Fifty Years of Inflatable Space Stations


1||NASA has recently been talking to Las Vegas based Bigelow Aerospace about producing a new module for the International Space Station based on a simple, space-saving concept: the balloon. The photo above shows a configuration of three Bigelow modules that can house up to a crew of six.||Bigelow Aerospace&&
2||Bigelow modules could be used as part of mission to Mars. The modules are deflated and stored during launch saving valuable cargo space. Once in orbit, the modules expand.||Bigelow Aerospace&&
3||A cross-section of an inflatable space module.||flickr/jedibfa&&
4||By 2017, Bigelow Aerospace hopes to have Space Station Bravo operational.||Bigelow Aerospace&&
5||Nasa has been experimenting with inflatable space satellites since its founding. Echo I, pictured above, was launched in 1960. It passively reflected telephone, radio, and television signals.||NASA&&
6||Echo II, a larger version of Echo I, was launched January 25, 1964. It had a diameter of 135 feet.||NASA&&
7||PAGEOS (Passive Geodetic Earth Orbiting Satellite) was launched in 1966. It helped provide more accurate geolocation of Earth objects. It had a volume of 524,000 cubic feet and was coated with vapour deposited aluminium.||NASA&&
8||In 1997, scientists at Johnson Space Center in Houston came up with the idea of using an inflatable craft for use as a living module for the new ISS or for future missions to Mars. The scientists called the concept “TransHab.”||NASA&&
9||A diagram of Transhab’s levels from a 2000 Nasa document.||NASA&&
10||Two photos of a Transhab prototype. On the left is Transhab deflated a folded. On the right, expanded as it would be in space. From a 2000 Nasa document.||NASA&&
11||The International Space Station in front of the Caspian Sea.||NASA&&