Bigelow Aerospace opened up its ground-based prototype for a space station module — or perhaps even a Mars transport habitat — for inspection today at its headquarters in North Las Vegas.
The open house centered on the Mars Transporter Testing Unit, an all-steel mockup of the company’s expandable, fabric-covered B330 space module. For two weeks, a NASA-Bigelow team will be testing the suitability of the B330 concept for crewed deep-space missions.
Bigelow’s prototype is one of six ground-based demonstration projects funded as part of NASA’s NextSTEP-2 program. The other companies building full-sized NextSTEP-2 prototypes for space habitats include Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Sierra Nevada Corp. and Nanoracks.