I’d gotten a heads up about this over the holidays, but now it’s official:
- This new funded contract follows an unfunded agreement signed in 2011 under which Bigelow has worked on various “procedures and protocols for adding BEAM to the space station”.
- As indicated above, the module would be delivered to the station by either a SpaceX Falcon 9 or Orbital Antares rocket.
- BEAM would provide extra storage while also providing data and experience for both Bigelow and NASA on installing and using a module with a non-metal structure in a working space station environment.
It doesn’t sound like it will create more habitable volume, in terms of allowing bigger crews, but it will provide valuable experience, and allow more useful expansion later.