On April 8th, a SpaceX Dragon spaceship delivered a load of cargo to the Int. Space Station. An important item in that cargo was an experimental habitat module in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the Dragon. This module is called the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module or BEAM. It was built by Bigelow Aerospace, which is developing expandable structures that can be launched in compressed mode and then expanded to a size much bigger than could be launched directly.
On April 16th, astronauts aboard the ISS used a robotic arm to extract the BEAM from the Dragon and attached it to a ISS module. Here is a time lapse video showing the extraction and berthing:
This Thursday, astronauts will carefully release air into the BEAM to expand it to its full volume. The process will be webcast on NASA TV starting at 5:30 a.m. EDT: Watch NASA Deploy First Expandable Habitat at Space Station – NASA.
Here is a video showing how you can create an origami version of BEAM:
Download the printable BEAM module paper and crew procedures with full instructions: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sta… to view or download the ‘crew procedures,’ which contain step by step instructions on how to print and fold your BEAM module. This video will walk you through folding a paper module in real-time.
Here is an infographic from NASA showing some of the essential features of BEAM: