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ISS NASA Space Science

NASA Awards Contract To Bigelow Aerospace For Inflatable ISS Module 132

cylonlover writes "NASA has announced that it has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide the International Space Station with an inflatable module. Details of the award will be discussed by NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Bigelow Aerospace President Robert Bigelow at a press conference on January 16 at the Bigelow Aerospace facilities in North Las Vegas. However, based on previous talks, it's likely that the module in question could be the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)."
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NASA Awards Contract To Bigelow Aerospace For Inflatable ISS Module

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  • Re:uuh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by radiumsoup ( 741987 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:57AM (#42581131)

    they've had an inflatable module on orbit for something like 4 years - it's pretty well proven, and much cheaper to put into orbit than fixed-side vehicles. (And as for the idea that something might pop it, if debris is going to poke a hole in a vehicle at *orbital speeds*, it's going to go through kevlar just as easy as it's going to go through the metal the existing space station components are made of.)

  • Re:uuh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slim ( 1652 ) <john@hartnu p . net> on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:59AM (#42581153) Homepage

    If you're thinking about the fragility of flexible walls, Wikipedia says []:

    Bigelow Aerospace anticipates that its inflatable modules will be more durable than rigid modules.[13] This is partially due to the company's use of several layers of vectran, a material twice as strong as kevlar, and also because, in theory, flexible walls should be able to sustain micrometeoroid impacts better than rigid walls. In ground-based testing, micrometeoroids capable of puncturing standard ISS module materials penetrated only about half-way through the Bigelow skin. Operations director Mike Gold commented that Bigelow modules also wouldn't suffer from the same local shattering problems likely with metallic modules. This could provide as much as 24 hours to remedy punctures in comparison to the more serious results of standard ISS skin micrometeoroid damage.

    I'm curious about pressure though. In the vacuum of space, if it's inflated to human-habitable pressures, won't the pressure difference between inside and outside put an enormous strain on the fabric?

  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @12:18PM (#42582321) Homepage Journal

    Someone has been reading his Heinlein. Gentlemen, Be Seated [].

  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @01:52PM (#42583417) Homepage Journal

    As one who happens to be 6'4", I'll say that on Earth a 6 foot ceiling is very different from a 20 foot ceiling. I'm not normally claustrophobic, but every now and then I just like to have some space around me. Skylab was interesting, in that respect, including the open framework floors.

    Never having been in microgravity I can't tell how I'd respond, if being in a space 6'x6'x tens of feet would be sufficient for me, when I'm capable of moving in any of those dimensions.

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