NASA Expandable Habitat: NASA’s Inflatable Room Succeeds Expansion Near ISS On Second Attempt [VIDEO]


The first attempt to expand a new room on the International Space Station (ISS) had gone terribly hard for NASA. There had been little trouble with Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable module, an expandable habitat last Memorial Day weekend.

Early Saturday morning, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams permitted short ruptures of air to escape into the expandable habitat, allowing it to expand while flight controllers at Johnson Space Center monitored the module's internal pressure. Following this successful expansion, NASA pushed ahead and entirely pressurized the inflatable module on Saturday afternoon, Ars Technica reported.

The Bigelow module measure 7 feet long by 7.75 feet wide when packed inside the trunk of a Dragon cargo spacecraft.  Then, it measures 13 feet long and 10.5 feet in diameter when expanded, creating 565 cubic feet of space with a weight of 3,000 pounds. When all these went well throughout this week with a series of pressure and leak checks, Williams will be able to enter the Bigelow module next Monday, Ars Technica added.

On the first round of NASA timeline, Williams may open the hatch around 2:15am ET on Monday morning, go through and then take off a couple of days outfitting the hatch for lasting use on the station. The initial setup work will require a vent duct installation, data downloading from the three Deployment Dynamic Sensor units within that recorded vibration information and open the valves manually on the air tanks inside the expandable habitat to guarantee they are emptied, Ars Technica said. Before closing the hatch again, Williams will have to install radiation, temperature sensors and impact detection.

Hopefully, the Bigelow expandable habitat module holds up all through the next few years attached to the ISS. The success of the test could pave the way for larger inflatable modules on the ISS, including separate space stations and farther space habitats. Due to the lack of rigid structure, inflatables can be folded within the limited distance of a rocket fairing. When in space they can be expanded to make a massive amount of volume.

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