BEAM Inflatable ISS Module Hatch Opened For The First Time This Week

In late March, a resupply capsule lifted off and headed to the ISS and among the gear and supplies on board was the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module known as BEAM. After many weeks of work, the BEAM module was finally inflated and astronaut Jeff Williams entered the BEAM module for the first time this week. Upon entering the new module, Williams checked sensors, installed air ducts, and reported to controllers on Earth that the module was in working order.

Once the checks and installations were complete, Williams left the module and closed the hatch. ISS crew will enter BEAM a few more times through Wednesday to check sensors and gear inside. The current plan is for Beam to stay attached to the ISS for two years of durability testing. Testing of BEAM isn't the only experiments underway on the ISS currently.

British astronaut Tim Peake is exploring how astronauts adapt to tasks that require lots of concentration and detailed procedures. After completing work in the BEAM module, Williams collected biological samples to be stored away and analyzed for an experiment called Multi-Omics that is studying the immune system.

While these other experiments were underway, ISS commander Tim Peake and Flight Engineer Yuri Malenchenko were packing up the Soyuz TMA-19M for a June 18 departure. Astronaut Peake will also be going home on that same flight after 6 months in space. If all the testing goes well for the BEAM module, we may see the modules find use in many other aspects of space exploration. The inflatable modules could be used for future bases on the moon and beyond or to expand the ISS further bringing more room for living and experiments.