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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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  • So where do they (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:58AM (#42581147)

    So where do they get the air to inflate it?

    they'd better have a puncture repair kit too

  • Re:uuh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GreenTech11 ( 1471589 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @10:14AM (#42581267)

    I don't doubt the science behind the concept, and your point about debris being able to puncture the exterior no matter what is a good one. I'm curious about the potential psychological impact of the module. Even if it's completely irrational (and the FA says non-rigid exteriors are better able to withstand a micrometeor), I can't help but feel that if I was up in the ISS, I'd want a solid metal wall, rather than an inflatable fabric one.

    Having said that, being able to more than double the size, and presumably living space, of the ISS would probably do a great deal of good psychologically. Not to mention the fact that people who choose to go on missions to the ISS must have a certain amount of crazy to begin with, so probably wont care in the same way an ordinary mortal such as myself would.

    The next question of course is how to get it up there? It's about 10x more than the maximum payload of either the Dragon or Soyuz rockets...

  • Re:uuh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @11:07AM (#42581699)

    I think this would be an interesting science experiment, both the biology of "is a space sickness adjusted human vulnerable to wobbly walls" and the science experiment of repetitive strain failure modes of flex materials (the skin doesn't bend twice, once when made and once when inflated in space, it bends at say 1 Hz continuous while deployed if the structure wobbles.

    As far as the repetitive strain failure goes, there have been two testbeds of the inflatable module in space for five or so years each, neither of which failed that way.

    And given the pressure differential involved, I suspect that the walls would seem as rigid as steel - 15cm thick, supported by 14.7psi (yes, I'm mixing measurement systems shamelessly) internal pressure isn't going to allow much room for "wobbly walls"....

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev