has launched several other inflatable habitats in the past. While these segments were not attached to the I.S.S., they all did successfully prove the technology of usable inflatable space structures.
SpaceX Falcon resupply utilizing the unpressurized lower portion of the resupply craft and attached to the space station using space station’s robotic arm. The addition would mark the first privately made space station segment being delivered by a private launch service. Is it possible that the future of space exploration will not be carried out by the budgets of large nations? Bigelow Aerospace hopes that this will be the case and it is continuing to develop inflatable segments for what it hopes will be the first privately owned space station. While the segment being delivered to the space station is large enough to fit several people inside, Bigelow has been developing much larger inflatable spaces. Each of these segments would be considered a space station on their own, yet they are designed so that several of them could be attached together to form a space station that is several times larger than the combined size of the I.S.S.