The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) was unsealed today by the crew of the International Space Station (ISS) without incident. At 4:47 am EDT, NASA astronaut Jeff Williams, with the assistance of Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka, opened the hatch of the experimental habitat module as part of a two-year project to assess the technology of the inflatable unit.
Wearing goggles and filter masks as protection against any dust or debris that may have come adrift in the experimental module, Williams and Skripochka entered to take air samples. They then inspected the condition of the structure, which they described as "pristine," though cold without any signs of condensation. They also installed air ducts, and downloaded data from BEAM's onboard sensors. Having completed their tasks, Williams resealed the module as a safety precaution.
According to NASA, the astronauts will re-enter the BEAM several times on Tuesday and Wednesday to install and check additional sensors and gear. Because the module is experimental, it will remain sealed for the next two years when not being inspected and will not be used for habitation or other activities.