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Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room
Posted: Jan 16, 2013 4:54 PM CST Updated: Jan 16, 2013 4:54 PM CST
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) - NASA is partnering with a commercial space company in a bid to replace the cumbersome "metal cans" that serve as astronauts' homes in space with inflatable bounce-house-like habitats that can be deployed on the cheap.

A $17.8 million test project will send an inflatable room that can be compressed for delivery into a 7-foot tube to the International Space Station, officials said Wednesday during a news conference at North Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace.

If the module proves durable during two years at the space station, it could help lead to habitats on the moon and missions to Mars, NASA engineer Glen Miller said.

The agency chose Bigelow for the contract because it was the only company working on the inflatable technology, said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver.

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