Space station to get balloon room

NASA is partnering with a commercial space company

in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that now serve as

astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats

that can be deployed on the cheap.

This artist's rendering provided by Bigelow Aerospace shows a Bigelow inflatable space station. NASA is partnering with this commercial space company to test an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery to the International Space Station. NASA is expected to install the module by 2015. (AP Photo/Bigelow Aerospace)
This artist's rendering provided by Bigelow Aerospace shows a Bigelow inflatable space station. NASA is partnering with this commercial space company to test an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery to the International Space Station. NASA is expected to install the module by 2015. (AP Photo/Bigelow Aerospace)
This artist's rendering provided by Bigelow Aerospace shows a Bigelow inflatable space station. NASA is partnering with this commercial space company to test an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube for delivery to the International Space Station. NASA is expected to install the module by 2015. (AP Photo/Bigelow Aerospace)
Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, left, and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver answer questions for the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured here is a one third scale model of the BA 330 module, a different module similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, left, and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver answer questions for the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured here is a one third scale model of the BA 330 module, a different module similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, left, and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver answer questions for the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured here is a one third scale model of the BA 330 module, a different module similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a space complex is on display during a news conference with Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a space complex is on display during a news conference with Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a space complex is on display during a news conference with Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow and NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
NASA deputy administrator, Lori Garver, left, and Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, pose for photos and video in front of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with the BEAM, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
NASA deputy administrator, Lori Garver, left, and Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, pose for photos and video in front of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with the BEAM, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
NASA deputy administrator, Lori Garver, left, and Bigelow Aerospace president Robert Bigelow, pose for photos and video in front of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with the BEAM, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bigelow Aerospace founder and president Robert Bigelow, listens to questions from members of the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. Bigelow spoke about the company's new contract to provide NASA with a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured with Bigelow is a BA 330 module, similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bigelow Aerospace founder and president Robert Bigelow, listens to questions from members of the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. Bigelow spoke about the company's new contract to provide NASA with a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured with Bigelow is a BA 330 module, similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Bigelow Aerospace founder and president Robert Bigelow, listens to questions from members of the media during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. Bigelow spoke about the company's new contract to provide NASA with a habitat module for the International Space Station. Pictured with Bigelow is a BA 330 module, similar in function to what the new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module will be. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a concept space station made with Bigelow Aerospace habitat modules is on display at the company's headquarters during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a concept space station made with Bigelow Aerospace habitat modules is on display at the company's headquarters during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
A model of a concept space station made with Bigelow Aerospace habitat modules is on display at the company's headquarters during a news conference, Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas. NASA has awarded a contact to Bigelow Aerospace to provide NASA with a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, a habitat module for the International Space Station. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Artist’s view of the Bigelow Alpha Station comprised of two BA 330 expandable habitats built by private spaceflight company Bigelow Aerospace.
Alpha Station: Private Inflatable Space Outpost Envisioned
Artist’s view of the Bigelow Alpha Station comprised of two BA 330 expandable habitats built by private spaceflight company Bigelow Aerospace.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is given a tour of the Bigelow Aerospace facilities by the company’s President Robert Bigelow back in Feb. 2011, in Las Vegas. NASA has been discussing potential partnership opportunities with Bigelow for i
Inside NASA's Deal for an Inflatable Space Station Room
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is given a tour of the Bigelow Aerospace facilities by the company’s President Robert Bigelow back in Feb. 2011, in Las Vegas. NASA has been discussing potential partnership opportunities with Bigelow for i

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