Bigelow and ULA plan orbital moonbase by 2022

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Bigelow and ULA plan orbital moonbase by 2022

Roald Dahl might have warned of the dangers of space hotels, but that hasn't put off billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who has said he will put an inflatable "habitat" into space by the end of 2022.

A Las Vegas-based space pod company Bigelow Aerospace plans to send an inflatable space hotel into lunar orbit within five years, according to United Launch Alliance, which is set to provide the project with a carrier rocket. Compressed into a cylindrical package one-third of its full size, when deployed in space, the B330 will employ an onboard atmospheric system to slowly expand into a bulbous cylinder with a volume of 330 cubic meters, or 11,654 cubic feet.

Aerospace company is planning to send a habitation module in orbit, the satellite of the Earth already by 2022.

United Launch Alliance is a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Once the habitat is in orbit, Bigelow will ensure it is functioning correctly and outfit its interior.

The B330 would launch to Low Earth Orbit on a Vulcan 562 configuration rocket, the only commercial launch vehicle in development today with sufficient performance and a large enough payload fairing to carry the habitat. A series of astronaut crews would then go on board to give it a thorough shakedown. It will provide NASA and America with an exciting and financially practical success opportunity that can be accomplished in the short term. Distributed lift would also use two more Vulcan Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage (ACES) launches, each carrying 35 tons of cryogenic propellant to LEO.

Once in orbit, The fuel from the other ACES rockets would act as propellant tankers to top up the last one, which would dock with the B330 and power it into a lunar transfer orbit.

"This commercial lunar depot would provide anchorage for significant lunar business development in addition to offering NASA and other governments the Moon as a new exciting location to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training".

Two B330 habitats are now under construction. Leveraging its Vulcan launcher, ACES in-space capabilities, the XEUS lander, and new its partnership with Bigelow, ULA appears eager to expand the "cislunar space economy".

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