ISS' expandable module has a defend that protects it from particles
You had a variety of questions once we wrote about NASA gearing up to inflate BEAM on the ISS. Does it inflate like a balloon? What if it will get hit by micrometeoroids then? Does it shield towards radiation? Whereas there are lots of issues we cannot know for positive till the top of BEAM’s two-yr testing, NASA’s and Bigelow Aerospace’s Reddit AMA and Fb Q&A might reply some Q’s floating round your head. To start out with, the staff clarified that BEAM is not an “inflatable.” Its partitions do not stretch like a balloon — they’re extremely stiff and are “a number of occasions stronger per weight than metals generally utilized in area purposes.” When the ISS crew expands the module on Thursday, the method might be extra precisely described as “unfolding” slightly than “inflating.”
The group added that the module has a thick layer of Kevlar-like supplies that acts as its particles defend. If a micrometeoroid hits it, as an example, it turns into trapped in these laters with out penetrating the construction during. Bigelow Aerospace stated the corporate carried out hypervelocity impression testing right here on Earth by pelting projectiles flying at a velocity of seven kilometers per second at it. Based mostly on the staff’s exams, they concluded that its particles defend is as robust as, if not higher than, the area station’s particles defend.
Apart from answering questions concerning the module’s toughness, the workforce additionally revealed that BEAM can last as long as 5 or extra years in outer area. The experimental mannequin, which is as massive as a small bed room, cannot be reused and may solely be deployed as soon as. Additionally, astronauts will not need to put on spacesuits once they verify in on experiments inside BEAM and assess its situation twice a yr.
The ISS crew will assist the group gather knowledge on radiation, thermal and micrometeoroid impacts. If the module proves to be as robust because the workforce believes it’s, then expandable habitats like Bigelow Aerospace’s greater mannequin referred to as B330 could possibly be used on Mars or as spacecraft’s dwelling areas for deep area missions sooner or later. NASA TV is airing BEAM’s enlargement reside on Thursday, Might twenty sixth, beginning at 5:30AM Japanese time. The area station crew will introduce air into the module via a small port, after which they will activate BEAMs’ inner tank system. It might take as much as two hours for the module to utterly unfold, although, so you might need to have some snacks on the prepared.
— Tory Bruno (@torybruno) Might 24, 2016