- NASA will host a media teleconference at noon EDT Friday, May 27 to provide an update on the expansion operations for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) installed on the International Space Station. The teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.
NASA and Bigelow Aerospace engineers are evaluating why, during its first two-hour attempt Thursday, the BEAM did not fully expand as internal pressure was gradually increased. They will monitor the module for structural changes that could result in either larger volume or lower internal pressure, as they assess next steps for expansion.
The BEAM is a technology demonstration to study expandable habitats in space. It was launched April 8 to the orbiting laboratory aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and was installed April 16.
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. The module is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space.
The International Space Station serves as the world’s leading laboratory for conducting cutting-edge microgravity research, and is the primary platform for technology development and testing in space to enable human and robotic exploration of destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including asteroids and Mars.