Bigelow Inflatable Room to be Attached to ISS in 2015

Posted on October 7, 2014

Bigelow Expandable Activity Module

An inflatable room will be attached to the International Space Station (ISS) in a mission next year. The room is a module designed by Bigelow Aerospace. It is called a Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

An artist's concept of the BEAM is pictured above. reports that NASA is paying Bigelow $17.8 million for the test module. The module will be carried to the ISS in SpaceX's Dragon cargo spacecraft. It will be attached to the ISS by astronauts using a robotic arm. The module is then expanded to its full size by activating a pressurization system.

William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for human exploration and operations at NASA, says in a statement. "As we venture deeper into space on the path to Mars, habitats that allow for long-duration stays in space will be a critical capability. Using the station's resources, we'll learn how humans can work effectively with this technology in space, as we continue to advance our understanding in all aspects for long-duration spaceflight aboard the orbiting laboratory."

The module will remain in place for testing for a minimum of two years. After testing is complicated the BEAM will be jettisoned from the space station. This video shows the module being attached to the space station and inflated.

Here is a video about Bigelow's expandable space habitats. It shows a warehouse with several of the inflatable rooms. One can also be seen being tested underwataer. The video also shows illustrations of the interior of a BEAM and animations of a BEAM being attached to a space station. Take a look:

Photo: Bigelow