Could This Inflatable Habitat Be the Future of Space Tourism? Bigelow Aerospace's space habitat is set to be delivered to the ISS next week.

By Nina Zipkin

entrepreneur daily
Bigelow Aerospace | Facebook

What would mainstream space tourism actually look like?

While companies such as Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic and Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin are at work developing ships that could take paying customers up into space within the next couple of years, where will people stay once they're actually up there? A prototype for an inflatable space hotel set to make its way to the International Space Station next week could provide the answer.

Related: Jeff Bezos's Space Company Aims for Passenger Flights in 2018

On April 8, SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket-powered Dragon spacecraft will launch from Cape Canaveral to deliver the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, along with food and supplies, to the ISS.

Built by the Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace, BEAM is a smaller, experimental version of the B330, which the firm describes as "the first private space habitat." It looks like a giant white balloon that wouldn't be out of place at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Related: NASA Turns to Small Businesses for Advances in Space Travel

Once it arrives for its two-year testing period, BEAM will be attached to the space station and inflated to its full size -- 14,000 kilograms with a length of 4.01 meters and diameter of 3.23 meters. The astronauts will regularly monitor BEAM to see how it stands up to threats such as radiation and debris from meteoroids.

So while it's not quite space's answer to the Plaza just yet, what the astronauts learn may just lay the groundwork for vacations on Mars.

Nina Zipkin

Entrepreneur Staff

Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture.

Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics

Business Solutions

Stay Organized with This Task Management Tool, on Sale for $30

A Study Planr Pro subscription is just $30 for life.

Data & Recovery

Get 2TB of Cloud Storage with PhotoSphere for Just $280 for a Limited Time

Easily store and access photos, videos, and other files spread across your work devices.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business News

Here Are 3 Strategies Startup Founders Can Use to Approach High-Impact Disputes

The $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup Klarna recently faced a public board spat. Here are three strategies to approach conflict within a business.

Business News

'This Can't Be True': Google Responds to Viral Hoax Claiming the Company Is Shutting Down Gmail

The fake news release started making its way around X on Thursday.