Floating space hotels took a giant leap towards reality on Saturday when the first inflatable pod was attached to the International Space Station (ISS).

Bigelow Aerospace and Nasa sent up an expanding space habitat on board a SpaceX rocket last week.

On Saturday mission controllers at Houston used a robotic arm to attach the pod to the Tranquilly module on the ISS, where it will remain for two years, undergoing tests to make sure it is safe and can stand up to widely fluctuating temperatures, cosmic radiation and space debris.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) test marks the first step towards a future where large numbers of the inflatable pods could be joined together to form large habitations or astro-hotels for tourists in deep space. They could even be the structures which create the first Moon or Mars colonies.

The pods where developed by Bigelow Aerospace, which was founded in 1999 by American property billionaire Robert Bigelow.

Source: Space hotels close as inflatable pod joined to International Space Station