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NASA to make another attempt at opening BEAM habitat

NASA to make another attempt at opening BEAM habitat

USA

The US space agency, NASA, is expected to carry out another attempt to expand its inflatable habitat, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).

The move follows the failure – after several attempts on Thursday – to expand the 1,400kg habitat.

Flight controllers said the module had only expanded by a few inches thus the operation had to be terminated for the day.

The engineers are expected to carry out another test and another attempt to open the space habitat on Friday.

The plan is to get the module to inflate while attached to the International Space Station to provide a comfortable area for astronauts to live and work.

The BEAM which was successfully installed last month, needs to undergo testing to gauge how it holds up to the environment in space.

Made of impact-resistant, Kevlar-like materials and other fabrics, the lightweight habitats could save millions of dollars in launch costs compared with metal modules and it is expected to offer better radiation protection for astronauts.

Bigelow which is based in North Las Vegas, Nevada, tested two unmanned prototypes a decade ago, but BEAM is its first module that will host astronauts.

NASA is interested in expandable habitats to serve as living quarters for its crew during their three-year trips to and from Mars.