NASA’s attempts to inflate a unique new module on the International Space Station have stopped for today, the space agency announced this morning, because the module only inflated "a few inches."
The new module, called BEAM, was supposed to be expanded early this morning. But NASA announced that the operation did not go as planned.
“Flight controllers informed NASA astronaut Jeff Williams that BEAM had only expanded a few inches in both length and diameter at the time the operation ceased for the day,” NASA said in a blog item. The expandable new room, developed by Bigelow Aerospace, is supposed to eventually be about 13 feet long and 10 feet in diameter.
“Engineers are meeting to determine a forward course of action, with the possibility that another attempt could be made as early as Friday morning,” NASA added.
In a subsequent blog item, NASA explained that it was analyzing why the operation did not go as they hoped it would. "NASA is working closely with Bigelow Aerospace to understand why its module did not fully expand today as planned," the space agency said.
The roughly 3,000-pound BEAM was lifted up to the ISS in April on a SpaceX rocket. NASA is interested in expandable modules because they are smaller than traditional modules, so take up less space in a rocket, and could possibly be used on a Mars mission someday.