Friday, January 11, 2013

Official: NASA, Bigelow Enter into Agreement

On January 7 it was reported that NASA was about to announce an agreement that could place a Bigelow inflatable habitat at the International Space Station.

That became official today, when NASA issued a press release:

NASA has awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide a new addition to the International Space Station. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will demonstrate the benefits of this space habitat technology for future exploration and commercial space endeavors.

"The International Space Station is a unique laboratory that enables important discoveries that benefit humanity and vastly increase understanding of how humans can live and work in space for long periods," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said. "This partnership agreement for the use of expandable habitats represents a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important progress in U.S. commercial space innovation."

Garver and Bigelow Aerospace Founder and President Robert Bigelow will discuss the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module program at a media availability at 1:30 p.m. EST (10:30 a.m. PST) Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Bigelow Aerospace facilities located at 1899 W. Brooks Ave. in North Las Vegas.

SpaceRef.com posted a summary of the contract details.

According to their post, the contract was awarded on December 20, 2012 and runs through December 19, 2017. The contract description:

UNDER THIS CONTRACT, THE CONTRACTOR SHALL CONTRACTOR (sic) TO PROVIDE AND OPERATE THE BIGELOW EXPANDABLE ACTIVITY MODULE (BEAM) ON-BOARD THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION (ISS). THIS EFFORT IS FOR PHASE 2 OF THE BEAM ISS DEMONSTRATION MODULE PROJECT, AND ESTABLISHES THE REQUIREMENTS, PERFORMANCE METRICS, COSTS, AND MANAGEMENT OF THE EFFORT THAT WILL BE USED TO DESIGN, DELIVER, AND OPERATE THE BEAM.

Here are various media reports on the official announcement:

Bloomberg News “NASA Goes Ikea to Test Inflatable Annex for Space Station”

Florida Today “NASA to Add a Bigelow Inflatable Module to the ISS”

Huntsville Times “NASA Hires Bigelow Aerospace to Put Inflatable Module on International Space Station”

Orlando Sentinel “NASA and Bigelow Aerospace to Announce Plans for Inflatable Station Modules”

Space.com “NASA Buys Private Inflatable Room for Space Station”

Space.com “Inflatable Private Space Stations: Bigelow's Big Dream”

1 comment:

  1. 18 million bucks is ... not exactly chicken feed, but not too far away from that. It's a sufficiently small number that it's probably no more than a rounding error in most NASA budget calculations.

    So why has it taken so long? It strikes me, they could have given Bigelow a contract like this any time in the last ten years. Am I missing something?

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