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May 29, 2016
Expanding Technology Aboard the ISS
Pressurization of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) began Saturday May 28 at 4:34 p.m. EDT, and the eight tanks filled with air completed full pressurization of the module 10 minutes later at 4:44 p.m. BEAM’s pressure will be equalized with that of the International Space Station, where it will remain attached for a two-year test period.
The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.
Image above: The space station now hosts the new fully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the Tranquility module. Image Credit: NASA.
During the next week, leak checks will be performed on BEAM to ensure its structural integrity. Hatch opening and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ first entrance into BEAM will take place about a week after leak checks are complete.
BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.
Image above: The BEAM expansion took several hours today as astronaut Jeff Williams sent two dozen pulses of air into the expandable module. Image Credit: NASA TV.
Expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a spacecraft but provide greater volume for living and working in space once expanded. This first test of an expandable module will allow investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs and specifically, how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.
For more information about BEAM, visit: http://bigelowaerospace.com/beam/
For more information about the International Space Station, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html
Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: NASA/NASA TV/Mark Garcia.
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