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NASA planning to launch inflatable addition to the ISS

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International Space Station
International Space Station

NASA is getting ready to pump some money into the International Space Station — the agency just awarded a $17.8 million contract to Bigelow Aerospace to provide an "expandable activity module" that will serve as a demonstration of the benefits of Bigelow's particular space habitats. Bigelow has been working on developing these inflatable crafts for over a decade and launched two prototypes, the Genesis I and Genesis II, back in 2006 and 2007. As for how NASA will use the technology, the agency called its new partnership "a step forward in cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably, and heralds important progress in U.S. commercial space innovation." Specific details remain minimal for now — there's no word on when this new module will launch or dock with the ISS — but NASA will be holding a press event on the 16th to discuss the deal and forthcoming program.