NASA’s Inflatable International Space Station Addition Failed, and They’re Trying to Figure out Why
The astronauts need their bouncy castle!
NASA’s BEAM module that was set to expand the International Space Station yesterday—quite literally, as BEAM is an inflatable habitat that was supposed to blow up to usable size—failed to function, and they’re still trying to figure out why. However, I’m now being told by sources that this inflatable addition to the ISS is not actually a bouncy castle, so I guess they’re not missing much, at least.
It’s still a pretty big bummer, though, as BEAM’s (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) deployment was meant as a test for future uses of the technology in deep space missions. Every bit of room and weight matters in space missions, and expandable habitats provide savings on those fronts while still providing a comfortable workspace for astronauts when fully deployed—one that still protects them from “cosmic radiation, space debris, atomic oxygen, ultraviolet radiation and other elements of the space environment,” because space is trying to kill us all.
Unfortunately, when it was scheduled to expand yesterday morning at 6:10 a.m. EDT, things didn’t go as planned. The habitat only expanded a few inches—hardly a stirring demonstration of the concept’s practicality, though likely only a minor setback in the grand scheme of things. It’s pretty likely we’ll see it fully expanded soon enough, when the real testing will begin on whether or not it’s functionally durable or protective enough to be an effective proof-of-concept for future habitats.
In the meantime, NASA’s still working to pinpoint the cause of the failure, and they’ll update the media at 2PM EDT today on what they’ve discovered and the future of BEAM. Then, I assume, they’ll use their research to start working on space bouncy castles to further human space exploration, because what’s the point of leaving the only place in the Universe with bouncy castles?
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