American space company Bigelow Aerospace is planning to put an inflatable space module to the Moon's orbit.
The B330 module should serve as a depot for testing innovative technologies and training astronauts for missions in outer space.
Bigelow has long been developing such modules. By the way, the module is easy to deliver: it is meant to launch deflated to save space on top of the rocket, and later inflate to serve as “living quarters” for six astronauts.
Bigelow Aerospace plans to use the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket to launch B330 to the orbit of the Moon. Vulcan is supposed to begin missions in 2019.
Before launching the module to the lunar orbit, the company plans to loft it into a lower Earth orbit in order to test its efficiency. Later it will be sent to the Moon. Two more Vulcan rockets will be used, leaving both of the vehicles’ upper stages in orbit. These stages can remain in space to serve as engines for other space stations. If the trial launch is successful, the lunar orbit will have its own residential space platform by 2022.
Get an overview of the global space market
Sign up for industry news