On Saturday, NASA successfully completed the deployment of the first expandable habitat on the International Space Station. With help from the ground, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams began inflating the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) at 9:04AM ET.
He opened the valve 25 times to inject air into the module in short bursts, according to NASA. Time in between allowed the BEAM to expand and stabilize, as the NASA and Bigelow Aerospace teams monitored the module's internal pressure. The BEAM was expanded to its full size seven hours later, at 4:10PM ET.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the BEAM program. A significant milestone has been accomplished pic.twitter.com/xPvQHPFRkS— Bigelow Aerospace (@BigelowSpace) May 28, 2016
NASA canceled its first attempt to inflate the habitat on May 26th, after it hit some higher-than-expected forces during expansion. The operation was resumed on Saturday May 28th, this time successfully. Now, the BEAM will stay attached to the ISS for two years to test the technology in space. Astronauts will enter the module only three or four times a year to gather data on how the expandable habitat can protect against solar radiation, space debris, and extreme temperatures.