Space

Astronauts enter BEAM module for the first time

Astronauts enter BEAM module f...
Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module
Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module
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Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module
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Astronaut Jeff Williams works inside the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was unsealed today by the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) without incident. At 4:47 am EDT, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, with the assistance of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, opened the hatch of the experimental habitat module as part of a two-year project to assess the technology of the inflatable unit.

Wearing goggles and filter masks as protection against any dust or debris that may have come adrift in the experimental module, Williams and Skripochka entered to take air samples. They then inspected the condition of the structure, which they described as "pristine," though cold without any signs of condensation. They also installed air ducts, and downloaded data from BEAM's onboard sensors. Having completed their tasks, Williams resealed the module as a safety precaution.

According to NASA, the astronauts will re-enter the BEAM several times on Tuesday and Wednesday to install and check additional sensors and gear. Because the module is experimental, it will remain sealed for the next two years when not being inspected and will not be used for habitation or other activities.

Built by Bigelow Aerospace, the BEAM was delivered to the space station aboard an unmanned SpaceX Dragon cargo ship that launched on April 8. It was then transferred using a robotic arm to a docking berth on the Tranquility module. On May 26, the first attempt to inflate it failed for unknown reasons, though Bigelow engineers suggest that the problem may have been due to settling after long storage before launch. It was successfully deployed after a seven hour operation on May 28.

The video below shows Williams entering the BEAM.

Source: NASA

Space Station Live : Astronaut Jeff Williams Enters BEAM Expandable Module

2 comments
mhpr262
Even if people can't live in it permanently yet, they can still use it for storing stuff. That ought to free up quite a bit of space in the rest of the station.
VirtualGathis
@mhpr2625 - NASA is being very cautious, so they will not be adding anything to it to prevent the stored items from causing damage, or being involuntarily jettisoned. The test is also a 2 year test, at the end of which the intent is to jettison the module. It is a test unit after all. I'm with you though. Use it as a storage locker for trash or other less critical items. I'm also confused why jettison the module if it is still performing well at the end of 2 years.