BEAM Open for the First Time

BEAM First Ingress
NASA astronaut Jeff Williams floats in front of the entrance to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams opened the hatch to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at 4:47 a.m. EDT Monday, June 6. Along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, Williams entered BEAM for the first time to collect an air sample and begin downloading data from sensors on the dynamics of BEAM’s expansion. Williams told flight controllers at Mission Control, Houston that BEAM looked “pristine” and said it was cold inside, but that there was no evidence of any condensation on its inner surfaces.

Additional ingress opportunities to deploy other sensors and equipment in BEAM are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. The hatch to BEAM will be closed after each entry.

Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston expanded the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) by filling it with air during more than seven hours of operations Saturday, May 28. The BEAM launched April 8 aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and was attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility module about a week later.

The BEAM is an example of NASA’s increased commitment to partnering with industry to enable the growth of the commercial use of space. The BEAM, which Bigelow Aerospace developed and built, is co-sponsored by Bigelow and NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division.

BEAM Leak Checks While New Crew Preps for Launch

Expedition 48-49 Crew Members
Expedition 48-49 crew members were in Star City, Russia, participating in final qualification exams inside a Soyuz simulator last week. From left are Takuya Onishi, Anatoly Ivanishin and Kate Rubins

The week’s final set of CubeSats were deployed Wednesday night as the new BEAM goes through a series of leak checks before next week’s entry. Back inside the orbital lab, the six-member Expedition 47 crew conducted advanced space research sponsored by private and public institutions.

A final pair of CubeSats was deployed outside the Kibo lab module Wednesday wrapping up the week’s deployment activities. Since Monday, a total of 16 Dove satellites were released into orbit from a small satellite deployer attached to Kibo. The CubeSats will observe the Earth’s environment helping disaster relief efforts and improving agricultural yields.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) environment continues to be equalized with that of the rest of the International Space Station. Astronaut Jeff Williams is continuing to install components on the BEAM bulkhead and vestibule area before entering the new expandable module early next week.

The rest of the crew explored human research to improve astronaut health on long space journeys possibly benefitting humans on Earth too. Back on Earth, three new Expedition 48-49 crew members, Soyuz Commander Anatoly Ivanishin and Flight Engineers Kate Rubins and Takuya Onishi, are in Russia counting down to a June 24 launch to the space station.

Earth Monitoring CubeSats Released

CubeSat Deployed
A CubeSat is deployed April 27 from a deployer on the outside of Kibo lab module.

More CubeSats are due to be deployed today contributing to humanitarian and environmental research. The crew is also continuing biomedical science to improve the health of astronauts in space and humans on Earth.

The final set of CubeSats will be released tonight from a small satellite deployer outside Japan’s Kibo laboratory module. This current fleet of 16 CubeSats, also known as Dove satellites, began deploying Monday and will monitor the Earth to help improve disaster relief and agriculture yields.

The crew is exploring new space exercise techniques today to keep muscles, bones and the heart healthy during long-duration missions. The crew is also tracking its medication intake to determine the effectiveness and any side effects of using medicine in space.

BEAM, or the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is still undergoing temperature and pressure checks while some relief valves and ventilation valves are being swapped out. Astronaut Jeff Williams will enter BEAM for the first time next week to install sensors measuring the expandable module’s environment.

BEAM Leak Checks Before Crew Enters Next Week

Sun Glint
Astronaut Tim Peake photographed the sun glint over the Earth and tweeted this image. Credit: @Astro_TimPeake

BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, was successfully expanded Saturday beginning two years of tests to demonstrate the new expandable technology. BEAM was pressurized and expanded to its full volume, width and length this weekend after 25 pulses of air were introduced into the new module.

BEAM leak checks are underway and will continue before astronaut Jeff Williams gets the go to enter the module on June 6. Williams will install sensors inside BEAM to measure its environment.

Japan’s Kibo lab module is sending more CubeSats into orbit this week from a small satellite deployer. The CubeSats are supporting research such as communications and Earth observations sponsored by government, education and private organizations.

Back inside the International Space Station, the six-person Expedition 47 crew was exploring human research and advanced physics in microgravity. The crew was also setting up science gear and maintenance hardware and continued packing the Orbital ATK Cygnus cargo craft before its June 14 departure.

BEAM Fully Expanded and Pressurized

BEAM Expanded and Pressurized
The space station now hosts the new fully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the Tranquility module. Credit: NASA

Pressurization of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) began at 4:34 p.m. EDT, and the eight tanks filled with air completed full pressurization of the module 10 minutes later at 4:44 p.m. BEAM’s pressure will be equalized with that of the International Space Station, where it will remain attached for a two-year test period.

The module measured just over 7 feet long and just under 7.75 feet in diameter in its packed configuration. BEAM now measures more than 13 feet long and about 10.5 feet in diameter to create 565 cubic feet of habitable volume. It weighs approximately 3,000 pounds.

During the next week, leak checks will be performed on BEAM to ensure its structural integrity. Hatch opening and NASA astronaut Jeff Williams’ first entrance into BEAM will take place about a week after leak checks are complete.

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.

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.

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station.

BEAM Expanded To Full Size

BEAM Expansion
The BEAM expansion took several hours today as astronaut Jeff Williams sent two dozen pulses of air into the expandable module. Credit: NASA TV

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was expanded to its full size at 4:10 p.m. EDT.  Expansion was completed as the International Space Station flew over the south Pacific at an altitude of 252 miles. The NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working with NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams will now begin the final step to open eight tanks of air stored within the BEAM to pressurize the module. NASA Television coverage continues and can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center spent more than seven hours on operations to fill the BEAM with air to cause it to expand.

Williams opened the valve 25 times today for a total time of 2 minutes and 27 seconds to add air to the module in short bursts as flight controllers carefully monitored the module’s internal pressure. Time in between bursts allowed the module to stabilize and expand.

From the beginning of operations at 9:04 a.m. EDT, the module added 61 inches in length to reach 67 inches beyond its packed configuration and an internal diameter of 127 inches. Its final length will be 158 inches, and its final diameter will be 127 inches.

BEAM is a technology demonstration from which we will learn more about how these types of habitats will perform in a microgravity environment. It will remain attached to station for a two-year test period.

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station. For additional live coverage of expansion, follow @Space_Station on Twitter.

BEAM Coverage on NASA TV Contunues

BEAM Expansion Coverage on NASA TV
BEAM expansion coverage continues on NASA TV.

NASA Television coverage is again underway for the operations to resume shortly to add air to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) attached to the International Space Station. NASA TV can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

The module has been slowly expanding for the last three hours as NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams has introduced eight short bursts of air to the BEAM, allowing the module to stabilize and expand in between bursts as flight controllers monitor the operation.

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station. For additional live coverage of expansion, follow @Space_Station on Twitter.

NASA TV BEAM Coverage on Break

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module
BEAM, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, is depicted in its expanded configuration in this computer rendering.

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams has continued to add air to the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) in a series of short bursts during operations aboard the International Space Station today. A total of 44 seconds of air has been introduced during eight bursts.

Flight controllers are monitoring the operation as the module slowly expands. BEAM has expanded at least 16 inches in length and at least seven inches in diameter since the first burst at 9:04 a.m. EDT.

The team will take another break until the International Space Station again has television capability so flight controllers can monitor the expansion. NASA Television coverage from Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will resume at 12:10 p.m. EDT and can be viewed at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station.

BEAM Operations Resuming

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams
NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams monitors BEAM from the Tranquility module during expansion. Credit: NASA TV

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are resuming operations to expand the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), currently attached to the International Space Station. NASA Television coverage is again underway and can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv

During operations this morning, NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams introduced four pulses of air into the BEAM during a total 34 seconds. Time in between bursts allows the module to stabilize and expand in between. Flight controllers have confirmed the module is expanding both in length and diameter.

The teams are expected to resume expansion operations momentarily.

For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station. For additional live coverage of expansion, follow @Space_Station on Twitter.

NASA TV Coverage of Beam Expansion Continues

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are resuming operations to expand the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), currently attached to the International Space Station. NASA Television coverage is again underway and can be seen at https://www.nasa.gov/nasatv 

 During operations this morning, NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams introduced four pulses of air into the BEAM during a total 34 seconds. Time in between bursts allows the module to stabilize and expand in between. Flight controllers have confirmed the module is expanding both in length and diameter.

 The teams are expected to resume expansion operations momentarily.

 For more information about BEAM, visit: www.nasa.gov/beam. For more information about the International Space Station, visit: www.nasa.gov/station. For additional live coverage of expansion, follow @Space_Station on Twitter.