The B330 space pods — Screegrab from YouTube/Bigelow AerospaceLAS VEGAS, Feb 25 — The prospect of commercial space tourism is one step closer to reality, with the news that a Las Vegas-based aerospace company aims to launch a pair of inflatable, inhabitable space pods by 2021.
Earlier this week, Bigelow Aerospace unveiled ambitious plans to launch two commercial habitats, the B330-1 and B330-2, into space in three years, as part of a larger vision that would make a commercial space habitat a viable and imminent reality.
The vision would be a natural progression for founder Robert T. Bigelow, who also owns the hotel chain Budget Suites of America.
The fully autonomous, standalone space stations launch at one-third their size, before expanding to 55 feet (17 m) in length, and a volume of 12,000 cubic feet (330 cubic metres) — big enough to accommodate six people.
Bigelow also announced the creation of Bigelow Space Operations, a new commercial space company that will oversee and manage the B330s.
Spacecraft uses proposed by the company include largely scientific purposes, including microgravity research, dormitory for deep sleep, hospital, training, biohazard research and military applications.
But the list also includes proposals that fall in line with space tourism: entertainment, kitchen/cafeteria, “private space yacht” and deep space habitat.
The company also told The Verge it’s open to turning the facilities into space hotels.