NASA & Bigelow Expand the ISS with Inflatable Habitat Module – BEAM
North Las Vegas, NV — In a press conference on Wednesday, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver officially announced that Bigelow Aerospace has been awarded a $17.8 million contract to provide NASA with its newest space habitat, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module. (BEAM)
The inflatable module will be attached to the International Space Station, and NASA will test its effectiveness in a number of different categories, most notably, structural integrity, leak rate in addition to radiation and temperature changes as opposed to traditional aluminum modules.
“Today we’re demonstrating progress on a technology that will advance important long-duration human spaceflight goals,” Ms. Garver said. “NASA’s partnership with Bigelow opens a new chapter in our continuing work to bring the innovation of industry to space, heralding cutting edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably.”
“Our work with commercial partners is helpful to us, not only to reach low earth orbit, but also to live there and what we do and learn can benefit all of us here on Earth. Today, what we demonstrate is the progress on a technology for humans to live in space for the long term and to open a new chapter of bringing innovation to space.”
The module will be delivered to the ISS by SpaceX, and paid for by NASA.
“Beam will launch on the SpaceX CRS-8 re-supply mission, currently planned for May of 2015. It will berth with ISS on the Tranquility Node aft port, via the SpaceX Dragon. The mission will enable closed hatch operations, with the crew able to periodically go in and out. The module will be jettisoned after 2 years.”
The NASA statement, as discerned by Ms. Garver, read in part;
“As we continue to work with our program partners, who are beginning to take cargo, and will soon take crew to and from the ISS, this is now an added ability to utilize the on orbit laboratory,”
“Again, our stepping stone to the Universe.”
“So, where we have had astronauts living and working in space continuously for over 12 years, [we] will now be having expanded, literally, capabilities, and we are so pleased to announce this partnership today. I want to thank the Bigelow team starting with Mr. Bigelow…it has been a privilege to work with you and your team, in particular, Mike Gold over these last few years, directly on this agreement, ”
“So thank you, it’s a great day for NASA and for America.”
The future of manned space exploration seems secure for now.
Article by Jim Donahue