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After last week’s depressing and somewhat dismal post, I return to this blog with a more uplifting look at the surprising world of inflatables. Frankly, inflatables are not as much a world as they are a universe, seeing as there is a push to get inflatables up on the moon!
First, the old news about inflatables:
“The idea of inflatable structures has been around since the early 1960s, when NASA commissioned tyre manufacturer Goodyear to build an inflatable space station. It hoped to solve the problem of sending large objects into space by creating a lightweight system that could be flown to the Moon and later inflated. Goodyear’s resulting prototype resembled a large inner tyre big enough to house two people, but owing to insufficient funding and a number of design flaws, the concept never got off the ground.”
Now for the new information from The Engineer about getting space tourists in inflatables. Currently the European Space Agency and National Aeronautics and Space Administration have been working (albeit separately) on devising ways to implement new ways of using inflatables in space.
The main goal right now is to have people living on the moon in inflatable habitats by 2025, making the idea of space tourism more plausible. The habitats could also be utilized as outposts for research mission supplies.
One interesting use for inflatables in space has already been developed by Aero Sekur – a prototype inflatable greenhouse for space agriculture. A launch has been prepped for March 2012 to grow mustard seeds on the moon and see what happens. The company’s reasoning behind developing tools for space agriculture is that the process will be necessary in order to potentially visit and colonize distant planets.
Although it may be a while before we get to live on other planets, at least inflatables have a future in space!