LAS VEGAS(FOX5) -- Bigelow Aerospace is one of four in the running to join NASA's latest program, the Gateway Program.
"So the path through Mars as we've been told by senior NASA officials is through the moon," Bigelow Aerospace founder and president Robert Bigelow said. "The rule is this: The further you are away from home, the more people you need to have as backups, the more supplies you need to have."
Bigelow has built an expandable module to transport all of that into space.
"Potentially, we think for the rest of the century expandable architecture is where it's at, not in the aluminum cans," Bigelow said.
The B330 is three times larger than the current module attached to the International Space Station.
"The life support systems can accommodate four people, indefinitely," Bigelow said. "Five people for many months, six people for maybe eight weeks."
It has a hydroponic garden, enough space to quarantine someone and the privacy you'd find in a home on Earth.
"Toilets are kind of important so we have double toilets, double galleys, it's very unusual for any module to have that," Bigelow said.
Astronauts and NASA's team were in town testing out the new technology.
"These people have the experience, they've actually flown, so it matters what their opinion is," Bigelow said.
Their suggestions so far include more Velcro to keep items from floating away and more handles to help astronauts get around.
Bigelow hopes these tests on the ground will launch them ahead in the space race.
"Mars is a very dangerous place to go, so is the moon," Bigelow said. " You need to acclimate yourself and all of your hardware and systems so you have extremely high confidence and anything in that kind of environment closer to home. Once you're away from mama and close to Mars, you're in trouble if you don't have a lot of backups."
No word when NASA will make its choice. Bigelow said it's always working behind the scenes. It could have a B330 ready to go in 42 months.
Bigelow said it can't reveal the price of the B330, but said the whole thing is funded with their own money.
Olympus is just a concept. The space station will have four levels and enough room for three dozen people, research facilities and 12 ecosystems that could include a farm.
Bigelow already has a smaller version of its expandable system in space. It's called the Beam and is mainly used as storage for astronauts.