Lunar outpost in 5 years? 2 companies unveil plans

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 17, 2017, 1:00 PM EDT

A pair of aerospace companies are aiming to deploy a lunar outpost orbiting the moon in five years.

  • Aerospace companies plan to put module in lunar orbit by 2022
  • Bigelow Aerospace manufactures B330 expandable module
  • Expandable module can serve as commercial space station

The outpost would be a B330 expandable module like the one deployed on the International Space Station last year, according to Bigelow Aerospace and United Launch Alliance, the companies who will manufacture and launch the module.

The plan is to launch the B330 module into low lunar orbit by the end of 2022 to serve as a lunar depot in support of returning to the moon, Bigelow said in a news release. The depot would serve commercial interests "in addition to offering NASA and other governments the Moon as a new exciting location to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training," company president Robert Bigelow said.

The company envisions the lunar outpost as a place to conduct long-term exploration and astronaut training.

The B330 expandable module would launch on a ULA Vulcan 562 rocket. Once it's in orbit, Bigelow would equip the outpost, it said.