Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room

Bigelow Aerospace

Standing beside scale models of research stations on Mars and the moon, Miller said the project will encourage commercial ventures to follow the path NASA blazes into space.

He added that it could also help achieve the holy grail of space exploration: missions that send astronauts out of orbit for more than a year.

"The only way to do that is to expand it out and voila you have living space for three people to go to Mars,'' he said. "You can get three times the volume of a metallic can, and you can go up in the same ferry.''

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