Bigelow Ready to Ship BEAM to Cape for Launch

The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
The BEAM module docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have scheduled a media availability next Thursday to mark the completion of all major milestones on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

Reporters will have the opportunity to see and photograph the BEAM before it’s shipped to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch to the International Space Station later this year. Robert Bigelow, president and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, and William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, will conduct a joint question and answer session with media.

The demonstration of expandable space habitat technology supports NASA’s long-term exploration goals on its journey to Mars, for which the agency will need to develop a deep space habitat for human missions beyond Earth orbit.

The BEAM is scheduled to launch in the second half of this year aboard the eighth SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the station and be installed on the aft port of the station’s Tranquility node.

For more information about Bigelow Aerospace, visit:

http://www.bigelowaerospace.com

For more information about the BEAM, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/news/beam_feature.html

  • therealdmt

    Alright, let’s get this going!

    It’s worth bearing in mind that Robert Bigelow (born in 1945) is now approximately 70 years old.

  • Phil

    Yeah! Let’s do this!

  • Chad Overton

    I’m assuming this thing is going to ride in the trunk of the Dragon?

  • Kirk

    Yes, in the trunk. Latest I see is that CRS-8 is scheduled for September, but that is still half a year away.

  • Hug Doug

    CRS-6 is currently scheduled for a mid April launch. the spacecraft for this mission has been completed and is being shipped to NASA right now. I haven’t heard if they are bringing up anything particularly special for this flight.

    CRS-7 is currently set for mid June. This mission will be bringing up the first International Docking Adapter that the Commercial Crew missions will be using.

    CRS-8 is currently slated for September. It will be bringing up the BEAM module for testing (primarily for endurance) on the ISS.

    CRS-9 is currently targeted for early 2016. it will be bringing up the second International Docking Adapter.

    all that said, i’d expect CRS-7 to bump to July, unless NASA really needs another spacesuit or something critical flown up there.

  • Larry J

    It’s always hard to say when these things will launch. There are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules. That said, as of today the only three resupply vehicles available for launch are the good old Progress (a very reliable system), the Japanese J-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Dragon.

    From what little I can find quickly online, it seems there is only one H-II scheduled for this year (August 17th). The next Progress is scheduled for April 28th with another scheduled for August 6th and yet another on October 22nd.

    The ESA isn’t going to launch any more of their ATV resupply vehicles and for the time being Orbital Sciences can’t launch theirs. It’s quite possible that the CRS-7 launch won’t be delayed very much (or at all) due to the Orbital Sciences situation, at least not a delay requested by NASA. We’ll see.

  • Kirk

    While Orbital says it will be 2016 before Antares is flying again, they’ve secured an Atlas flight to send up an enhanced Cygnus late this year. Wikipedia is giving it a November 19, 2015 date based on Spaceflight Now’s launch schedule.

    NSF just put up NASA lines up four additional CRS missions for Dragon and Cygnus suggesting that NASA has decided to pick up four additional flights (3 Dragon, 1 Cygnus) in a CRS round 1 extension, independent of the next CRS round which is supposed to be awarded in May 2015.

  • Larry J

    You’re right, I forgot about the Atlas flight scheduled for later this year. Still, there are lies, damned lies, and launch schedules…

  • Kirk

    And Spaceflight Now’s article from 10 days ago, Orbital ATK targets resumption of Antares launches in March 2016, quotes David Thompson (Orbital ATK’s CEO) as saying that they are on track for an October Atlas/Cygnus launch in October, but that the mission could slip to November due to space station traffic.

    “NASA may want us to go in October, or they may want us to delay until November based on other activities at the station, but we are aiming to be ready to go right about the first of October,” Thompson said.

  • windbourne

    Which is the way it should be done. Reward those that are doing a good job.

  • Kirk

    Orbital’s original CRS contract was for eight flights delivering 20 metric tons of cargo to the ISS. With the extended Cygnus and the greater performance of the Atlas (for ORB CRS-4) and of their Castor 30XL upper stage (for the remaining flights), they now say that they can accomplish their contractual commitment in seven flights (including the ill-fated ORB CRS-3). Has it been explicitly been stated if they actually expect to deliver 20 mt in six flights, or if they only make 20 mt by including the mass of the cargo lost on ORB CRS-3?