NASA is to hook up the ISS to an inflatable space residence of sorts.
The ISS has gotten much in the way of some cosmetic surgery in recent times. However, the newest thing that is to be affixed to it is quite a surprising object worthy of all the admiration in the world.
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It consists of a 12 foot long expandable chamber that is to be attached to the rear end of the space station. It can be inflated to twice its size in a jiffy.
According to USAToday, NASA reported that the BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) as it is called, will make a journey to the ISS on the next resupply mission.
This thing called BEAM will be affixed to the rear portal of the ISS via a robotic arm. Then it will swell to twice its size at the merest touch of a button.
In the beginning it will be five and a half feet and after inflation it will be 12 feet. The whole process will take 45 minutes. The astronauts will enter BEAM a total of four times.
The lengthiest of these stays will last 3 hours in duration. There are actually no limits to the amount of time that could be spent in BEAM.
The only problem is that the astronauts will already be running short of time. So their sojourn aboard BEAM will be for a limited period of time.
Among some of the experiments that will be carried out aboard BEAM are radiation protection, temperature measurements and general operations.
There will not be much of a difference between the atmosphere of BEAM and the ISS. They are brothers of the same mother. The impact toughness of both are very similar.
If there is any difference it is one of temperature and condensation levels. BEAM is slightly cooler and shows greater condensation levels upon expansion.
BEAM will remain attached to the ISS for a period of two years. After this time span is over, it will be whisked away into space. A chance of a lengthier duration will be entertained as a last resort.
It could actually remain attached to the ISS for half a decade. This is an exciting mission and it will have many important repercussions. For one thing, similar operations will be carried out in the near future.
Moon missions and the first trip to Mars may employ such inflatable rooms. The possibilities are limitless. Such inflatables could serve well in the colonization and settlement of outer space.
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Some challenges still exist before inflatable chambers could be ready to be utilized on the surfaces of other planets. Nevertheless, the venues opened up by this novel piece of technology are indeed cause for celebration.