The colonisation of Mars is the next big step in aeronautics for mankind and NASA is inching one step closer with the launch of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). As reported by NewsNation, this will enable the astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) to attach this expandable habitat to the station’s back and inflate it to twice it’s original size.
In the effort to make space travel and expeditions more comfortable for astronauts, this innovative technology can be transported to space without consuming much storage space on the spacecraft. It will help protect the explorers from harmful cosmic and ultra violet radiation. The BEAM will be attached to the ISS for about 2 years and if it does its job right, chances are that they will become the basis of habitat housing for future lunar missions (Mars).
NASA is all set to launch a BEAM unit on the eighth commercial resupply mission to ISS.
Inflatable modules are an attractive option for space habitats from a mass and volume perspective. In their deflated configuration, they are more compact and potentially much lighter than other alternatives. For these reasons, they could be easier to fit into a launch vehicle and even cheaper to launch.
TechCrunch adds that BEAM is equipped with sensors inside the module that will be used to track thermal, environmental and radiation protection properties throughout its two-year stay on the ISS. During that time, astronauts on board will go into the module two to three times every six months for a few hours at a time.