Bigelow Aerospace and NASA exploring inflatable moon base and other human exploration missions

Cosmislog – Bigelow Aerospace and NASA say they’ve agreed to look at ways for private ventures to contribute to human exploration missions, perhaps including construction of a moon base.

NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to foster ideas about how the private sector can contribute to future human missions. NASA still is focused on a mission to an Asteroid by 2025 and human missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Bigelow Aerospace is focused on moon bases.The Nevada-based company has been working on moonbase concepts for years. During a recent interview on the “Coast to Coast AM” radio show, billionaire founder Robert Bigelow said the potential objectives for private-sector space efforts include a lunar base as well as space stations or refueling depots placed at gravitational balance points in the Earth-moon system.

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA already have an agreement to put an inflatable module on the International Space Station by 2015.

Eventually, Bigelow plans to put a separate commercial space station in orbit, assembled from two even larger inflatable modules. Each of these BA330 modules would have a habitable volume of 330 cubic meters, and putting two of them together would create an “Alpha Station” for a maximum crew of 12. Gold said that the company was continuing to discuss the concept with international space agencies and corporations, but he emphasized that the venture depended on having regular commercial flights to orbit.

Bigelows plans will really takeoff if Spacex is successful developing the reusable rocket which will lower costs to get to space by up to 100 times. Spacex will try to softland a rocket stage into the ocean later this year and then try to land a first stage rocket next year.

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