The International Space Station Is Getting An Inflatable 'Space Hotel' This Week

05/04/2016 12:16

A space hotel sounds like science fiction but the truth is we're a lot closer than you might think.

Bigelow Aerospace is, this week, adding the first new room to the International Space Station since 2011 in the form of a giant inflatable ball.

NASA NASA / Reuters

Called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) it is an experimental new living space which forgoes all the heavy clunky metal used in current spaceship construction and instead is built from a foldable material.

As such, BEAM will be launched aboard Space X's Dragon spacecraft neatly folded inside a compartment.

When it gets to the ISS it'll be attached to the station and then inflated before beginning a two-year trial period during which Bigelow will make sure that it's safe for human living.

So what is BEAM like inside? Well when the astronauts poke their heads inside every now and then they'll be in for a treat. BEAM's construction means that the module will feel positively spacious and thanks to the lack of equipment it'll be a quiet roomy area that astronauts can potentially use a place to stretch their legs.

While building rooms in space out of fabric might sound dangerous Bigelow claim to have created a top-secret material which provides not only the radiation protection needed to keep astronauts safe but is strong enough to withstand the micrometeorites that pose a deadly threat to the station on a daily basis.

Bigelow is just one of a number of private space industries that have started to take advantage of the lowering costs associated with space travel and the company hopes that their living habitats can form the template for a new, even larger space station.

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