The 3,000-pound balloon-like structure, which will be flown as part of a Space Exploration Technologies' (SpaceX) cargo run, will be attached to a space station connecting node and inflated with pressurized air to become a rigid, cylinder-shaped habitat about the size of a small bedroom.
"It will be the first expandable habitat module ever constructed for human occupancy," Bigelow Aerospace operations director Mike Gold told Discovery News.
BIG PIC: Space Station Spies a Dragon Flying Below
No word yet on what the station's six crewmembers will do with their new dwelling, but Bigelow wants to collect information about how the inflatable, which is made of a Kevlar-like material, fares with humans aboard.
The company plans to build, operate and staff larger free-flying orbital outposts and lease space aboard them to research organizations, companies and even wealthy aspiring space tourists. It has preliminary agreements with agencies in seven countries, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Japan, Sweden and the United Arab Emirate of Dubai.