BEAM Modules Will Provide Additional Space On The ISS (+VIDEO)
NASA has recently concluded a $17.8 million contract with the Bigelow Aerospace, aiming to install a new kind of structure that will allow rapid expansion of the ISS (International Space Station) at a reasonable price. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Modules (BEAM) are bubble-like structures (13 feet by 10.5 feet), which quickly inflate like balloons and provide rapid deployment of additional space for crew members on the ISS instead of building traditional add-ons. NASA Deputy Administrator, Lori Garver, claims that this partnership will bring the innovation of industry to space, heralding cutting-edge technology that can allow humans to thrive in space safely and affordably. The BEAM module can withstand random space debris traveling at high speed. NASA also believes the BEAM modules may offer a viable solution for long-duration spaceflight aboard the orbiting laboratory, such as future missions to Mars.NASA plans to launch the first test of the structures in 2015, after which the BEAM will undergo a two-year evaluation phase.