Station Gets Ready for BEAM as Crew Researches Life Science

Dragon and Cygnus
The SpaceX Dragon approaches the International Space Station. The round solar array of the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft is in the left foreground.

The International Space Station will get a new module Saturday when the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is removed from the SpaceX Dragon and installed on the Tranquility module. BEAM will be attached to the station for two years of tests before expandable modules become a permanent feature of future spacecraft.

NASA and its international partners are using the station as an orbital laboratory to learn how the human body adapts to living and working in space. The wide variety of human research taking place on orbit today looked at work performance, vision, heart function, bones and muscles.

British astronaut Tim Peake explored how astronauts perform detailed, interactive tasks using a touchscreen tablet for the Fine Motor Skills experiment. He also joined Commander Tim Kopra for eye checks as scientists study how the lack of gravity affects vision. NASA astronaut Jeff Williams scanned his legs with an ultrasound device for the Sprint exercise study and helped search for gravity sensors in cells to prevent muscle atrophy in space.

Cosmonauts Alexey Ovchinin and Oleg Skripochka researched heart function so doctors can understand how the cardiovascular system adapts during different phases of a spaceflight. Veteran cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko performed maintenance throughout the orbital lab’s Russian segment. He swapped out GoPro batteries and photographed the condition Zvezda service module panels.

4 thoughts on “Station Gets Ready for BEAM as Crew Researches Life Science”

  1. does the weightlessness of space have any affects on joint movement, I know its difficult to move arms and legs a space suit, but what about on the space station?

  2. Is the muscle atrophy from being in space fully reversible? Are there any lasting issues back on Earth? Thank you for the article.

    1. In our experience, muscle atrophy in space is fully reversible thanks to support from astronaut reconditioning experts. Our astronauts are very healthy people, and must stay healthy and fit for spaceflight. While in space, astronauts exercise about two hours each day to mitigate bone loss, muscle atrophy, and cardiovascular deconditioning.

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