NASA astronaut to take first step inside ‘inflatable space hotel’ docked to International Space Station actually

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Jeff Williams

Last week, NASA successfully inflated an expandable space habitat on the side of the orbiting structure to give its occupants a little extra room. Astronauts have to get used to cramped spaces and the International Space Station is no exception.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is made from a soft, foldable fabric.

It will remain attached to the ISS for a two-year period , during which time astronauts will conduct a series of experiments to test the overall performance and capability of “expandable habitats”.

Getty
Jeff Williams
Crew member of Expedition 47/48, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams gives a thumbs up during a spacesuit check at the Baikonur Cosmodrome

At some point today, US astronaut Jeff Williams will step inside it for the first time to begin the testing procedure. NASA hasn’t revealed exactly when that will be, though.

Astronauts will re-enter the module several times a year throughout the two-year test period to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions inside the module.

It took three days in total to inflate to its full dimensions of 13 feet in length and ten-and-a-half feet in diameter.


How Does The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module Work?

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The hope is that one day entire space stations – as well as bases on planets like Mars – could be made from the technology.

Eventually, these “expandable habitats” could even provide accommodation for space tourists looking for out-of-this-world holidays.

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Inflatable add-on room, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), at the International Space Station
Inflatable add-on room, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), at the International Space Station

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