In June 2009, Roscosmos informed the United States of its intention to develop an orbital research facility by the time the ISS is retired. This complex would be known as the Orbital Piloted Assembly and Experiment Complex (OPSEK). The Russian Multipurpose Laboratory Module and Node Module are expected to dock with the ISS in 2012, but whenever the decommissioning of the ISS occurs, Roscosmos intends to detach those modules to use as the basis for OPSEK.
Bigelow Aerospace has been working for several years to develop commercial orbital habitats using expandable modules. This approach, leveraging technology licensed from NASA, involves launching modules in a compact form and inflating them once in orbit, creating much larger volumes than would be possible with traditional metallic structures.
Another type of in-space platform currently under development is Bigelow Aerospace’s Sundancer, an inflatable habitat tentatively scheduled for launch in 2011. Sundancer builds upon the success of the Genesis I and II demonstration modules, launched in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Sundancer is intended to accommodate experiments and support humans in orbit.