The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was installed to the International Space Station on April 16, 2016 using the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are continuing to evaluate why the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) did not fully expand today as planned and will not attempt to complete the module’s expansion on Friday. Engineering teams will monitor the module overnight for structural changes that could result in either larger volume or lower internal pressure before meeting on Friday morning to discuss options moving forward. Ground teams will look for any changes in the module’s shape following the conclusion of Thursday’s operations and the station crew will take additional pressure readings. Crew members aboard the International Space Station are safe, and both BEAM and the space station are in a stable configuration.
During about two hours of expansion, BEAM’s length and diameter did not increase as expected with the increased internal pressure, and teams decided to stand down from operations for the day.
The unexpanded BEAM is seen attached to the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA TV
NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are working closely to understand why the module did not fully expand today as planned. Engineers are meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss a path forward for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). They are evaluating data from the expansion that has occurred thus far. If the data supports a resumption of operations, another attempt to complete the module’s expansion could come as early as tomorrow.
With the team focused on analyzing BEAM’s status, a previously scheduled teleconference for Thursday, May 26 at 10 a.m. EDT has been postponed until we have more information available to share. NASA will send an updated media advisory when the next step for BEAM operations is decided upon.
BEAM is a technology demonstration from which we will learn more about how these types of habitats will perform in a microgravity environment.
BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.
The unexpanded BEAM is seen attached to the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA TV
Efforts to expand the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) were terminated for the day after several hours of attempts to introduce air into the module. Flight controllers informed NASA astronaut Jeff Williams that BEAM had only expanded a few inches in both length and diameter at the time the operation ceased for the day. Engineers are meeting to determine a forward course of action, with the possibility that another attempt could be made as early as Friday morning.
Teams on the ground are assessing data from the initial introduction of air into the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). Operations will resume shortly. NASA Television coverage from Mission Control Center in Houston continues.
This dual view of BEAM shows the expanded external (left) and internal configurations. Credit: Bigelow Aerospace
The final preparations are under way for Thursday morning’s expansion of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) from the Tranquility module. Back on Earth, a veteran cosmonaut and a pair of first time space flyers are getting ready for their mission in June.
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams performed leak checks and installed hardware to monitor and support BEAM expansion set to begin Thursday at 6:10 a.m. EDT (10:10 a.m. UTC). The expansion could potentially start earlier. NASA Television will broadcast the expansion activities live beginning at 5:30 a.m. Crew entry into BEAM, which has an expanded habitable volume of 565 cubic feet (16 cubic meters), is planned for June 2.
A new trio of International Space Station crew members is in Russia ready for final qualification exams for a mission set for launch June 24. Cosmonaut Anatoly Ivanishin will command the new Soyuz MS-01 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi. The Expedition 48-49 crew members are scheduled for a four-month stay aboard the orbital lab.
The crew orbiting in space now explored working with detailed tasks and interacting with touch-based computer screens for the Fine Motor Skills study. They continued stowing gear after completing the Rodent Research-3 bone and muscle atrophy experiment. Other experiments today looked at Earth photography techniques, interactions between space crews and teams on the ground as well as more eye checks.
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams took this majestic image of “Islands in the Sky” on Mar. 3, 2016 as dusk fell over the oceans.
SpaceX and NASA managers are targeting July 16 for the launch of the ninth Dragon commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Meanwhile, U.S. and Russian spaceships are being packed for upcoming departures in June and July from the orbital lab.
The crew also began preparing the vestibule space between BEAM – the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module – and the rest of the station for Thursday’s expansion activities, by pressurizing the area and performing leak checks.
Dragon will lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida carrying supplies, science gear and one of two international docking adapters. The adapters will allow future commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX to dock. The first adapter will be attached to the station’s Harmony module in August by a pair of spacewalkers.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus private space freighter is due to be the next spaceship to leave the station when it is released June 14. Expedition 47 will end four days later when Yuri Malenchenko, Tim Kopra and Tim Peake undock and return to Earth inside the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft.
Back inside the station, a pair of crew members participated in blood pressure and vision checks for the Ocular Health study. Another astronaut conducted ultrasound scans today helping scientists explore the likelihood of clogged arteries, or atherosclerosis, occurring on long-term space missions.
BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is highlighted in its expanded configuration in this computer rendering.
The Expedition 47 crew is getting a new module recently attached to the Tranquility module ready for expansion later this week. The International Space Station residents are also running experiments today exploring a wide variety of phenomena and checking station gear.
BEAM, or the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is scheduled to expand to full pressurized volume Thursday morning. In preparation, the crew is installing computer cables, checking connections and verifying hardware prior to BEAM deployment. NASA TV will televise the BEAM expansion activities live. Crew entry into the new module is scheduled for next week but will not be televised.
The Rodent Research-3 (RR-3) experiment was completed last week and the astronauts are cleaning up and inventorying the gear today. During the wrap up work, the crew also collected station air and astronaut breath samples for the Marrow bone study sponsored by the Canadian Space Agency.
Some of the station hardware that helps run and monitor equipment and experiments is getting new gear and upgrades. The Microgravity Science Glovebox, which housed the RR-3 activities last week, is being prepared for video equipment upgrades. A new laptop computer is being loaded with software to demonstrate control of station assets from both the orbital lab and the ground.
CubeSats fly free after leaving the NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer on the International Space Station earlier in the week.
The crew was back at work today with more life science studies and human research. Cygnus cargo transfer work is ongoing as robotics controllers prepare for an external video survey.
Mice continue to be observed today for the Rodent Research-3 study. The astronauts are measuring their bone density to learn how microgravity affects muscles and bones and potentially helping crews in space and citizens on Earth stay healthier.
Astronaut Jeff Williams scanned his leg with an ultrasound today for the long-running Sprint study. The research is exploring new space exercise techniques that may minimize muscle and bone loss on long duration missions. The cosmonauts were collecting blood and saliva samples for analysis as they explore how living in space affects the human body.
Cargo transfers are over half way complete as the Cygnus commercial space freighter targets a mid-June departure from the Unity module. The Canadarm2 robotic arm will link up with the DEXTRE robotic hand tonight. Robotics controllers will then conduct a video scan of the external RapidScat system that monitors weather patterns on the Earth’s oceans.
A pair of Cubesats is seen moments after being released from a small satellite deployer on the outside of the Kibo experiment module.
The final set of Cubesats was ejected from the International Space Station today. Inside the orbital lab, the station residents continued more rodent bone and muscle research, checked for microbes and cleaned fans.
A total of 17 Cubesats have been released since Monday from a small satellite deployer on the outside of the Kibo experiment module’s airlock. The suite of Cubesats deployed today will provide Earth observations, improve commercial ship tracking and provide weather data on the Earth’s seas.
Bone density measurements were on the schedule again for the mice being monitored as part of the Rodent Research-3 study. The experiment is researching the bone and muscle wasting that takes place in space and is exploring an antibody to prevent musculoskeletal weakness to benefit astronauts and people on Earth.
The crew sampled and analyzed the station’s surfaces and air for microbes to monitor and protect the orbital lab’s environment. Ventilation fans in the U.S. Destiny lab module were also inspected and cleaned today to keep the air clean and flowing keeping the environment safe.
Commander Tim Kopra, from Austin, Texas, poses inside the cupola as the station orbits over the Earth below.
A new wave of Cubesats was shot into space today for a wide variety of Earth observations and communications research. The crew also explored life science and worked on high-flying plumbing tasks.
Today’s set of Cubesat deployments from the Kibo lab module’s airlock was the second of three consecutive days of deployment operations. The Dove Satellites deployed today are built and operated by Planet Labs Inc. and take images of Earth for several humanitarian and environmental applications.
Back inside the International Space Station, the crew took bone density measurements in mice in the Microgravity Science Glovebox to learn how living in space affects muscles and bones. The Rodent Research-3 experiment is testing an antibody used on Earth that may prevent muscle and bone wasting in space possibly improving the health of astronauts and humans on the ground.
The Waste and Hygiene Compartment (WHC), one of the orbital lab’s restrooms, experienced a problem last week requiring some part replacement work. That maintenance work coincided with the installation of a new Advanced Recycle Filter Tank Assembly in support of transition to new pre-treat formula which aims to increase the amount of urine that is recycled into potable water.