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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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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Manwhore Enterprises?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by gabereiser ( 1662967 )
      I thought the same thing when I first glaced at the article... I thought to myself, Deuce Bigelow, Male Gigolo, In Space.... eeewwwwwww.
  • Aw Yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by p0p0 ( 1841106 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @09:54AM (#42581113)
    Bouncy Castle INNNNN SPAAACE!
  • So where do they (Score:1, Interesting)

    by rossdee ( 243626 )

    So where do they get the air to inflate it?

    they'd better have a puncture repair kit too

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Jawnn ( 445279 )

      So where do they get the air to inflate it?

      If the answers to this question is not patently obvious to you, turn in your geek card and hang your head in shame.

    • So where do they get the air to inflate it?

      Duh. An astronaut blows it up. Those guys all have good lungs.

    • Just fill it with vacuum. There's plenty of it orbiting our planet. Duh.
    • So where do they get the air to inflate it?

      From a tank of compressed air. (Seriously, how is this even a question?)

      they'd better have a puncture repair kit too

      Presumably they will, but the walls of a module of this type are pretty thick (think car tire, not party balloon), there's multiples layers, and additional micrometeorite and debris shielding on top of that.

      • Presumably they will, but the walls of a module of this type are pretty thick (think car tire, not party balloon)

        Think six inches, not car tire.

        And material stronger than kevlar, not vulcanized rubber.

    • They get it from the US congress.
  • This is 17 million for the study. More importantly, beam will NOT be 65 tonnes. Heck, we have nothing that can take it up since the days of the saturn V. It is a SMALL closet that will weigh under 7 tonnes.
    • by wiggles ( 30088 )

      Source for that?

      Not that I doubt you, but I'd like to read more...

    • How much return of investment is the world getting from the ISS? Is it even close to the cost of maintaining it? If they did find some huge payoff, what would the rest of the world do, if Russia sent three Russian up there to kick off all non-Russian? The same Russians who probably instigated the problems in Georgia and used that as an excuse to intervene. I am just curious since there must be a reason why they want to expand it. I believe there is only 7 years left so if it takes another 2 years to g
      • the expansion is nothing. It is a small closet. It is so that NASA can test things on it. What is interesting is that BA has had 2 coffin-sizes in orbits for a number of years. So, the fabric works. Now, time to test other parts.
    • by Teancum ( 67324 )

      This announcement [nasa.gov] seems to be pretty clear that the $18 million (give or take with some change) is for the module and not merely a study. Yeah, this is causing my head to scratch too. I would think this amount is just throat clearing for a typical NASA project that would provide a stack of power point presentations suggesting a module in the future, but I don't see anywhere in the announcement that this is for a study but rather for actual flying hardware.

      Owing to the fact that I don't know of any launche

      • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

        NASA will likely select a launch vehicle down the road and fund it separately. Being the ISS, it's possible that they will split the module cost with international partners, and then fund the rocket from their budget. Or one of many other options. Bigelow doesn't have their own rocket program so it wouldn't make sense to roll the launch vehicle into the same invoice.

        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          You have got to admit though that if this $18 million is for production space hardware, that is pretty damn cheap. You would be hard pressed to get an individual NASA spacesuit for that price. I would dare say that the cost of preparing meals for the astronauts is pretty close to that figure on an annual basis. Considering that the ISS cost well more than $100 billion to be put into the sky in the first place, this amount of money is merely a rounding error for most NASA projects. It would even be a rea

        • Actually, this will be a small module. Apparently, they are looking at sending it up in the extended trunk of a dragon. The trunk has a length of over 4 M (~15'), and something like 30 m^3 volume. As such, they might be able to send this up next year in one of the scheduled dragons.
          • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

            Source? The article is leaning towards some absurdly huge prototype thing.

            • I know what was said in the article. It was a HORRIBLE article.
              But think about it. There are no launchers today that can launch more than 21 tonnes. Delta IV heavy is the largest going today.
              And yet, they are claiming that it would be 65 tonnes within 2 years? The author in this article is messing up all sorts of facts.
              What is really missing is, that this can NOT be assembled in space. These are single units, i.e. it must be launched as one unit. here you go. [nasaspaceflight.com]
      • I suspect its $18M for a *flyable* module delivered to the launch pad, not for actually getting it to the ISS. Which isn't too shabby for what's basically a big balloon and maybe some life support systems in the central column.

      • Lets wait and see what happens on Weds. However, I agree with you that it would appear to be so. And actually, I have seen multiple links that said that it was for studies on it, not for the hardware. But, I am sure that you have seen nasa space flight is now saying otherwise ( i saw it after I posted here).
        • by Teancum ( 67324 )

          If this does turn out to be the "list price" for a module like this, it will literally blow away the traditional aerospace companies like Boeing and Northrop-Grumman. I really don't know for certain, and as you have said... we will find out on Wednesday. I'm sure that some reporter will ask this very question.

          If this turns into the price for a study, the amount seems to be much more typical. The thing is that Bigelow knows how to make this stuff so I fail to see what a study might actually accomplish....

          • In fact, this might destroy ASI's work on the cans. It always drove me up a wall that we removed competition on the module constructions. BUT, each one of those cans cost something like 200 million on up.

            OTOH, if is 17 million for this small unit, it will be a major paradigm shift. The reason is that BEAM was SUPPOSED to include CBM or LIDS on each side. If they can do all of this for 17 million and all that is needed is to extend the metal core, and increase the size of the outer fabric, well, that means
            • by Teancum ( 67324 )

              I just saw a brief comment on another site (pure speculation on this point though) that suggested this Bigelow module might be able to fly as a secondary payload on one of the SpaceX CRS flights and to put this into the "trunk" of the Dragon. If Bigelow could pull *that* off, it would be even more remarkable. A two for one special is the kind of thing that would prove commercial spaceflight really means to save costs.

              • I know. I saw that. Basically, it requires the F9 V1.1 and extended trunk (I mentioned that on another post in parallel to this). But that is only if BEAM is as small as was originally planned. What is cool about it, is that it could mean that this would go up within a year. That is ideal for everybody. The reason is that it gets Bigelow's manufacturing lines going. Likewise, it allows NASA to play with things and prove to the world that all is good. After all, think of how much NASA has done for SpaceX and
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...Torg's team will be arriving shortly. Suggest you evacuate using the DFA.

  • Ok so it might be viable, but somehow i expect them having tons of trouble convince astronauts thats its safe...
  • There is no inflatable product on the market today that does not eventually develop a leak or burst. Air mattresses, tires, dolls...

  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Monday January 14, 2013 @11:23AM (#42581829)

    Make the balloon a 2-layered affair with a few feet of air space. Then you fill that space with thousands of small floating balloons whose interiors are slightly sticky. Meteorite hits. Small balloons immediately travel to where the air is leaking out, burst, and plug the hole with a bunch of goopy rubber until someone (or some robot) can go outside once a month or so and put on maintenance patches.

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan