NASA and Bigelow release details of expandable module for ISS

January 16, 2013 3:15 pm Eastern | by Clark Lindsey, Managing Editor

The NASA/Bigelow event today formally introduced the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM):

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Comments (5)

Ken Murphy
Had I the capital I'd buy a second-hand BEAM already in orbit once NASA's done with it.

The key point for me was: "It will be delivered in the ... SpaceX Dragon cargo delivery mission". If SpaceX can do it for NASA, who else can they do it for?

The next elements are a crewed Dragon and a Universal Docking Node. Then things are going to get real interesting.

16th January 2013 10:16pm
Bill Hensley
As I understand from reading, it must be jettisoned after two years to make way for the commercial crew vehicles coming in 2017.

The value to NASA may be getting a chance to work with Bigelow as a contractor, and getting access to performance data. $18 million looks cheap to NASA. ISS is probably just a target of convenience. They may be more interested in potential future applications.

16th January 2013 3:33pm
Coastal Ron
I agree Bill. Since it doesn't look like there will be an easy spot to put a future Bigelow module to expand the ISS, this is likely testing out future uses of the Bigelow modules, like for an EML outpost, the proposed Nautilus-X, and even lunar huts. And while the Gensis test units have been in space for a long time, they are not manned, so NASA is getting validation for use in HSF applications.
16th January 2013 9:54pm
Andrew Platzer
It sounds like this is solely a test module to gauge 2 year performance but it won't be used for everyday activities as part of the station - except perhaps storage?. Given the current Genesis II module has been in orbit for over 5 1/2 years without failing (as far as I know), this test seems unnecessary. While it's nice that Bigelow is getting the contract, I'm not sure what an additional 2 year evaluation is going to prove that Genesis I and II haven't already proven. Is this a way to funnel Read More
16th January 2013 2:37pm
Clark S. Lindsey
$18M is a small percentage of the several hundred million that Bigelow has pledge to spend on BA. I think it is more a case of wanting to have an endorsement from NASA and the ISS collaboration, which they can use when trying to sell leases on their own space station to sovereign clients.

I'm surprised they are planning to dump BEAM after 2 years. Storage space is a useful thing to have. Perhaps they will swap it with a BA330 module. (There is a limited number of docking ports.)

16th January 2013 3:17pm
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