New space habitat technology, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), was attached to the International Space Station on April 16th. When inflated in May, the BEAM will provide 565 cubic feet of room for astronauts to move around in.
It’s not just hot air – the flexibility of inflatable space habitats is important as it allows them to stay compact during launch and then expand in space. Experts aren’t sure how the BEAM will fare in the conditions of outer space, so they’ve installed sensors to gather data about the station. When the BEAM is no longer in use, it will detach and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.