BEAM Fully Expanded & Pressurized

BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)
BEAM module (Credit: NASA TV)

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams successfully expanded and pressurized Bigelow Aerospace’s BEAM module today. It was a long procedure that took more than 7.5 hours. The module will now go through an 80-hour leak check and other tests before astronauts enter it for the first time in about a week.


  • Vladislaw

    If you goggle beam and look at the images of what it looked like fully expanded.. and this image… it would seem they were totally different … no publicity shots looked like this.,

  • Yeah it looks kind of amateurish compared to the artists images, like bits are falling off. Still am impressive bit of kit though

  • P.K. Sink

    Right you are. Kinda reminds me of a Mexican party dress. Tequila anyone?

  • Yeah, all the shiny, Bigelow-emblazoned shots are replaced by a bunch of thermal blankets. She might not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.

    Congrats to both the Bigelow and TransHab teams, this was a long time in the making.

  • P.K. Sink

    An armadillo maybe?

  • P.K. Sink

    And congrats to SpaceX with it’s handy dandy trunk

  • Terry Rawnsley

    I wonder who gets to go outside to pretty it up?

  • Paul_Scutts

    It will be interesting to obtain the internal environment data over the coming months, in particular, the radiation counts. Congrats to Bigelow and SpaceX.

  • Yeah, I was SUPER relieved when the Falcon 9 that went down only had the Planet Labs flock and the new docking adapter (NASA had spare parts) and NOT the BEAM module.

  • P.K. Sink

    This project has been a nail-biter every step of the way. But now we have another drone ship landing of a reusable rocket, and a commercial space station prototype expansion in just the last two days. Gotta love these billionaire space cowboys. They’re sure giving us geeks a good show.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    It would have expanded and extended a lot quicker if they had used Viagra. LOL

  • Paul_Scutts

    Absolutely spot on, Vladislaw, it’s like it’s all covered with huge “post it” notes. Regards, Paul.

  • Roncie Weatherington

    Not quite sure this image is “fully expanded.” Astronaut quoted length a little short of what Bigelow specs state. It also looks like there are 3 or 4 rows of folded layers on the outer end where the retaining stitches still need to pop. Once that happens, it might look more like artist rendition.

  • Obediah Headstrong

    As expected: an awful looking piece of cloth. Give me metal!

  • Oscar_Femur

    This paragraph from the article on sounds like it is, in fact, not fully expanded.

    From the beginning of operations at 9:04 a.m. EDT, the module added 61
    inches in length to reach 67 inches beyond its packed configuration and
    an internal diameter of 127 inches. Its final length will be 158 inches,
    and its final diameter will be 127 inches.

  • Oscar_Femur

    Don’t forget the replacement SEMU and lots of EVA hardware.

  • Roncie Weatherington

    That’s what it looks like.
    NASA says that strangely enough, the long chain polymer mylar between the various material layers in the “wall” sandwich does a better job at attenuating radiation than metal.

  • windbourne

    Go ahead, I will take cloth by far. That beam is much safer than the metal.

  • Paul_Scutts

    I hear what you’re saying, Obediah, but, as Roncie and windbourne have explained, metal is not the best type of material to have the external walls of your habitat constructed from in space, especially the further you get away from the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field. Think of it this way, parts of outer space can be bathed with microwave radiation and what happens when you have exposed metal within a working microwave oven? Regards, Paul.

  • Spacetech

    It looks like a space Pineapple.

  • Yeah, you want low molecular weight material to shield against radiation (as in all the hydrogen in polymers). Metal can’t compete in that regard. The interesting thing is that when I’ve asked radiation professionals, they say this fact was experimentally determined and there is still no theory to explain this.

  • Jeff2Space

    Form follows function. But yea, it would have been nice if the computer simulations released to the public looked more like the actual deployment.

  • P.K. Sink

    It kinda reminds me of a blind date gone wrong. Doesn’t look anything like the picture. But I’m sure that it has a lovely personality. (Check please.)

  • Christopher James Huff

    That would be an odd thing to say. There’s a very direct and well-understood relationship between the mass of the nucleus a charged particle is bouncing off of and the resulting braking radiation ( produced. Heavy metal shielding produces x-rays that require more shielding to block. Even the relatively-light aluminum produces some.

  • Michael Grigoni

    By now you all must know that work on inflation was suspended at the end of shift yesterday. Watch NASA TV now (2PM CDT) for coverage of today’s inflation efforts

  • windbourne

    not just absorption.
    THink of high-energy gamma as being a bb that was shot from an extreme rail-gun. Problem is, that when it hits the metal, the BB will be stopped, but now, you have large slow radiation that is blasted inwards. Imagine that the BB causes shotputs as well as cannon balls to be kicked off. These will be slower, and not as energetic, but they are far far more likely to hit something and keep hitting.
    So, that high energy radiation is actually converted to a number of wicked stuff.

    BTW, the fabric probably only absorbs about 15-25% AT BEST. Probably less. Still, the metal can absorbs nothing. It creates more damage rather than helps.

  • windbourne

    LOL. yeah, somewhat.

  • duheagle

    Full suit of plate armor or FBI ballistic vest. I know which one I’d choose.

  • therealdmt

    Whenever I see this picture, I keep thinking they should have the ‘Sanford & Son’ theme song playing in the background…

  • Terry Stetler

    Correct. Christopher James Huff has it spot on. IIRC polymer shielding will be used in Orion, and it’s a safe bet any commercial vehicles that venture beyond LEO.