The International Space Station is all set to install the very first expandable habitat for astronauts which will help decide the design of deep space habitats including on Mars. This significant event is scheduled for 16th of April.
Expandable habitats are very useful in rockets as they take up relatively lesser space, but provide more volume for living and working space once it is expanded.
The investigators will gain a first-hand view of how the expandable habitat performs and protects the inhabitant against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremities of space.
Once the test period is expired, the expandable habitat, BEAM will be released from the ISS and will burn up during its descent through the Earth’s atmosphere.
The BEAM, which stands for Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be attached to the Earth’s station, Tranquillity over a period of about four hours.
NASA astronauts aboard the station will secure BEAM using common berthing mechanism controls.
BEAM was launched aboard Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on April 8.
At the end of May, the module will be expanded to nearly five times its compressed size of 7 feet in diameter by 8 feet in length to roughly 10 feet in diameter and 13 feet in length.
Astronauts will first enter the habitat about a week after expansion and, during a two-year test mission, will return to the module for a few hours several times a year to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions.
The BEAM project is co-sponsored by NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division and Bigelow Aerospace.