As well as details about the ESA-Russian Federal Space Agency project Crew Space Transportation System, Thales Alenia Space’s head of systems management and methodologies for the company’s space infrastructure and transportation business unit, Claudio Ferro, also told me about his company’s work on inflatable structures for the European Space Agency (ESA) for space stations – during my visit to Thales’ Cannes facility on Wednesday 16 April

A prototype inflatable module should be completed by Thales later this year

According to Ferro ESA’s work on inflatable modules dates back to the 1990s when NASA had a plan to attach one to the International Space Station’s Node 3. While Node 3 and its cupola viewing port is still expected to go up on a Shuttle mission the inflatable module will not

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Despite the orbiter Columbia disaster ending that plan for the ISS, European work on inflatable habitats has still continued and for the last year Ferro’s colleague’s have been working on regenerative life support systems

While Ferro said he hoped one day such an inflatable module could be attached to the station he admitted that the Shuttle flight that was required isn’t going to be available. So for the time being we’ll have to wait and see what happens with the prototype
While via this story by Leonard David you can find a report by a local US tv station that shows Lockheed Martin apparently testing a one-fifth scale model of a robotic satelite launching reusable spaceplane and here is the video

NASA has started the ball rolling on technology to enable its Altair lunar lander’s upper-stage to use cryogenic propellants and overcome the challenge of boil-off during a 219-day mission. Current Altair concepts’ baseline has storable fuels and oxidisers

NASASpaceflight.com is reporting further schedule pressure, possible delays to Ares I-X from April 2009 to some later point, issues with changes to the mobile launch platform and further technical issues with Ares I crew launch vehicle including what reads to me like problems with the interstage being able to cope with the forces acting on it during ascent

Hobbyspace.com reports on Orbital’s Taurus 2 plans and points to a new document on Space Exporation Technologies’ website that provides booster data

Meanwhile over at Russia’s S P Korolev Space and Reocket Corporation Energia they have been having a bit of a celebration and remembered the “heroes” of the Soviet/Russian space programme

And the end of this month is the closing date for bidders for the European Space Agency’s student lunar lander/rover analog competition