Aerospace companies partner to launch inflatable lunar habitat
ULA and Bigelow Aerospace are going to be working together in a project that aims to place an inflatable space station around the moon by 2022.
SPACE — Aerospace companies United Launch Alliance and Bigelow Aerospace are collaborating to put a space station in orbit around the moon.
According to a press release from ULA, the lunar depot plan is aiming to place a Bigelow B330 inflatable habitat in low lunar orbit by the end of 2022.
ULA's Vulcan rocket will launch the B330 into lower Earth orbit, where it will stay for about a year. While there, the habitat will receive supplies and get crew members rotated every few months.
Two more Vulcan rockets will then be launched, and their upper stages — called Advanced Cryogenic Evolved Stage, or ACES — left in orbit. After propellant from one ACES is transferred to the other, the fully fueled stage will attach to the B330 and deliver it to its final position orbiting the moon.
The companies claim the habitat can serve both as a platform for lunar business development, and a location for NASA to conduct exploration and astronaut training missions.
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