NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a new addition to the International Space Station. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will demonstrate the benefits of this space habitat technology for future exploration and commercial space endeavors.
Universe Today has coverage NASA will release more information about the agreement and the module next week, but previous reports have indicated the inflatable module would be used for adding additional storage and workspace, and the module would be certified to remain on-orbit for two years.
Bigelow’s inflatable modules are more resistant to micrometeoroid or orbital debris strikes. Bigelow uses multiple layers of Vectran, a material which is twice as strong as Kevlar. In ground tests, according to NASASpacefight.com, objects that would penetrate ISS modules only penetrated half-way through the skin of Bigelow’s modules.