Watch LIVE as NASA inflates an ‘expandable space hotel’ on the side of the International Space Station

The International Space Station is about to get its first “inflatable space hotel”1, giving astronauts a comfortable area to live and work as they orbit the Earth. NASA will today inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM)2, which was carried into orbit last month aboard a SpaceX3 cargo capsule, and attached to the ISS’s Tranquility Node using the station s robotic arm, Canadarm2. Unlike the rest of the station – which is built from aluminium – BEAM is made from a soft, foldable fabric.

As well as being lightweight – and therefore cheap to transport – this material provides protection from solar and cosmic radiation, space debris, atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and other elements of the space environment, according to NASA4 . It will remain attached to the ISS for a two-year period, during which time astronauts will conduct a series of experiments to test the overall performance and capability of “expandable habitats”. Astronauts will first enter the habitat on Thursday, June 2, through the station’s Tranquility module, and re-enter the module several times a year throughout the two-year test period to retrieve sensor data and assess conditions inside the module.

Watch LIVE As NASA Inflates An 'expandable Space Hotel' On The Side Of The International Space Station

BEAM – which can accommodate up to six people – has been developed by Bigelow Aerospace5 , a company founded by American hotel magnate Robert Bigelow, who made his fortune on the hotel chain Budget Suites. With his money, he founded the National Institute for Discovery Science to research “anomalous phenomena” like UFOs. He also created Bigelow Aerospace to begin work on expandable space habitats.

Unfortunately, the Bigelow space hotel isn’t open to the public just yet, but if BEAM performs well, it could lead to the development of more inflatable living pods for future crews travelling into deep space, NASA said. Eventually, these “expandable habitats” could even provide accommodation for space tourists looking for out-of-this-world holidays. Video coverage of the event begins at 10:30 BST, with the expansion process starting at 11.10.

Operations will be led by NASA astronaut Jeff Williams.

Watch LIVE As NASA Inflates An 'expandable Space Hotel' On The Side Of The International Space Station

Watch LIVE As NASA Inflates An 'expandable Space Hotel' On The Side Of The International Space Station

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References

  1. ^ get its first “inflatable space hotel” (www.mirror.co.uk)
  2. ^ Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) (www.nasa.gov)
  3. ^ SpaceX (www.mirror.co.uk)
  4. ^ NASA (www.mirror.co.uk)
  5. ^ Bigelow Aerospace (bigelowaerospace.com)

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