The pumped-up ISS mounting beam doing just fine

The pumped-up ISS mounting beam doing just fine

The first inflatable and suitable for people living in outer space, the beam engine, has proven to be effective. Since five months it has been docked several modules to the ISS. First interim conclusion: in the module, it is dry and warm, isolated better than you think.

How can you develop lighter spacecraft, to save fuel and to increase the amount of cargo? This question, which of course also applies to the aviation, driving the Aerospace engineers in the development of lightweight and sturdy materials and construction methods. Runs for five months on the international space station (ISS) an experiment that could open up new and important possibilities in the future.

The pumped-up ISS mounting beam doing just fineIn the second attempt, the development of beam work very well. For the first time there’s a kind of cultivation, which was folded up delivered, docked and then inflated. Beam, shorthand for Bigelow expandable activity modules is attempting to create another living and working space at all as easily. The module in a public-private partnership between NASA and Bigelow Aerospace and the beginning of April this year was developed for the ISS.

The beginning of the actual mission in late may, when beam should be unfolded to its full size, was not promising for the first time. The folds of the module, which combined had been stored for a year, tried to not completely open. At the second attempt a few days later managed to fully deploy.

And when was assured during a week of observation, that beam has no leaks, “astronaut Jeff Williams entered” the Interior of the new cultivation on June 6, 2016, for the first time.

Sensors gather data inside the envelope

Since then both Williams and astronaut are Kate Rubins regularly in the beam, which was docked at the tranquility module and the ISS low Earth orbit turns its rounds. Now all the data from the various sensors which are located in the beam and monitors both the astronauts and the ground crew at the Johnson Space Center in Houston about and is evaluated continuously.

The pumped-up ISS mounting beam doing just fineAccelerometer had already recorded the structural dynamics in the development of the module. Now, sensors record the temperature and give evidence, how strong is the insulation of material. Dosimeter to measure how much radiation which penetrates all the case, and a special system of sensors can detect any impacts from space debris on the outer shell.

ISS modules

The finding that it was initially warmer inside the beam was gratifying and a little surprising for the engineers than expected. That’s good, because beam itself has no special thermal insulation and is on the exchange of air with the ISS instructed. “If it was colder than expected, the risk of condensation would have increased”, said Steve Munday, the beam Manager in Houston. “We were very pleased when Jeff opened the flap and inside all was bone dry. Beam is the first device of its kind and we learn every day from this data.”


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