Wednesday, January 16, 2013


NASA has awarded BIGELOW a $17.8 million contract to provide a new addition to the ISS. 
Good that Bigelow purchased the rights to the patents developed by NASA.
- LRK -
This illustration shows a Bigelow inflatable module attached to the ISS. - NASA

This illustration shows a Bigelow inflatable module attached to the ISS. - NASA

 Jan. 16, 2013

Trent J. Perrotto
Headquarters, Washington

RELEASE: 13-024


LAS VEGAS -- NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver announced Wednesday
a newly planned addition to the International Space Station that will
use the orbiting laboratory to test expandable space habitat
technology. NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow
Aerospace to provide a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM),
which is scheduled to arrive at the space station in 2015 for a
two-year technology demonstration.

"Today we're demonstrating progress on a technology that will advance
important long-duration human spaceflight goals," Garver said.
"NASA's partnership with Bigelow opens a new chapter in our
continuing work to bring the innovation of industry to space,
heralding cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in
space safely and affordably."

The BEAM is scheduled to launch aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo
resupply mission to the station contracted by NASA, currently planned
for 2015. Following the arrival of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft
carrying the BEAM to the station, astronauts will use the station's
robotic arm to install the module on the aft port of the Tranquility

After the module is berthed to the Tranquility node, the station crew
will activate a pressurization system to expand the structure to its
full size using air stored within the packed module.

During the two-year test period, station crew members and ground-based
engineers will gather performance data on the module, including its
structural integrity and leak rate. An assortment of instruments
embedded within module also will provide important insights on its
response to the space environment. This includes radiation and
temperature changes compared with traditional aluminum modules.

"The International Space Station is a uniquely suited test bed to
demonstrate innovative exploration technologies like the BEAM," said
William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration
and operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "As we venture
deeper into space on the path to Mars, habitats that allow for
long-duration stays in space will be a critical capability. Using the
station's resources, we'll learn how humans can work effectively with
this technology in space, as we continue to advance our understanding
in all aspects for long-duration spaceflight aboard the orbiting

Astronauts periodically will enter the module to gather performance
data and perform inspections. Following the test period, the module
will be jettisoned from the station, burning up on re-entry.

The BEAM project is sponsored by NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems
(AES) Program, which pioneers innovative approaches to rapidly and
affordably develop prototype systems for future human exploration
missions. The BEAM demonstration supports an AES objective to develop
a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.

For more information about Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

For more information about the International Space Station and
animation of the BEAM, visit:

More information, images, and notes from NASA Spaceflight.
- LRK -

Expanding on Bigelow’s inflatable module for the ISS
January 12, 2013 by Pete Harding, Chris Bergin

NASA managers are set to provide details on the deal they have signed with Bigelow Aerospace for an inflatable module to become part of the International Space Station (ISS). The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be a vital testbed for future applications and may ride to the ISS inside the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon.

And of course see Bigelow
- LRK -
Bigelow at Wikepedia
- LRK -
Bigelow Aerospace is a North Las Vegas, Nevada space technology startup company that is pioneering work on expandable space station modules. Bigelow Aerospace was founded by Robert Bigelow in 1998[3] and is funded in large part by the fortune Bigelow gained through his ownership of the hotel chain Budget Suites of America. By 2010, Bigelow had invested US$180 million in the company.[4]Bigelow has stated on multiple occasions that he is prepared to fund Bigelow Aerospace with about US$500 million through 2015 in order to achieve launch of full-scale hardware.[3][5] Bigelow is pioneering a new market in a flexible and configurable set of space habitats.[6]Moreover, industry observers have noted that Bigelow is demonstrating audacity to pioneer such a market "in a capital-intensive, highly-regulated industry like spaceflight."[6]
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module for the ISS

Full-scale mock-up of BEAM seen on 16 January 2013
With NASA taking a second look at expandable module technology beginning in early 2010 (see History section, above),[8][20] various module options were considered throughout the year. As of January 2011, Bigelow is in discussions with NASA to provide a torus-shaped storage module, called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, for the International Space Station (ISS). If NASA gives the go-ahead, this sub-scale demonstration of Bigelow technology would be able to be on-orbit 24 months later.[21] In particular, the BEAM could be used as a centrifuge demo preceding further developments of Nautilus-X.[22]
As of 11 January 2013, NASA has formally signed a $17.8 million contract with Bigelow to add the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) module to the ISS.[23]

I hope all goes well for Bigelow and SpaceX on this upcoming 2015 mission.
Hmmm, does this still qualify as a private company endeavor when contracted with a government agency like NASA?
Hmmm, and United Launch Alliance?
Would really be nice if there will be more interest from others to go to space besides the government   .
Positive results and lessons learned should help towards looking beyond low Earth Orbit for further contracts.
Maybe Russia trying out their new launch facility with a mission to the Moon will be another reason to look up.
- LRK -