Photo Credit: NASA
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) has been given the green light to stay attached to the aft portion of the International Space Station’s Tranquility node for a further three years. The new contract began in November 2017, according to NASA.
Designed and built by Bigelow Aerospace, the company received a sole-source contract from NASA to keep the inflatable module on the space station for this extended period of time. Up until now, BEAM has rarely been used by astronauts and cosmonauts residing on board the ISS – that is about to change. Beam is expected to be used to store spare space station hardware, among other things. Additionally, the extension will allow for additional performance data to be gathered on expandable habitat technologies.
BEAM was launched to the ISS in April 2016 inside the trunk of SpaceX’s CRS-8 Dragon cargo ship. It was attached to the station not long after. It was expanded to its full volume of 565 cubic feet (16 cubic meters) in late May of that year.
Astronaut Jeff Williams and cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka were the first two people to enter the module on June 6, 2016. But for the most part ...