NASA Experiments with Inflatable 'Space House'

How do you transfer a large object into space with a small rocket? That's what researchers have been pondering with a possible mission to Mars in the future. And now, they're testing one of the options. A supply rocket launched from Cape Canaveral last week is bringing what's called an "expandable habitat" to the International Space Station. The small, inflatable room is sort of like a zero-gravity bounce house.

The aluminum and fabric module is meant to be a test for space habitats. It's a prototype that will attach to the station and then inflate up to four times its size, about the size of a small bedroom. Astronauts will enter it only about four times a year to conduct experiments, but no crew sleepovers are planned just yet. NASA says the technology could end up being used in future missions to Mars.

The space technology company, Bigelow Aerospace created the expandable habitat NASA is experimenting with... But they've got bigger plans for inflatables in space, including, a much larger habitat. The company wants to create a comfortable module for up to six astronauts, used for deep space exploration including habitats on Mars. But what's it look like inside one of these structures? Rachel Crane gives a tour of what could be a future space home.

Instructional Links

Video: Space.com, How NASA Will Inflate Room in Space Station

http://www.space.com/19296-how-nasa-will-add-inflatable-room-to-space-station-video.html

Website Article: NASA, BEAM Facts, Figures, FAQs

http://www.nasa.gov/feature/beam-facts-figures-faqs

Website Article: Smithsonian TweenTribune: We Thought We'd Be Living In Space (Or Under Giant Domes) By Now

http://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween56/we-thought-wed-be-living-space-or-under-giant-domes-now/

Website Article: Bigelow Aerospace, BEAM, The Experimental Platform

http://bigelowaerospace.com/beam/

Videos: PBS LearningMedia, Living & Working in Space

http://ideastream.pbslearningmedia.org/collection/living-and-working-in-space/

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