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The competition heats up: Bigelow Aerospace’s BEAM inflatable module, built in only three years for a mere $17 million, was installed on ISS this past weekend.
BEAM will allow Bigelow and NASA to demonstrate the capabilities of the inflatable habitat on ISS. It is expected to perform for at least two years of testing on the Station, providing a key shake out of the technology that is likely to play a major role in human deep space exploration. “(BEAM) will be a great way to test out the thermal characteristics of this new type of module, along with its radiation protection,” added Kopra. “It’s going to be a neat thing.”
Following its test period, the SSRMS will remove the module from the Station before releasing it Nadir (Earth-facing). The module will eventually re-enter around a year later.