This spring, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch, delivering additional supplies and cargo to the International Space Station. Onboard will be a special new habitat NASA is planning to test: the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM). The prototype will remain attached to the Tranquility module for two years, during which time scientists will study BEAM to see if it can create a habitable space for astronauts while also withstanding the extreme conditions of outer space.
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Developed by a company called Bigelow Aerospace, BEAM is a capsule that, when inflated, measures 10.5-by-13 feet (3.2-by-4 meters). It was designed to stand up to space debris, solar and cosmic radiation, atomic oxygen, and other challenges that come with space travel. Given it weighs less and is relatively compact, BEAM could be the next frontier in astronauts' living space and laboratories.
NASA released an animation of what BEAM will look like.