The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Bigelow Aerospace on 28 May 2016 successfully deployed the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) on the International Space Station. It is the first experimental inflatable room attached to the space station.
Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)
• It is an expandable habitat technology demonstration for the International Space Station.
• Expandable habitats greatly decrease the amount of transport volume for future space missions.
• These expandables are lightweight and require minimal payload volume on a rocket, but expand after being deployed in space to potentially provide a comfortable area for astronauts to live and work.
• They also provide a varying degree of protection from solar and cosmic radiation, space debris, atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and other elements of the space environment.
• BEAM is scheduled to launch on the eighth SpaceX Commercial Resupply Service mission.
• After being attached to the Tranquility Node using the station’s robotic Canadarm2, it will be filled with air to expand it for a two-year test period in which astronauts aboard the space station will conduct a series of tests to validate overall performance and capability of expandable habitats.
• After 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 much like many cargo spacecraft do.
• It could lead to future development of expandable habitation structures for future crews traveling in deep space.
• The BEAM project is co-sponsored by NASA's Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Division and Bigelow Aerospace.
• It pioneers innovative approaches to rapidly and affordably develop prototype systems for future human exploration missions.
• The BEAM demonstration supports an AES objective to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.
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