Private Space Station

NORTH LAS VEGAS, Nev. — At the Bigelow Aerospace factory here, the full-size space station
mockups sitting on the warehouse floor look somewhat like puffy white watermelons. The
interiors offer a hint of what spacious living in space might look like.

INFLATABLE NASA’s Echo satellite was basically a Mylar balloon. Bigelow’s design uses
aluminized and foam skins. More Photos »

“Every astronaut we have come in here just says, ‘Wow,’ ” said Robert T. Bigelow, the company
founder. “They can’t believe the size of this thing.”

Four years from now, the company plans for real modules to be launched and assembled into
the solar system’s first private space station. Paying customers — primarily nations that do not
have the money or expertise to build a space program from scratch — would arrive a year later.