When you’re trying to deploy new technology in outer space that resembles—in the least scientific terms—a bounce house, there’s no room for error.
That’s why NASA on Thursday temporarily abandoned its plans to deploy an inflatable module attached to the International Space Station. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is a 3,000-pound, window-less expandable habitat made of metal, aluminum, and layers of soft fabric. It arrived at the orbital station last month to help scientists study living and working conditions in microgravity, which will eventually come in handy during long-term missions, like one to Mars. BEAM was scheduled to be inflated with air Thursday, but the compartment barely expanded after more than two hours, so NASA stopped the process.
Here’s how BEAM should look when it is fully expanded:
And how it looks now:
“Thanks for all your patience today, and we’ll hope for better luck tomorrow," Mission Control radioed, the AP reported.
“That's space business,” said NASA astronaut Jeffrey Williams, who Thursday morning opened a valve to allow air to enter BEAM.
NASA said it is working to figure out what went wrong. The operation could resume as early as Friday.