The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was expanded to its full size at 4:10 p.m. EDT. Expansion was completed as the International Space Station flew over the south Pacific at an altitude of 252 miles. The NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working with NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams will now begin the final step to open eight tanks of air stored within the BEAM to pressurize the module. NASA Television coverage continues and can be seen at http://www.nasa.gov/nasatv
NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams and the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams working at Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center spent more than seven hours on operations to fill the BEAM with air to cause it to expand.
Williams opened the valve 25 times today for a total time of 2 minutes and 27 seconds to add air to the module in short bursts as flight controllers carefully monitored the module’s internal pressure. Time in between bursts allowed the module to stabilize and expand.
From the beginning of operations at 9:04 a.m. EDT, the module added 61 inches in length to reach 67 inches beyond its packed configuration and an internal diameter of 127 inches. Its final length will be 158 inches, and its final diameter will be 127 inches.
BEAM is a technology demonstration from which we will learn more about how these types of habitats will perform in a microgravity environment. It will remain attached to station for a two-year test period.