NASA tries again at inflating BEAM on the ISS
Astronauts are trying again to expand the world’s first soft-sided compartment for the International Space Station.
Astronaut Jeffrey Williams opened a valve and introduced 22 seconds’ worth of air into the compartment, then several more seconds in brief bursts.
Mission Control reported noticeable growth in the structure.
NASA tried on Thursday but was halted after the pod barely grew in size when air was let in.
NASA believe the soft-sided compartment was packed up tight for so long before last month’s launch that the fabric layers had trouble unfolding to its full 13 feet in length and 10 ½ feet in diameter.
The team is proceeding slowly and methodically to inflate the room.
Mission operations manager Kenny Todd said that if too much force was exerted by BEAM on the space station — say by a rapid pressurization — the connecting modules could be weakened.
“To be honest with you, it doesn’t surprise me a great deal that we ended up here,” Todd said, given the conservative approach.
The plan is to inflate BEAM, close it off, and have astronauts periodically take measurements of the space over a two-year period. Sensors will also measure temperature and radiation levels, as well as possible impacts by space debris.