Beware Vermicious Knids: A US billionaire wants to launch an inflatable space hotel into lunar orbit by 2022

 
Emma Haslett
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The expandable pod will be used for "visiting, living and working off-planet" (Source: Facebook / Bigelow Aerospace)

Roald Dahl might have warned of the dangers of space hotels, but that hasn't put off billionaire entrepreneur Robert Bigelow, who has said he will put an inflatable "habitat" into space by the end of 2022.

Hotel entrepreneur Bigelow's eponymous space company, Bigelow Aerospace, announced a partnership with rocket maker United Launch Alliance to launch one of its expandable B330 modules into low lunar orbit in the next five years.

Bigelow owns the rights to the technology, which was originally developed by Nasa in the 1990s but abandoned.

The technology is similar to reinforced tyres, and allows the soft-shelled pod to expand widthways, which Bigelow says offers better protection against radiation and debris to those inside than the International Space Station (ISS).

Once the module is in place, it will be used for "visiting, living and working off our planet", said Tony Bruno, the president and chief executive of ULA. The pair have dubbed their plan "Lunar. Sooner.".

Read more: Elon Musk reckons he can help humans reach Mars and the moon by 2024

There is only one slight catch: money. The Washington Post has suggested the project will cost $2.3bn in total.

Although Bigelow tweeted this week capital "has been flowing", he added additional finance may have to come from "Nasa and this country". The ball is in Donald Trump's court now...

Read more: Here's what the UK must do to enable the next generation of astronauts

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