LAS VEGAS (AP) - NASA is partnering with a commercial space company to test an inflatable room that can be compressed into a 7-foot tube.
NASA engineer Glen Miller says that if the space habitat proves durable during two years at the International Space Station, it could help lead to space stations on the moon and missions to Mars.
Officials revealed details of the $17.8 million project during a news conference at Las Vegas-based Bigelow Aerospace on Wednesday.
NASA is expected to install the 10-foot-diameter, blimp-like module by 2015.
If the test is successful, Bigelow plans to begin selling inflatable space stations in 2016 to countries looking to increase their presence in space.
Miller says the new technology expands to provide three times as much room as existing options and is far cheaper.