After a failed first test, NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have just successfully inflated their Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, the inflatable space module that promises to be the future of space habitation.
Their first test really wasn't all that great. On May 26, the module was inflated with air and was supposed to expand. Except it didn't. That's because after being packed for a long time, the friction between fabrics increased pressure to unpredicted levels, preventing the module from fully inflating.
Long story short, BEAM couldn't get inflated.
Now, twitter posts by Bigelow and the ISS confirm that the module has been successfully inflated. After several hours of work, BEAM now extends nearly 5.6 feet out and 10.6 feet across, with its maximum length at 7 feet.
Manual expansion of the BEAM is complete. @Astro_Jeff prepping the BEAM for pressurization
— Bigelow Aerospace (@BigelowSpace) May 28, 2016
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) May 28, 2016
But don't hold your breath just yet. The thing actually needs to be pressurized, and the guys at the ISS will be doing that after a week.