Although it sounds incredible, an inflatable space habitat has already been sent into space, and lies attached to the International Space Station. This habitat is made up of one room, and is currently undergoing testing. The creator is Bigelow, a Las Vegas company which now wants to make the module travel further than the ISS, maybe even reach the moon.
An inflatable space habitat for a secondary lunar space station
This inflatable space habitat is called B330, and is the product of a cooperation between Bigelow and the United Launch Alliance. Bigelow is currently testing the module’s resistance to space conditions and, based on the observations made so far, it wants to send it into the moon’s orbit by 2022.
The purpose of this inflatable space habitat would be to offer an additional space station where NASA could put its astronauts. It might work as a perfect enclosure where they should undergo training or exploration missions, as it’s a swift spacecraft which can easily approach the moon.
The habitat can be mostly anything
The inflatable space habitat is made of a highly resistant material which can face any harsh space conditions. However, the huge advantage is that it can be easily transported anywhere, and then taken out into space and inflated to about five times its initial size. Then, it reaches a size of a third of the ISS.
Once the habitat is inflated, it can serve as mostly anything. Apart from being a research and exploration center, it can work as a space farm, a bedroom or cafeteria for astronauts, or maybe as some sort of space yacht for tourists, if technology evolves enough to let non-astronauts travel into space.
At the beginning, the habitat should be taken first to the low orbit of Earth. It should travel aboard a Vulcan rocket and, when reaching the orbit, should get inflated and put at some tests. Then, researchers will now it’s ready to start for the lunar orbit.
Image Source: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory