NASA called off the inflation of the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) habitat, which was scheduled on May 26.
The space team was in the middle of inflating the International Space Station (ISS) extension when flight controllers informed astronaut Jeff WIlliams that the habitat had expanded by only a few inches in both diameter and length.
"During about two hours of expansion, BEAM's length and diameter did not increase as expected with the increased internal pressure, and teams decided to stand down from operations for the day," NASA writes.
The inflatable habitat is said to have a full measurement of 10 feet by 13 feet, or approximately the size of a small bedroom.
Meanwhile, the ISS crew are safe, and the ISS and BEAM were confirmed to be in a stable state.
Discussions On The Way
Instead of performing another attempt to expand the inflatable habitat as initially planned, experts are going to have a meeting on the morning of May 27 to discuss what could have gone wrong in Thursday's mission.
The engineers are to perform overnight monitoring to determine structural changes that may have led to either lower internal pressure or bigger volume. Ground personnel are also expected to check any alterations in the shape of the module and take further pressure readings.These things will be crucial as experts discuss possible options, moving forward.
The meeting will be held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.
What Is BEAM?
BEAM is an experimental inflatable habitat that docks with the ISS. Such expandable habitat is meant to give extra room for space mission crew and for other experiments. This technology enables astronauts to have bigger workspace without having to launch an entire spacecraft to space.
The first testing was said to gauge how inflatable habitats would fare in space, specifically how it could provide protection from solar radiation, space debris and the extreme conditions in space.
BEAM was launched on April 8 via SpaceX Dragon from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
Photo: NASA Johnson | Flickr