Private Inflatable Space Station Could Launch In 2020

The company responsible for sending an inflatable pop-up room to the International Space Station could launch an entire inflatable space station as early as 2020.

Bigelow Aerospace sent its Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the ISS aboard the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship last week.

The module could lead to inflatable habitats being used on Mars on future missions.

The idea is that larger rooms can be packed up into smaller spaces to keep cargo to a minimum on deep-space missions.

The BEAM module as it will look attached to the ISS (Bigelow Aerospace)

The aerospace firm has teamed up with United Launch Alliance to send two of its bigger B330 inflatable modules to orbit in 2020.

Bigelow is in talks with NASA about the possibility of attaching the new units to the ISS following the initial launch.

The B330 is 20 times bigger than BEAM and would boost the internal capacity of the ISS by a whopping 30%.

The inflatable craft will support zero gravity research and could potentially be hired out to private companies and space tourists in future.

Image credit: Bigelow Aerospace