There's a new object orbiting Earth that could be the first step in the construction of an inhabitable complex in space. Genesis I, built by Bigelow Aerospace of Las Vegas, was successfully launched into orbit by a converted Russian ICBM on Wednesday. This inflatable 14-foot demonstration craft is the first launch toward the company's overall mission--to build an affordable human space complex that is accessible to the commercial sector by 2015.
Left is one of the first images returned by Genesis I, showing the inflated craft and a solar array. Note the Earth's curviture in the background. Photos number 3 and 13 are also of Genesis I in orbit.