first_imgLet us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey. Bigelow Aerospace has formed a new subsidiary to manage and operate space stations in low-Earth orbit.Bigelow Space Operations (BSO) will handle sales, customer service, and operations for the manufacturer’s inflatable habitats.The densely packed modules are designed to launch on a rocket and inflate once in space.A prototype habitat—the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)—in 2016 joined the International Space Station, where it allows astronauts to validate extendible lodging technology.If the module proves successful, similar designs may be used in future Mars missions; inflatable capsules could help reduce the cost of deploying space stations in orbit of Earth or other objects.But first, BSO must consider the global market: Is it even worthwhile to proceed with planned launches of two B330 modules in 2021?“The time is now to quantify in detail the global, national, and corporate commercial space market for orbiting stations,” Bigelow Aerospace said in a press release. “This subject has had ambiguity for many years. BSO will be spending millions of dollars this year to establish concrete answers.”And to find potential customers, like NASA, foreign countries, and other private companies. If Bigelow can’t scrounge up clients (no thanks to competition from global space programs), it may choose to ditch the B330 missions altogether.The firm this week also announced a partnership with CASIS, manager of the U.S. national lab aboard the ISS, to send commercial, academic, and government payloads to the station.“With larger commercial platforms on the horizon, BSO recognizes the importance of gaining experience on the ISS,” the company said.“Through this experience, BSO leadership hopes to gain a better knowledge of current and future customer needs on orbit as they pertain to larger-scale operations that are both science- and non-science-related that cannot be handled by the ISS.”The investigation should be complete by December, The Verge reported; the business will announce its results—good, bad, or ugly—at the end of the year. Stay on targetcenter_img NASA Says 2 Asteroids Will Safely Fly By Earth This WeekendHubble Captures Saturn’s ‘Phonograph Record’ Ring System last_img