Following extraction from Dragon, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was installed to the International Space Station at 5:36 a.m. EDT. At the time of installation, the space station was flying over the Southern Pacific Ocean. It will remain attached to station for two-year test period.
NASA is investigating concepts for habitats that can keep astronauts healthy during space exploration. Expandable habitats are one such concept under consideration – they require less payload volume on the rocket than traditional rigid structures, and expand after being deployed in space to provide additional room for astronauts to live and work inside. BEAM will be the first test of such a module attached to the space station. It will allow investigators to gauge how well it performs overall, and how it protects against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.
In late May, BEAM will be filled with air and expanded to its full size. Astronauts will enter BEAM on an occasional basis to conduct tests to validate the module’s overall performance and the capability of expandable habitats. After the testing period is completed, BEAM will be released from the space station to eventually burn up harmlessly in the Earth’s atmosphere.
4 thoughts on “BEAM Successfully Installed to the International Space Station”
NASA has been showing the BEAM attached to the ISS for some time (inappropriate use of artist’s depictions have become rife).
If the BEAM module preforms as expected and all conditions are nominal after the two year test period, why will it be jettisoned for reentry destruction rather than retained as a usable expansion to ISS? Seems wasteful.
NASA is looking at future technology demonstrations that would need to use the port, which is why BEAM is planned to be jettisoned after its mission is complete. No specific project has been assigned to take its place on Tranquility at this time.
After the two years of testing they should keep Beam, assuming positive test results and the port is still available.
They could find another use, like building prototype astronaut cabins inside with lightweight panels and Velcro so it could be optimized and studied in zero gravity with real Astronauts. The results could be applied to future designs of Space stations, Moon and Mars spacecraft. Seems a shame to toss it away after lifting it to orbit, maybe sell it back to Bigelow for his station.