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Bigelow BEAM Still Useful On ISS

The BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) sent up to the international space station in 2015 is still doing its job. (See Bigelow's Inflatable BEAM Module Ready For ISS In 2015.)

Maybe someday we'll skip the space station and just go for the expandable bubbles. That's Golden Age author Raymond Z. Gallun's strategy in his dashing and expansive (!) 1961 story The Planet Strappers:

The crinkly mass was one of the Bunch's major projects—their first space bubble, or bubb which they had been cutting and shaping with more care and devotion than skill...

Nelsen didn't listen anymore. His and Paul's attention had wandered to the largest color photo thumbtacked to the wall, above the TV set, and the shelf of dog-eared technical books. It showed a fragile, pearly ring, almost diaphanous, hanging tilted against spatial blackness and pinpoint stars. Its hub was a cylindrical spindle, with radial guys of fine, stainless steel wire. It was like the earliest ideas about a space station, yet it was also different. To many—Frank Nelsen and Paul Hendricks certainly included—such devices had as much beauty as a yacht under full sail had ever had for anybody.

Old Paul smirked with pleasure. "It's a shame, ain't it, Frank—calling a pretty thing like that a 'bubb'—it's an ugly word. Or even a 'space bubble.' Technical talk gets kind of cheap."

"I don't mind," Frank Nelsen answered. "Our first one, here, could look just as nice—inflated, and riding free against the stars."

He touched the crinkly material, draped across its wooden support.

(Read more about space bubbles)

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