NASA awarded a $17.8 million contract on January 16th to Las Vegas based Bigelow Aerospace to manufacture and test an inflatable International Space Station (ISS) module. This isn’t the first bouncy party gig for the unfortunately named Bigelow Aerospace as they have already produced experimental inflatable stations Genesis I and Genesis II launched in 2006 and 2007, which we hope have nothing to do with Rob Schneider or possible space-borne gigolo services).
“This partnership agreement for the use of expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is scheduled to launch aboard Elon Musk’s eighth SpaceX Dragon spacecraft ISS cargo resupply mission in 2015 for a two-year technology test period. Station crew members and ground-based engineers will gather performance data regarding BEAM’s structural integrity and leak rate, which I’m guessing will also involve horizontal bungie jumping, sumo suits and a bucking bull so astronauts can really get the party started.
William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA Headquarters in Washington said in a press release, “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.”
That’s right, people, he said Mars.
Anika Torruella is a writer, foodie and geek based in Washington, DC. Her website CandyBuffet.com is filled with geek, chic, and science tidbits. and you can follow her at @CandyBuffetBlog on twitter.