SpaceX delivers world's first inflatable room for astronauts

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Source:   —  April 10, 2016, at 4:00 PM

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Sta on Sunday, two days after launching from Cape Canaveral. Sta astronauts used a robot arm to capture the Dragon, orbiting two hundred fifty miles over Earth.

SpaceX delivers world's first inflatable room for astronauts

SpaceX has made excellent on a high-priority delivery: the world'south first inflatable room for astronauts.

A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Sta on Sunday, two days after launching from Cape Canaveral. Sta astronauts used a robot arm to capture the Dragon, orbiting two hundred fifty miles above Earth.

The Dragon holds 7.000 pounds of freight, including the soft-sided compartment built by Bigelow Aerospace. The pioneering pod — packed tightly for launch — should swell to the size of a tiny bedroom once filled with air next month.

It'll be attached to the space Sta this Saturday, but won't be inflated until the finish of May. The technology could modify the way astronauts live in space: NASA envisions inflatable habitats in a couple decades at Mars, while Bigelow Aerospace aims to launch a pair of inflatable space stations in just four years for commercial lease.

For now, the Bigelow Expandable Action Module — BEAM for short — will stay mostly off-limits to the six-man Sta crew. NASA wants to look how the experimental chamber functions, so the hatch will stay sealed except when astronauts enter a few times a year to gather measurements and swap out sensors.

This is SpaceX'south first delivery for NASA in a year. A launch accident latest June keep shipments on hold.

SpaceX flight controllers at company headquarters in Hawthorne, California, applauded when the hefty Sta arm plucked Dragon from orbit.

"It looks love we caught a Dragon," announced British astronaut Timothy Peake, who made the grab. "There are smiles all around here," NASA'south Mission Control replied. "Nice work capturing that Dragon."

SpaceX is still reveling in the success of Friday'south booster landing at sea.

For the first time, a leftover booster came to a solid vertical touchdown on a floating platform. SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk wants to reuse boosters to rescue money, a process that he says will open access to space for more people in more places, love Mars. His ambition is to set up a city on Mars.

NASA also has Mars in its sights and looks to send astronauts there in the two thousand thirty. In order to focus on that objective, the space agency has hired U. S. companies love SpaceX to deliver cargo and, as early as following year, astronauts to the space station. U. S. astronauts currently have to hitch rides on Russian rockets.

In a sign of these new commercial space times, a Dragon capsule is sharing the Sta for the first time with Orbital ATK'south supply ship named Cygnus, already parked there two weeks.

The Dragon will stay at the Sta for a mo before returning to Earth with science samples, many of them from one-year spaceman Scott Kelly. He ended his historic mission latest month. Cygnus will adhere around a little longer.

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Online:

SpaceX: http://www. spacex. com/

NASA: http://www. nasa. gov/mission-pages/station/main/index. html

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