Inflatable module on the ISS failed

NASA yesterday stopped the first attempt, the new module beam on the ISS to inflate. Iinstalled in April on the space station, should be tested for two years. After the failed attempt, NASA engineers search for the causes for the breakdown.

It could have been so beautiful spectacular: the new module beam, that on April 16, 2016 successfully to the international space station ISS and there was to have been docked, should unfold yesterday to its full size. 1.74 m to 3.96 m length flexible walls should stretch, resulting in a 16 m 3 large room.

Unfortunately, the first attempt to develop beam, failed yesterday. The engine increased by only a few centimeters the attempt was eventually canceled. Now research is pending.

Only a few centimeters beam

The Bigelow expandable activity module, short beam, was in April at the Tranquility module of the ISS mounted been. From there, beam should be developed and tested for two years. US Astronaut Jeffrey Williams opened a valve, yesterday to increase the pressure in the Chamber by recessed air that should unfold slowly to life size, which is about four times as much as in a collapsed state. Around two hours trying to closely monitored by ground control until he had to be canceled because beam had become only a few centimeters.

Inflatable module on the ISS failed
Artwork: so it should look, if beam is fully inflated. Photo: Bigelow Aerospace

NASA supports the developed by Bigelow Aerospace and 1360 kg module by the also private aerospace firm SpaceX to the ISS was linked with about €16 million. The idea of folded up into space to transport space modules and to unfold, until there is not free even longer track. The space saved in the payload is huge and could be a significant factor especially for planned Mars missions.

Can beam withstand the conditions of outer space?

The windowless beam consists of two metal plates at the ends, a construction made of aluminium and several layers of soft fabric-like material with a system of voids between. For two years, the astronauts are to beam ISS about three to four times a year each for some hours visit and measurements make or save the measurement data.

On April 16 was already beam by robot
On April 16 was already beam by robot arm on the international space station (ISS) mounted. Photo: Nasa

This beam is equipped with several sensors, which measure such as, extent to which the radiation inside the module with the time accumulated. Other sensors check whether there is a microbial growth in the soft case. Also has the module so that it can once be sure as accommodation for the people, strong temperature fluctuation and flying debris to withstand can. At the end of the test phase will beam decoupled and burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere.