- Pope Francis wins another ‘Person of the Year’ — from gay rights magazine
- Rep. Steve Stockman: Give my campaign $10, and you’ll get an Obama barf bag
- Putin: Russia to buy $15 billion in Ukraine bonds
- Expert: Obamacare ‘death spiral’ fears exaggerated
- Alabama firefighters dig for survivors of apartment blast
- Big Sur wildfire destroys home of firefighting chief
- ‘ ’Twas the Night Before Christmas’ set for mock trial to argue authorship
- Angela Merkel’s third term as Germany’s chancellor to be marked by move to left
- Mega Millions entices with record-setting jackpot: Half a billion so far
- Dennis Rodman heads to North Korea — despite execution, political purge
Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room
LAS VEGAS (AP) - NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome “metal cans” that now serve as astronauts’ homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap.
A $17.8 million test project will send to the International Space Station an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery, officials said Wednesday in a news conference at North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace.
Founder and President Robert Bigelow, who made his fortune in the hotel industry before getting into the space business in 1999, framed the gambit as an out-of-this-world real estate venture. He hopes to sell his spare tire habitats to scientific companies and wealthy adventurers looking for space hotels.
The new technology provides three times as much room as the existing aluminum models, and is also easier and less costly to build, Miller said.
Artist renderings of the module resemble a tinfoil clown nose grafted onto the main station. It is hardly big enough to be called a room. Miller described it as a large closet with padded white walls and gear and gizmos strung from two central beams.
Garver said Wednesday that sending a small inflatable tube into space will be dramatically cheaper than launching a full-sized module.
“Let’s face it; the most expensive aspect of taking things in space is the launch,” she said. “So the magnitude of importance of this for NASA really can’t be overstated.”
The partnership is another step toward outsourcing for NASA, which no longer enjoys the budget and public profile of its heyday. The agency has handed off rocket-building to private companies, retired it space shuttles in 2011 and now relies on Russian spaceships to transport American astronauts to and from the space station.
Astronauts will test the ability of the bladder, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, to withstand heat, radiation, debris and other assaults. Some adventurous scientists might also try sleeping in the spare room, which is the first piece of private real estate to be blasted into space, Garver said.
“This year is probably going to be our kickoff year for talking to customers,” he said. “We have to show that we can execute what we’re talking about.”
Bigelow, who launched a small prototype of the module in 2006 after licensing the patent from NASA, will rely on Boeing Co. and Southern California rocket developer Space Exploration Technologies to provide transportation.
By John R. Bolton
The president fiddles at his domestic altar while the world burns
- PRUDEN: The scam that will not die
- Wasted: Tom Coburn's 'Wastebook targets 70 days in bed, Facebook
- Robert E. Lee and 'Stonewall' Jackson tributes face Army War College removal
- BOLTON: Nero in the White House
- Zadzooks: The Joker sixth scale figure review (Sideshow Collectibles)
- House seeks Fast and Furious gun-walking documents
- Army to cut up to 4,000 captains and majors
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Domino's launches its first vegan pizza
- OBAMASCARE: Huge premium hikes rock employer-insured workers
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Wall Street news for retail investors who want to know what's going on.
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow