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ISS Is About To Get This Weird Sounding Expansion

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BEAMInflatable rooms aren’t just for carnivals and massive house parties anymore. The ISS is about to get one as an addition to its existing digs. BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) will be the first privately designed and built room or habitat to be used in space when it launches next year, appropriately hitching a ride with one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets.

The habitat was conceived and constructed by Bigelow Aerospace, which won the $17.8 million contract last year. While private companies have taken over the space shuttle industry, this is the first such foray into habitat or room building for crewed systems. This is also a potentially important shift when it comes to the materials used to build space habitats, as an inflatable design would save lots of room.

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NASA Program Aims To Put Commercial Landers On The Moon, Stirs Property Rights Debate

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moon miningNASA recently announced a new initiative called Lunar CATALYST (Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown) and is seeking proposals to join forces with commercial companies who can develop and deliver robotic lunar landers. The way the partnership works is that participants have free access to NASA scientists, equipment, laboratories, software, and research in exchange for giving NASA the rights to any lander designed during the partnership. While the initiative reflects the growing collaboration between the private and public sectors, some believe that the program penalizes foreign teams and may give rise to property rights disputes when it comes to who owns or regulates what happens on the moon.