SpaceX is launching an inflatable space habitat for the ISS
On its next trip to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX’s Dragon rocket will be carrying an inflatable module on its payload. The module–the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM–will essentially create a new room on the ISS once it is connected and inflated. At full inflation, the BEAM’s internal volume will be ten times its launch volume.
Inflatable modules are attractive from a mass and volume perspective. Before launch, they are smaller and lighter requiring less fuel and other expenses. This concept is not new to space. NASA originally licensed its inflatable technology in 2000 before Congress canceled the TransHab project and NASA’s first communications satellite, Echo, was inflatable.
For more information on this project, check out this article from TechCrunch.