The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the United States Government agency working for civilian space programs. It’s a pioneer and highly honored organization dedicated to space exploration, scientific discoveries and aerospace research. Its mission is to work towards peaceful space science application programs. NASA has undertaken various space missions like Apollo moon-landing mission, Skylab Space Station and Space Shuttles
NASA programs are both manned and unmanned with military rockets, spacecraft and moon Lander falling under manned programs; various telescopic satellites orbiting around earth falls for the later.
Currently NASA is working in projects pertaining to Commercial Crew Vehicles, Launch Service Programs and International Space Station.
Earlier in mid 1990s , NASA had licensed Bigelow, a North Las Vegas; Nevada based pioneer space technology company for development of flexible, inflatable and configurable set of space habitats and multi-layer space module technology because Congress had canceled International Space Station Trans Hab project due to delays and budget problems. Bigelow was awarded three Space Act agreement as per which Bigelow Aerospace is the sole proprietary company for several of NASA’s key expandable module technologies.
In 2006/2007 the 2006/2007 launched Genesis I and Genesis II turning the concept of space tourism into reality. At present Bigelow Aerospace has agreement with six leading nations to utilize its orbit facilities.
This year on 11th January NASA has awarded contract to Bigelow Aerospace for development and procurement of BEAM, an inflatable module for use on the International Space Station (ISS) during 2015 to 2017. Through this partnership agreement between NASA and Bigelow Aerospace, for the use of expandable habitats, they will be working together in cutting-edge technology and it will be an important progress towards U.S. commercial space innovation programs.
BEAM is likely to be similar to Bigelow’s Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 prototypes, roughly cylindrical in shape having dimensions of 14.4 feet long by 8.3 feet wide (4.4 by 2.5 meters), with about 406 cubic feet (11.5 cubic m) of pressurized volume. Its mass and volume are relatively small thereby reducing launch costs.
The first two-years will be dedicated to tests and inspection. The station crew members and ground – based engineers will gather performance data on the module, including its structural integrity, leak rate and response to the space environment e.g., radiation and temperature changes. Following the test period, the module will be jettisoned from the station, burning up on re-entry.
With NASA’s decision to collaborate with Bigelow Aerospace for developing and installing an inflatable module for the International Space Station , the future of establishment of various space stations for astronomical and space science related research programs is emerging brightly.