A couple days ago, an article on NASASpaceFlight described an architecture of vehicles Bigelow Aerospace allegedly presented to NASA. Bigelow is a company developing inflatable space habitats – they’ve launched a few technology demonstrators already, and an inflatable module is set to go up to the International Space Station in the near future. Apparently, they presented a series of modular, inflatable habitats along with a set of space-based utility “tug” vehicles designed to carry out various support functions.
I like this general idea – it fits in with my own vision for a successful space exploration architecture. Specifically, rather than a multipurpose vehicle that must shuttle up and down from Earth’s surface, I want to see a set of many vehicles highly specialized for space exploration purposes. Those vehicles should be native to the space environment – designed never to enter the Earth’s atmosphere. They might even be built in space in the first place.
It would be really terrific to see a company ready to provide that space exploration fleet.