Nasa astronauts to test inflatable space station

  • 17 January 2013
Artist's impression of inflatable space station

An inflatable floating home for astronauts in orbit is to be tested on the International Space Station.

Nasa hopes the balloon-like capsules will be a low-cost way of providing somewhere to live in space.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) can be squeezed into a tube and easily sent into space where it can be inflated.

They also have more room than the traditional aluminium modules that astronauts currently live in.

The first capsule is due to launch in 2015.

Image caption Scale model of inside the inflatable space station

It'll be tested over a two-year period to see how it copes with things like radiation and temperature changes.

Nasa has teamed up with private company Bigelow Aerospace to build the module.

It's hoped this new technology will enable astronauts to spend longer in space as we look to explore faraway places like Mars.