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posted by martyb on Thursday August 22 2019, @05:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the cheaper-than-buying-a-house? dept.

One could fly to Mars in this spacious habitat and not go crazy

On Wednesday, Sierra Nevada Corporation—the company that makes aerospace equipment, not beer—showed off its proposed in-space habitat for the first time. The inflatable habitat is, first and foremost, large. It measures more than 8 meters long, and with a diameter of 8 meters has an internal volume of 300 cubic meters, which is about one-third the size of the International Space Station.

Sierra Nevada developed this full-scale prototype under a NASA program that funded several companies to develop habitats that could be used for a space station in orbit around the Moon, as well as potentially serving as living quarters for a long-duration transit to and from Mars. As part of the program, NASA astronauts have, or will, spend three days living in and evaluating the prototypes built by Sierra Nevada, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Bigelow Aerospace.

The selling point for Sierra Nevada's habitat is its size, which is possible because the multi-layered fabric material can be compressed for launch, then expanded and outfitted as a habitat once in space. It can fit within a standard payload fairing used for launch vehicles such as SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket, United Launch Alliance's Vulcan booster, or NASA's Space Launch System. It is light enough for any of those rockets to launch to the Moon.

[...] What this habitat does not presently have is an exact purpose. Lindsey said the inflatable habitat, which has some similarities in technology to Bigelow's expandable module attached to the International Space Station, could be sized for any number of missions, from a low-Earth orbit space station to a habitat on the surface of the Moon or Mars.

Where is Bigelow's B330?

Related: Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow Aerospace Forms New Company to Manage Space Stations, Announces Gigantic Inflatable Module

Original Submission

Related Stories

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station 7 comments

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, an experimental inflatable habitat/room attached to the International Space Station, will continue to be used for storage and radiation testing in the near future rather than being jettisoned to burn in Earth's atmosphere:

In a procurement filing, NASA said it was planning to issue a sole-source contract to Bigelow Aerospace in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 for engineering and other services related to extended use of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The planned contract, whose value was not disclosed, will cover three years with two additional one-year options.

BEAM was launched to the ISS in April 2016 and, a month and a half later, attached to the station and expanded to its full size. NASA planned to keep BEAM at the station for two years in order to perform engineering tests about the suitability of such expandable, or inflatable, modules for future use on the station or other missions. At the end of the two-year period, NASA planned to jettison BEAM and allow it to destructively reenter the atmosphere.

NASA now sees BEAM, in additional to an engineering testbed, as a place for additional storage on the ISS. "BEAM continues to demonstrate positive performance in space and initial studies have shown that it can be used long-term on the ISS to support the government's needs for on-orbit stowage and for technology demonstrations," the agency said in its procurement filing.

The agency expects to use BEAM to store more than 100 Cargo Transfer Bags, a standard unit of cargo storage on the station that measures about half a cubic meter. That will free up the equivalent of about four payload racks in other modules of the station for research. NASA will also continue to study the module's effectiveness for radiation and debris shielding.

Also at Ars Technica.

Original Submission

Bigelow Aerospace Forms New Company to Manage Space Stations, Announces Gigantic Inflatable Module 26 comments

Bigelow Aerospace has created a spinoff company that will manage its orbital space stations, and has announced plans for an inflatable module that would be even larger than the B330:

Bigelow Aerospace — the Las Vegas-based company manufacturing space habitats — is starting a spinoff venture aimed at managing any modules that the company deploys into space. Called Bigelow Space Operations (BSO), the new company will be responsible for selling Bigelow's habitats to customers, such as NASA, foreign countries, and other private companies. But first, BSO will try to figure out what kind of business exists exactly in lower Earth orbit, the area of space where the ISS currently resides.

Bigelow makes habitats designed to expand. The densely packed modules launch on a rocket and then inflate once in space, providing more overall volume for astronauts to roam around. The company already has one of its prototype habitats in orbit right now: the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, which has been attached to the International Space Station since 2016. The BEAM has proven that Bigelow's expandable habitat technology not only works, but also holds up well against the space environment.

Now, Bigelow is focusing on its next space station design: the B330. The habitat is so named since it will have 330 cubic meters (or nearly 12,000 cubic feet) of interior volume when expanded in space. That's about one-third the volume provided by the ISS. Bigelow hopes to launch two B330s as early as 2021, on top of the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rockets, and the company even has plans to put a B330 around the Moon. After that, Bigelow has bigger plans to create a single station with 2.4 times the entire pressurized volume of the ISS, the company announced today. Such a huge station will need to be constructed in an entirely new manufacturing facility that Bigelow plans to build — though the company hasn't decided on a location yet.

Bigelow's BEAM is currently attached to the ISS and has a volume of about 16 cubic meters, which has been described as that of "a large closet with padded white walls". The B330 will have 330 cubic meters of pressurized volume. The newly proposed module is called the BA 2100, or "Olympus", with 2,250 cubic meters of volume, compared to the ISS's total 931 cubic meters. The mass of the BA 2100 could range from 65 to 100 metric tons, likely requiring a super-heavy launcher such as the SLS Block 1B/2 or SpaceX's BFR.

Also at Space News, Motherboard, and

Related: How to Get Back to the Moon in 4 Years, Permanently
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022

Original Submission

Nevada-Based Bigelow Aerospace Lays Off Entire Workforce 8 comments

Bigelow Aerospace lays off entire workforce

Bigelow Aerospace, the company founded more than two decades ago to develop commercial space habitats, laid off all its employees March 23 in a move caused at least in part by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to sources familiar with the company's activities, Bigelow Aerospace's 68 employees were informed that they were being laid off, effective immediately. An additional 20 employees were laid off the previous week.

Those sources said that the company, based in North Las Vegas, Nevada, was halting operations because of what one person described as a "perfect storm of problems" that included the coronavirus pandemic. On March 20, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed an emergency directive ordering all "nonessential" businesses to close.

[...] Robert Bigelow said in a Jan. 28 interview that his company declined to submit a proposal [for an ISS commercial module] to NASA because of financing concerns. NASA, at the time of the competition, said it projected providing up to $561 million to support both a commercial ISS module as well as a separate solicitation for a free-flying facility. "That was asking just too much" of the company, Bigelow said. "So we told NASA we had to bow out."

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module to Continue Stay at the International Space Station
Bigelow and ULA to Put Inflatable Module in Orbit Around the Moon by 2022
Bigelow Aerospace Forms New Company to Manage Space Stations, Announces Gigantic Inflatable Module
Bigelow Aerospace Unveils B330 Inflatable Module Mock-Up

Sierra Nevada Corporation Shows Off an Inflatable Habitat
Expanding, And Eventually Replacing, The International Space Station

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 3, Funny) by ikanreed on Thursday August 22 2019, @06:25PM (4 children)

    by ikanreed (3164) on Thursday August 22 2019, @06:25PM (#883753) Journal

    The day when an international superterrorist's weapon of choice is a fucking sewing needle aren't too far away.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22 2019, @07:56PM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22 2019, @07:56PM (#883769)

    This shell can be only used underground, where at least some protection is available. It will be a while before humans can live on the surface of other planets. In practice, it might need a new human anyway, in robotic body, for example, as every job on the Moon or Mars (setting aside other planets for now) is too dangerous for a human. But the minimal starting point right now would be building and sending self-powered construction robots that can dig up and secure the suitable underground spaces. Then this material can make them airtight.

    For now, though, NASA tourists will be vacationing in this and other tents.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Thursday August 22 2019, @08:43PM

      by takyon (881) <> on Thursday August 22 2019, @08:43PM (#883782) Journal

      The unacceptable radiation risks are defined to be very low.

      We can easily foresee a future in which you live in these places and just use regenerative medicine to counteract any damage caused. And you could get into a nice coffin in the event of a solar storm.

      I see no reason why you couldn't increase the amount of shielding used. Starship will be making it cheap to send more tons of it.

      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22 2019, @08:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 22 2019, @08:18PM (#883775)

    The CO2 for foaming heads, and inflate this unit and makes the human happy while waiting.

    Beer and Ice Cream makes the world good.

  • (Score: -1, Spam) by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23 2019, @05:00AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23 2019, @05:00AM (#883922)

    The inflatable hoes are sold separately, with optional 'ballast'.

    How to steal a city: Montes v. City of Yakima - []

    How to steal a state budget: McCleary, et al. v. State of Washington - Supreme Court Case Number 84362-7: []

  • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Friday August 23 2019, @05:01AM (1 child)

    by captain normal (2205) on Friday August 23 2019, @05:01AM (#883923)

    I know we are talking about out of this world, but the math doesn't add up. I know it's more like a torus or a do-nut than a sphere, but shouldn't the diameter of the do-nut be more like 37.5 meters?

    “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
    • (Score: 2) by Aighearach on Friday August 23 2019, @06:41AM

      by Aighearach (2621) on Friday August 23 2019, @06:41AM (#883949)

      Correct, the math doesn't add, it integrates.

      Hope that helps, now you should have no trouble calculating the required topology, presuming 2 dimensions of symmetry.