Bigelow Aerospace Sues NASA

Bigelow B330 module. (Credit: Douglas Messier)

Bigelow Aerospace has sued NASA for alleged breach of contract over testing the North Las Vegas company conducted on its B330 space station module prototype.

Bigelow is demanding just over $1 million in unpaid contract fees and attorney costs. At issue is a contract under which Bigelow would complete long-term pressure leak tests on the B330 module.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:

According to the lawsuit, Bigelow Aerospace was required to perform a leak test on its module and “provide certain periodic test reports” to NASA. The reports were scheduled and were required to summarize the results of the test, specifically whether the B330 had met certain standards set by NASA.

Bigelow Aerospace said NASA breached its contract with the agency by refusing to pay the full amount to the company.

According to the suit, multiple attempts were made between January and February to demand payment. The lawsuit said that NASA’s attorney requested raw test data from Bigelow’s testing carried out under the contract as a prerequisite of being paid the amount owed.

“However, this requirement was not a term of the Contract, and was an attempt by NASA to place additional requirements on Bigelow Aerospace that had not been part of the parties’ agreement,” according to the lawsuit.

Hotel magnate Robert Bigelow owns the Nevada-based company, which builds inflatable space habitats. The experimental Bigelow Expandable Aerospace Module (BEAM) was attached to the International Space Station in 2016 as a test of the technology. It is significantly smaller than the B330.

An expandable habitat, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), during testing on the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA)

Bigelow Aerospace laid off all of its employees a year ago. The company said the move was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that it had plans to rehire people once the pandemic eased. It is not known whether anyone has been hired back.