Bigelow’s already demonstrated that inflatables can be deployed and operated in space. Now they’re moving closer to demonstrating an inflatable habitat with actual people in it: On the BEAM: Headed for the Space Station.
In its packed configuration tucked aboard SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft, BEAM will measure approximately 8 feet in diameter.
Once BEAM is attached to the International Space Station’s Tranquility Node, onboard crew members will perform initial systems checks before deploying the habitat…
During the BEAM’s minimum two-year test period, crews will routinely enter the BEAM. In addition, the module will be assessed as to its performance to help inform designs for future habitat systems.
The expandable habitat will be monitored as to its adaption to the thermal environment of space, reaction to radiation, as well as micrometeroids and orbital debris strikes.