Bigelow Aerospace rocketed to the top of the news when the company announced its plans to put a “private space yacht” in orbit a couple months ago. Now, the company has released some of the first visuals about these inflatable space pods.
In an Instagram post, Bigelow revealed blueprints of the gigantic tents. All they need in order to make these designs come to life are larger rocket fairings. Rocket fairings, which are found at the very tip of the rocket, are used to protect payloads. In this case, the payload would be the inflatable pod called the B330 .
The aerospace company’s original design for the B330 came in at 330 cubic meters, which is a fraction of the size of a standard hot air balloon. Only you and a couple of your closest friends could comfortably live in there. All of this could be packed in a 5 meter rocket fairing.
By doubling the size of that fairing, Bigelow’s post shows it could fit a 5,000-cubic-meter pod onto a rocket. That’s roughly the size of two and a half hot air balloons put together. Your whole extended family could come chill in orbit.
In a statement back in October, Bigelow said its original B330 design could be used to “provide anchorage for significant lunar business development in addition to offering NASA and other governments the Moon as an new exciting location to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training.”
By making these inflatable space stations fifteen times bigger, they can be used to carry out large-scale experiments or projects that involve a lot of people, for much less than what a traditional space station costs.
The International Space Station (ISS), for example, cost around $150 billion to build. The Washington Post estimates that it would cost $2.3 billion to send the original B330 into space. That’s still a ton of money, but a fraction of the bill the ISS ran up.
The future of commercial space travel might look a lot like the Stoweflake Balloon Festival.