NASA To Expand "BEAM" The First Inflatable Habitat Docked on the ISS
Last April, NASA and Bigelow Aerospace sent the first $18 million worth inflatable habitation capsule in space. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) docked into the International Space Station (ISS) and will serve as an additional living and work space for the crew aboard the ISS. This May 26, NASA is ready to inflate the balloon-like module. The milestone will be streamed live so that the world can witness the monumental event.
Bigelow Aerospace developed BEAM, a '5.7 feet long and 7.75 feet in diameter' module as part of their mission to build inflatable homes in space. The inflatable module can change the aerospace industry because it can easily be transported due to its lighter weight. This way, the load of rockets delivering goods to the ISS is lessened. The module was folded when it was delivered by the reusable rocket re-supply spacecraft by SpaceX according to a report by Engadget.
NASA is set to expand the inflatable module in a moderate, calculated speed on May 26 according to a report by Wired. This technology is one of NASA's pioneering projects which may enable new habitat forms in space, including to their journey to Mars. "Engineers and scientists around the country are developing the technologies astronauts will use to one day live and work on Mars, and safely return home," said NASA in an official statement.
The module is equipped with sensors and the crew will access the module several times every day to collect data. The maker of BEAM, which is Bigelow Aerospace, is planning to build bigger inflatable modules for space use.
Astronauts aboard the ISS will be using the module starting June 2. Scientists and engineers will monitor how the balloon-like structure of BEAM can survive the environment in space.
To watch the inflation as it happens, viewers are advised to visit NASA TV and NASA's official Facebook page on May 26.