Bigelow Aerospace and NASA are reevaluating their plans for the expansion of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) after astronauts on the International Space Station were unable to expand the module to its full size on Thursday.
Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance announced a partnership April 11 that could lead to the launch of a Bigelow expandable module to be installed on the International Space Station as soon as 2020.
SpaceX is prepared to launch its first cargo mission to the International Space Station since a June 2015 launch failure, a mission that will bring to the station both experiments and a prototype expandable module.
An omnibus spending bill passed by Congress this month directs NASA to accelerate work on a habitation module that could be used for future deep space missions, although how NASA will implement that direction is unclear.
Even though the International Space Station appears likely to remain in use well into the next decade, some in the space industry are pressing NASA to start developing a strategy for what comes after the ISS, an approach that may rely heavily on commercial facilities.
A positive review by the Federal Aviation Administration of a proposed Bigelow Aerospace lunar habitat is seen as a first step towards supporting commercial activities on the moon, but contrary to some reports, that review does not represent a government endorsement of property rights claims there.
Bigelow has hired former NASA astronauts Kenneth Ham and George Zamka to form the cornerstone of the private astronaut corps.
Sierra Nevada Space Systems got a nearly $2 million NASA contract from NASA to build the passive common berthing mechanism.
Bigelow Aerospace has produced a report for NASA that shows how the agency could use privately operated space systems beyond low Earth orbit.
NASA wants a single contractor to build a Passive Common Berthing Mechanism then attach it to the BEAM.