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Inflatable space hotel to blast off


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This sounds like an April Fools Joke but is dated 13th April...

THE first reservations have been made for a hotel in space - but you won't be checking in just yet.

Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, Nevada - a nascent space tourism company owned by hotelier Robert Bigelow - has reserved slots on two Russian Dnepr rockets, which are converted SS-18 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Each rocket will launch a scaled-down prototype of the company's inflatable space habitat into low-Earth orbit later this year. The launch dates cannot be divulged because the use of an ICBM means the information falls under US arms trade restrictions.

The full-size version, based on an abandoned NASA design for an inflatable space station called TransHab, is expected to provide 330 cubic metres of living space with a 30-centimetre-thick multilayered polymer and Kevlar hull to protect against space debris. The one-third-size prototype will in part be testing the ability of the compacted form to expand like a concertina when deployed. "There has never been a system like this in microgravity and we need to know if it will work," says Mike Gold of Bigelow.

From issue 2547 of New Scientist magazine, 13 April 2006, page 6


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