Bigelow Aerospace and NASA look at private exploration

April 22, 2013

A mockup created by Bigelow Aerospace shows a moon base with inflatable modules (credit: Bigelow Aerospace/NBCNews)

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA say they’ve agreed to look at ways for private ventures to contribute to human exploration missions, perhaps including construction of a moon base, but not asteroids and Mars, NBC News Cosmic Log reports.

The Moon ranks high among the targets that Bigelow Aerospace has in mind. The Nevada-based company has been working on moonbase concepts for years, including a lunar base, space stations, or refueling depots placed Lagrange points.

Eventually, Bigelow plans to put a separate commercial space station in orbit, assembled from two even larger inflatable modules.

A key development would be the production of commercial spaceships capable of transporting astronauts to and from the International Space Station, Gold said. NASA has said such spaceships should be flying by 2017.