Space Agency NASA is all ready to install the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), first human rated expandable structure on ISS (International Space Station) today. The module will help astronauts to set up the design of deep space habitats. These expandable habitats are designed to take up less room on a rocket but they provide greater volume for living and working in space, once expanded.
The module will be attached to the station’s Tranquility module over a period of about four hours. Controller in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will remove beam from the unpressurized trunk of SpaceX’s dragon spacecraft. This will be done using the Canadarm2 to move it into position next to tranquility’s aft assembly port.
NASA is conducting this kind of test for the first time and it will help the investigators to gauge how well the habitat performs overall and how well it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of the space. NASA will be telecasting the coverage of the installation first expandable habitats which will begin at 5.30 am EDT today.
BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. Once this test period is over, BEAM will be released from the space station and will burn up during its descent through Earth’s atmosphere.
NASA astronauts aboard the station will secure BEAM using common berthing mechanism controls. BEAM was launched aboard Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 8. By the end of the May, the module will be expanded to nearly five times its compressed size of 7 feet in diameter by 8 feet in length to roughly 10 feet in diameter and 13 feet in length.
Astronauts are planning to first enter the habitat about a week after expansion and during a two year test mission, it will return to the module for a few hours several times a year to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions. This project BEAM is now co-sponsored by NASA’s advanced exploration systems division and Bigelow Aerospace.
ISS is the world’s leading laboratory for conducting cutting edge micro-gravity research and is the primary platform for technology development and testing in space to enable human and robotic explorations of the destinations.