NASA generated a lot of buzz recently, revolving around plans to install an inflatable module on the International Space Station (ISS). Well, the project actually got underway today — and things did not go as planned.
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was delivered to the station last month, with plans to inflate and install the habitat extension for testing today. But, once astronauts uncoupled the device and started the inflation process, it stalled. Instead of blowing up into a big hangout space, the habitat expanded just a few inches and then stopped. Engineers are working now to figure out what went wrong, but for now, operations have been temporarily ceased.
Though the project is on hold for the moment, NASA says inflation could resume as early as Friday, assuming they can figure out what went wrong.
“NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are working closely to understand why the module did not fully expand today as planned. Engineers are meeting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss a path forward for the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM),” NASA said in a statement. “They are evaluating data from the expansion that has occurred thus far. If the data supports a resumption of operations, another attempt to complete the module’s expansion could come as early as tomorrow.”
Even though the project isn’t going off as planned, it’s still a great learning experience for everyone involved. Stuff that works on Earth doesn’t always function as intended in microgravity. So, whether it works or not, it can still provide some valuable intel.
Here’s hoping the BEAM can get back on track soon.
(Via The Verge)