On April 16th, the ISS will become just a wee bit bigger after astronauts install the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. BEAM hitched a ride aboard SpaceX’s Dragon capsule during its latest (and historic) resupply mission. Astronauts will use the robotic Canadarm2 to unload it from the capsule and move it to position, before unfolding and expanding it to add a 10-x-13-foot area to the station. If all goes well, BEAM will look like a small protrusion from outside the ISS, as you can see at the top center of the image above. The space agency will televise the installation live on NASA TV, so you can watch it go down… if you can wake up at 5:30AM (Eastern time) on a Saturday.
The International Space Center(ISS) will get an appendage on April 16 this year making it slightly bigger.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module referred to as BEAM will be installed by NASA on the ISS on April 16.
BEAM is aboard the Space X’s unmanned Dragon capsule that in a successful launch on April 8. It carries with it 7,000 pounds (3100 Kilos) of gear for the six astronauts living at the outpost in space.
Among the paraphernalia is the BEAM – an inflatable space room that will let Astronauts test micro gravity for the very first time. This will be a temporary attachment to the ISS.
While this is a first of many, what has got the poeple on Earth excited is that all this can be viewed right from one’s living room. The space agency will be live screening it on TV.
The space station is getting a new module this weekend.
At 2:15am on Saturday, April 16, mission controllers at NASA will take control of the International Space Station’s giant robot arm (Canadarm2). Using it, they will remove the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (“BEAM”) from the “trunk” of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which is currently docked at the station. The robot arm will move the module from the capsule to the station’s Tranquility node, where it will be attached to the station by astronauts. From there the astronauts will begin procedures to expand the module for use.
After about a week after it’s attached, astronauts will make their first entry into the station’s newest module. The BEAM is an experimental prototype for expandable habitats, which could be used to add on to the existing space station or in a modular fashion to construct new ones. BEAM will remain a part of the space station for 2 years, after which time it will be detached and allowed to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
The goal of the two year mission is to learn how well these types of expandable habitats perform in space, and monitored to see how well they protect against space hazards such as radiation and micro-impacts from small particles in space. NASA and private companies are interested in this type of expandable habitat because they’re lightweight and less expensive to build than traditional space station construction.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will be attached to the station’s Tranquility module over a period of about four hours. Controllers in mission control at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will remove BEAM from the unpressurized trunk of SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, using the robotic Canadarm2, and move it into position next to Tranquility’s aft assembly port.
NASA astronauts aboard the station will secure BEAM using common berthing mechanism controls. Robotic operations begin at 2:15 a.m. and are expected to be complete by 6:15 a.m.
BEAM launched aboard Dragon on April 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. 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.