LOS ANGELES – A prototype of an inflatable space station module has successfully expanded and deployed its solar panels after being launched into orbit, a private developer said.
The 15-foot-long module's flexible exterior was folded around an inner core for launch and had to expand from a diameter of about 6.2 feet to 8 feet. The solar panels also had to extend to supply power.
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Both actions were confirmed, said spokesman Chris Reed.
Genesis II also transmitted pictures of itself in orbit.
Bigelow Aerospace is privately developing the technology with the intent to place a manned space station in orbit by 2015. Modules would be linked to form a station.
Its first test module, Genesis I, was launched last year. It carries 13 cameras and recently transmitted images from space showing the smoke plumes from this week's forest fire at Lake Tahoe, Calif., and a May wildfire on the state's Santa Catalina Island.
Genesis II carries 22 cameras and new systems that weren't aboard its predecessor.