Bigelow Aerospace BEAM inflated module was correctly attached after extracting yesterday from Dragon spacecraft cargo module.
Yesterday, on April 16, 2016, BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) was attached to a berthing port on the aft side of the Tranquility module on 09:36 GMT. Operators remaining in ground control center send commands for Canadarm2 robotic arm to reach Dragon spacecraft (CRS-8 Dragon remained docked to Earth facing port of Harmony module since April 10, 2016). Next, Canadarm2 extracted BEAM (which dimensions before inflating are LxW 1.7 m x 2.4 m with mass at 1360 kg) from unpressurized section of the Dragon and slowly moved it to Tranquility module. During whole operation all operations performed by Canadarm2 were not involving crew members of International Space Station – extracting and attaching BEAM was done remotely from ground control center. At 09:36 GMT BEAM was attached and started its 2 year test period during which it will meet all the challenges associated with conventional modules of ISS: space radiation, sun wind, micro asteroids or possible contact with space debris. BEAM will be equipped with monitoring sensors and equipment for constant monitoring state of module. One of main objectives of the BEAM test mission is figuring how special fabric which is used for outer shell of the module stops radiation at the beginning and in the end of two years test period. It will give answer for question how resistant is Vectran-like material in period of time. Inflating with air and extending BEAM to regular size is planned for around 26th May 2016. It is not known if module will be inflated at once or it will take some time with breaks for monitoring if there is not leakage between flexible outer shell and docking port; after inflating, BEAM will be long for 4 m and wide for 3.2 m with volume of 16 cubic meters. After filling module with air and achieving full pressurized conditions, crew members will enter to BEAM and install sensors and monitoring equipment. Periodically they will enter to module, perform tests and check monitoring devices. Results from BEAM tests will serve during creating Bigelow commercial space station B330 which is largely based on BEAM technology, but mainly for developing NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems (AES) Program.
On picture above You can see BEAM compared to size of men: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and President and founder of Bigelow Aerospace Robert T. Bigelow are talking in front of the BEAM module.