This is an important first step that informs us what the problems will be in terms of protection from the external environment. I have long posted that we need to build huge bubbles by beginning with a simple inflatable skin. This alone allows safe zero gravity construction.
Then with simple expedients such as spray on foams, a serious solid structure can be built. What makes this really exciting is that building out to a scales of miles becomes possible including multiple layers all supported by suspension cables. around a central hub.
Again this is a necessary first step
Private Inflatable Room Launching to Space Station Next Year
Elizabeth Howell, Space.com Contributor | October 06, 2014
TORONTO — A privately built inflatable room for astronauts on the International Space Station is on track to launch into orbit next year.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is expected to head to space inside SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft in 2015, according to a senior representative for the Bigelow Aerospace, which is building the module. Once BEAM gets to the space station, the robotic Canadarm2 will install it on the Tranquility node's aft port to test out expandable-habitat technology.
NASA is paying Nevada-based Bigelow $17.8 million to send the demonstration module to the station, where it will be in place for at least a couple of years. Here at the International Astronautical Congress Thursday (Oct. 2), Bigelow representative Mike Gold said BEAM provides an example of what the company, and private firms in general, can do in low-Earth orbit (LEO). [Photos: Bigelow's Inflatable Space Station Idea]
"Maybe it's difficult to see at this point, but we go back to telecom — there was a time when every communications satellite was owned by the government," he added, noting that today, private are now responsible for this space domain and that it touches every aspect of people's lives, such as cellphones. "This will happen when it comes to crew operations."