January 16, 2013
A low-cost space dwelling that inflates like a balloon in orbit will be tested aboard the International Space Station, opening the door for commercial leases of future free-flying outposts and deep-space astronaut habitats for NASA.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, nicknamed BEAM, will be the third orbital prototype developed and flown by privately owned Bigelow Aerospace.
The Las Vegas-based company, founded in 1999 by Budget Suites of America hotel chain owner Robert Bigelow, currently operates two small unmanned experimental habitats called Genesis 1, which was launched in 2006, and Genesis 2, which followed a year later.
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