An Inflatable Spacecraft (That Works)

This vessel could overturn our notions of what a spacecraft ought to look like.

Instead of the sleek, shiny machines imagined in science-fiction, the practical [spacecraft] of the future may be blobby, soft-sided contraptions.

NASA has contracted a private company, Bigelow Aerospace, to build an inflatable space pod for the International Space Station.

Instead of metal, the walls of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (or Beam), will be made of floppy cloth that will enable it to be “scrunched like a T-shirt in a suitcase” and then be inflated like a balloon, by a factor of 10 to its full size, once it docks with the space station.

Will it tear? Even if punctured by a high-speed meteorite, Vectran, a bullet-resistant fabric, doesn’t tear.

h/t: NYT

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