April 11, 2016

"SpaceX has made good on a high-priority delivery: the world's first inflatable room for astronauts."

ABC News: A SpaceX Dragon cargo ship arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday, two days after launching from Cape Canaveral. Station astronauts used a robot arm to capture the Dragon, orbiting 250 miles above Earth. by Marcia Dunn via AP

'The Dragon holds 7,000 pounds of freight, including the soft-sided compartment built by Bigelow Aerospace. The pioneering pod — packed tightly for launch — should swell to the size of a small bedroom once filled with air next month.

'It will be attached to the space station this Saturday, but won't be inflated until the end of May. The technology could change the way astronauts live in space: NASA envisions inflatable habitats in a couple decades at Mars, while Bigelow Aerospace aims to launch a pair of inflatable space stations in just four years for commercial lease.

'For now, the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module — BEAM for short — will remain mostly off-limits to the six-man station crew. NASA wants to see how the experimental chamber functions, so the hatch will stay sealed except when astronauts enter a few times a year to collect measurements and swap out sensors.'

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