This is not some crazy idea or ridiculous flight of fancy; inflatable spacecraft have already been tried and tested, and it will not be long until the International Space Station is joined by these rather more expandable brothers and sisters in Earth orbit.
Bigelow Aerospace flew two unmanned inflatable spacecraft, Genesis I and II, in 2006 and 2007 respectively to test this technology. They are precursors to Bigelow Aerospace’s next venture, the BA 330 (above).
In 2015, Bigelow Aerospace will dock an inflatable module with the ISS to further test the concept, with a fully-fledged inflatable space station due by the end of the decade.
For more on inflatable space stations, check out issue 8 of All About Space magazine.
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