Inflatable 'bedroom' attached to space Sta

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Source:   —  April 19, 2016, at 5:27 PM

Bigelow Expandable Action Module (BEAM) is the first test module to ever attach to the space station. The prototype was one of the highly anticipated experiments SpaceX launched into orbit earlier in April.

Inflatable 'bedroom' attached to space Sta

A prototype that may one day usher an era of space hotels has successfully been attached to the International Space Station, NASA said Saturday.

Bigelow Expandable Action Module (BEAM) is the first test module to ever attach to the space station. The prototype was one of the highly anticipated experiments SpaceX launched into orbit earlier in April.

What's unique about this experiment is that it's an expandable habitat that may one day replace the metal structures that currently reside in space.

BEAM, created by Bigelow Areospace, will stay attached to ISS for two years. During that time, an astronaut will enter the bedroom-size habitat four times a year and conduct tests to look how well BEAM performs against solar radiation, space debris and temperature fluctuations.

NASA has an invested interest in BEAM'south performance. The space agency is investigating new ways to hold astronauts secure and healthy during long space travel, particularly as it plans to bring astronauts to Mars by the two thousand thirty. Expandable habitats are an appealing option because they're lighter, easier to carry and have more room for astronauts to move around.

SHOULD WATCH

NASA has been clear that the following space Sta will most likely be a commercial station. Expandable habitats may be an option for building a new ISS someday, Jason Crusan, director of NASA'south Advanced Exploration Systems, told CNN.

By two thousand twenty, Bigelow hopes to have an expandable space Sta in lower Earth orbit and beyond. "We've the architecture to launch on the moon, but our first step it to launch into lower orbit," Bigelow said.

So how does this connect to space hotels of the future? Bigelow, who made his fortune from the hotel chain Budget Suites, hopes expandable technology could one day be used for research and tourism trips to other planets.

He envisions the following space Sta as another destination for travelers.

In the meantime, BEAM will be inflated with air in May. If everything goes as planned, after two years the prototype will be released from the space Sta and harmlessly burn up in Earth'south atmosphere.

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