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BEAM Expansion, First Expandable Module in Space, Postponed; Engineers Citing Problems with Inflation

May 27, 2016 06:03 AM EDT
NASA And Bigelow Aerospace Announce Addition To International Space Station
The scheduled inflation of the first expandable module docked on the ISS was postponed yesterday when the module stopped swelling despite the application of calculated pressure curb. NASA and the maker, Bigelow Aerospace, are yet to decide when will the inflation process take place.
(Photo : Bill Ingalls/NASA via Getty Images)

NASA and BEAM maker, Bigelow Aerospace, had been working on the expandable module for a long time. When it was finally time to inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the engineers decided to postpone the procedure when the module stopped inflating despite the release of calculated pressure curb.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is considered by NASA as the 'future space habitats for low-Earth orbit, the moon, and Mars'. The BEAM docked to the ISS is roughly 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter.

The world was watching early May 26 on live TV when NASA announced that they had decided to defer the inflation.

"We are going to stop the deployment operations for today as the engineering analysis team on the ground are not seeing the expansion expected along with the pressure curb, the operation is called off," said NASA in a feed on NASA TV.

NASA decided to halt the expansion process, which started at 6:10 am on Thursday morning, after the module failed to swell despite consistent pressure said CNN in a report.

But NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are positive that it can easily be dealt with saying they might continue the inflation process as early as today. Their engineers will converge at the Johnson Space Center to address the roadblock experienced by the BEAM inflation team.

BEAM is the first expandable module sent to space. It is considered as a pioneering project because it can potentially double the living space on the ISS by also enabling a lighter transport of its deflated state, which can easily be carried by resupply rockets. Once the first module is successfully inflated, it will pave the way for more expandable modules created for space living.

Also because of NASA's 2030 mission to Mars, the agency is developing various technologies to enable crew and astronauts to survive longer in deep space. NASA considers the expandable modules potential living quarters for the journey to Mars.


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