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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Exclusive: How Bigelow Convinced NASA to Build an Inflatable Add-on to the Space Station

Robert Bigelow spent decades amassing the fortune he needed to start his own space company, a dream he had since he was a boy growing up in Las Vegas in the 1950s. At the turn of the millennium, with cash from his real estate empire and hotel chain, he went shopping for the technology he needed to expand off-planet.

He cast his eye on a cancelled NASA program for expandable space habitats called TransHab. The idea was to launch a compactly folded structure made of high strength but flexible materials such as Kevlar. Once it was in space, the structure would expand to full volume using air from the life-support system, providing more living space than any preassembled room you could launch. NASA cancelled the program after building prototypes, but those units proved the concept worked. 

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