Home Science Space NASA signs Moon deal with Bigelow Aerospace
Bigelow's Moon base will likely use inflatable modules. Bigelow's Moon base will likely use inflatable modules. Bigelow Aerospace

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NASA wants to establish a lunar base, but would like to have private enterprise do it. The U.S. space agency has contracted with Bigelow Aerospace to plan an initial design for a permanent outpost on the Moon.

David Weaver, who is NASA’s associate administrator, announced that NASA would conduct an "initial planning phase" study with Bigelow Aerospace. NASA and Bigelow Aerospace eventually have the intention to develop a design for a lunar base.

Weaver states within the April 23, 2013 DailyTech article NASA and Bigelow Aerospace Sign Lunar Base Deal, “As part of our broader commercial space strategy, NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to foster ideas about how the private sector can contribute to future human missions.”

He adds, “This will provide important information on possible ways to expand our exploration capabilities in partnership with the private sector. The agency is intensely focused on a bold mission to identify, relocate and explore an asteroid with American astronauts by 2025 — all as we prepare for an even more ambitious human mission to Mars in the 2030s. NASA has no plans for a human mission to the moon.”

Bigelow Aerospace was founded and is operated by Robert Bigelow, who is financing his start-up aerospace company from money he made from his successful Budget Suites of America hotel chain.

The goal of Bigelow Aerospace, which is headquartered in North Las Vegas, Nevada, in the United States, has been to concentrate on the design and development of low-cost inflatable spacecraft.

Bigelow Aerospace initially bought the commercial rights to NASA patents involving TransHab (which is short for transit habitat), an inflatable living space module made of lightweight, flexible materials that are stronger than steel.

Bigelow launched and orbited its Genesis I module in 2006, and later did likewise with its Genesis II module. Both modules are currently in orbit about Earth, sending data to its North Las Vegas mission control personnel on its performance while in space.

The company has also been developing its BA 330 module. The space habitation module, expandable to 12,000 cubic feet (330 cubic meters), has been designed to accommodate scientific and manufacturing research while in the weightless environment of space in orbit about Earth. The module also could accommodate space tourism, a fledgling industry in space.

Bigelow Aerospace is also designing a BA 2100 module that would need a heavy-lift rocket to propel it to low-Earth orbit. The module is planned to be six times larger than the BA 330, with a volume of 77,690 cubic feet (2,200 cubic meters).

In addition, Bigelow Aerospace is also developing a series of inflatable modules for use as a space station. Under the name of Bigelow Next-Generation Commercial Space Station, the modules would contain a central docking node, astronaut capsules, solar arrays, propulsion, and further features.

The modules could be added on to the International Space Station or be made into a new space station. This inflatable complex could also be used for a lunar outpost, as now envisioned by NASA and Bigelow Aerospace.

For more on the plans of NASA and Bigelow Aerospace to someday place a lunar outpost on the Moon, please read the above-mentioned article by Daily Tech: “NASA and Bigelow Aerospace Sign Lunar Base Deal



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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University