William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, and Jason Crusan, director of the agency's advanced exploration systems division, view the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module at Bigelow’s facility in Las Vegas on March 12. Image Credit: Stephanie Schierholz

William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, and Jason Crusan, director of the agency’s advanced exploration systems division, view the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module at Bigelow’s facility in Las Vegas on March 12.
Image Credit: Stephanie Schierholz

In a March 12 news briefing, NASA and Bigelow Aerospace detailed future use of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM.

NASA officials viewed the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module at Bigelow’s facility in Las Vegas prior to its sendoff to Florida for launch later this year aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster.

In its packed configuration tucked aboard SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft, BEAM will measure approximately 8 feet in diameter.

Once BEAM is attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility Node, onboard crew members will perform initial systems checks before deploying the habitat.

How will it perform?

During the BEAM’s minimum two-year test period, crews will routinely enter the BEAM. In addition, the module will be assessed as to its performance to help inform designs for future habitat systems.

The expandable habitat will be monitored as to its adaption to the thermal environment of space, reaction to radiation, as well as micrometeroids and orbital debris strikes.

Once BEAM is deployed it will add an additional 565 cubic feet of volume — about the size of a large family camping tent — that is accessible space by astronauts aboard the orbiting laboratory.

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