Watch: Astronauts Aboard ISS Play on the BEAM

Tuesday, 07 June 2016 - 3:23PM
Tuesday, 07 June 2016 - 3:23PM
Watch: Astronauts Aboard ISS Play on the BEAM
BEAM me up, Scotty! The new Bigelow Expandable Activity Module is ready for action!

After a less-than-successful first attempt at inflating this International Space Station expansion a couple weeks ago, BEAM finally reached its full size last week. Yesterday, at approximately 4:47 AM, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams opened its hatch for the first time. He, along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, bravely ventured into the overgrown bouncy house - not to play, but to collect data.  



Williams took an air sample and downloaded data from the module's sensors, and noted that there was no evidence of condensation. The astronauts then quickly left the BEAM, sealing the hatch behind them. 

BEAM is not destined to be a long-term addition to the ISS, but rather an experiment. BEAM is a prototype of expandable habitats that might help make the journey to Mars a little more feasible. Expandable modules, which are lower-mass and lower-volume systems than metal habitats, can increase the efficiency of cargo shipments, according to NASA. If BEAM performs well, and stands up to the various tests and data collections that it will go through, it could lead to future development of expandable habitation structures for future crews traveling in deep space. Following a two-year test and validation period, BEAM will be robotically jettisoned from the space station, leaving orbit to burn during its descent through Earth's atmosphere.
Science
NASA

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