Human Activities in Space
The best-known in-space platform is the International Space Station (ISS), a project led by the United States in conjunction with Russia, Canada, Japan, and several member nations of ESA. The ISS operates in LEO and serves as a research facility and testing laboratory. The station has been crewed by astronauts and cosmonauts from 15 different nations and has been serviced by a variety of spacecraft.
Another type of in-space platform currently under development is Bigelow Aerospace’s Sundancer, an inflatable habitat tentatively scheduled for launch in 2011. Sundancer builds upon the success of the Genesis I and II demonstration modules, launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Sundancer is intended to accommodate experiments and support humans in orbit.
Bigelow Aerospace, an entrepreneurial company, is developing a second type of in-space platform: an inflatable habitat. Essentially a compressed module that expands once deployed in space, the habitat is designed to accommodate experiments and sustain human occupants in the future.
In addition to satellites and spacecraft, a third major facet of in-space activity involves in-space platforms. In-space platforms are facilities or modules constructed or placed in space with the intention of creating a permanent or semi-permanent location and resource base for staging further space activities. The International Space Station is the only operational in-space platform.
An entrepreneurial company, Bigelow Aerospace, is developing an in-space platform based on inflatable technology originally conceived in NASA’s TransHab program. It is building modules that can be used as platforms for in-orbit accommodations, research, and training. Bigelow has launched two prototypes into orbit: Genesis I in July 2006 and Genesis II in June 2007.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). The development of the ISS, led by the United States, “draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: the United States, Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency, and Brazil,” according to NASA.[
A privately financed company based in Las Vegas, Nevada, Bigelow Aerospace is licensing technology from NASA to build an inflatable in-space platform that could enable a number of on-orbit applications. Bigelow’s prototype inflatable platform was launched July 12, 2006, aboard a Russian- and Ukrainian-built Dnepr rocket, launched from Russia’s Yasny Launch Base by International Space Company (ISC) Kosmotras.
The largest in-space platform ever constructed is the International Space Station (ISS). “Led by the United States, the ISS draws upon the scientific and technological resources of 16 nations: Canada, Japan, Russia, 11 nations of the European Space Agency [Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom], and Brazil,” according to NASA.