Space company wants to bring inflatable living module for astronauts to moon maan

The American aerospace company Bigelow Aerospace has plans to launch an inflatable space module in 2022 to enter low orbit around the moon. The module is to be used for commercial activities and for training NASA astronauts.

Bigelow is working with the commercial space agency United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, to launch the inflatable B330 module into low-lunar orbit via an under-development Vulcan 562 rocket. Once everything is up and running, two Vulcan rockets, each with an ACES rocket stage, will be launched. Once in low lunar orbit, all cryogenic fuel is siphoned from one rocket stage to another. It will then take the B330 module to the moon. Bigelow Aerospace is not entirely clear on exactly how astronauts are brought to the module; space capsules will probably be able to dock with the module, just like a regular space station like the ISS.

Expandable or inflatable modules such as the B330 require relatively little rocket fuel for transportation and can provide a fairly spacious and comfortable living space for astronauts. The hull of the B330 inflatable module is formed by a combination of layers of foam rubber, Nextel insulation material, Kevlar and a fire-resistant fabric. This leads to a hull with a total thickness of almost half a meter. According to Bigelow, the hull is as hard as concrete when inflated and is more resistant to radiation and space debris than the aluminum hull of the ISS. The material must also be able to provide protection against high and low outside temperatures. A B330 module has a volume of 330 cubic meters and is comparable in volume to one third of the living space in the ISS. Ultimately, the concept could be used to accommodate a crew for a mission to Mars.

An inflatable module was already brought to the ISS in 2016 with a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX; this BEAM is a smaller experimental module of only 16 cubic meters. In April 2016, the module arrived at the ISS and at the end of May 2016 the module was blown up. Tests are being carried out to see how the material will cope with the conditions in space and whether it can withstand space radiation and debris.

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