United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Bigelow Aerospace will collaborate to place a space station in orbit around the moon by 2023, the companies announced in a joint statement today (Oct. 17). The collaboration comes as the U.S. government has grown increasingly interested in returning to the moon.
ULA is itself a joint venture between the established aerospace companies Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
ULA boasts three families of rockets — Atlas V, Delta II and Delta IV — which have launched a combined total of more than 1,300 missions, according to the company's website.
Bigelow Aerospace made headlines in May 2016 when astronauts attached and activated the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) to the International Space Station. The company's expandable habitats are lighter than traditional, rigid ones and collapse to fit more living space into a given rocket. [Bigelow Aerospace's Inflatable Space Stations (Infographic)]