First of all the inflated modules provide a cheaper option without, according to vigorous ground testing, sacrificing safety. The vectran fabric provides greater resistance to micrometeors then rigid modular walls.
Second, with NASA & the people of the Earth looking spaceward, the ISS figures more into the plan. There is a need to understand more of the effect of time in space on the human body. Also it is important to be able to test these different materials under varying circumstance as there are so many things about space we don’t know and graound testing can only do so much!
NASA’s Deputy Admin, Lori Garver as well as Bigelow Aerospace’s President Robet Bigelow will discuss the BEAM program tomorrow – Wednesday January 16th in Las Vegas. Via a teleconference at 2pm.