Astronauts enter privately built BEAM module

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Led by American Jeff Williams, two astronauts opened the hatch and entered Bigelow’s BEAM inflatable module on ISS today.

Williams officially opened the hatch at 08:47 UTC. Along with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, Williams entered BEAM for the first time to collect an air sample and begin downloading data from sensors on the dynamics of BEAM’s expansion. The astronaut reported that the interior of BEAM looks “pristine”. However, he added the temperature was on the cool side – with Houston adding they recorded 44F as the temperature at bulkhead – but no condensation was visible. He then took air samples, as is the procedure for entering a new module.

They will install interior sensors over the next two days, and then shut the hatch. The module will then remain closed for most of its planned two year stay on ISS to test its operation in space.

The article also includes some nice details about the possible uses of Bigelow’s much larger B330 modules, two of which are under construction right now.

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