NASA tries again to inflate spare room in space

WASHINGTON (TIP): Nasa tried again Saturday to inflate an add-on room at the International Space Station, after the first attempt ran into problems due to too much friction.

Efforts to inflate the flexible habitat, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (Beam), got under way at about 9am.

Space scientists monitoring the expansion at mission control in Houston, Texas, early Saturday expressed optimism that they were having early success this time around, as images on Nasa television showed the module slowly expanding after receiving three initial bursts of air.

“Beam (is) continuing to slowly expand,” said Nasa spokesman Daniel Huot.

“Everything going smoothly so far this morning, seeing good expansion both along the length and the diameter of BEAM. The pressure is well within what was expected.”

Nasa is testing expandable habitats astronauts might use on the Moon or Mars in the coming decades. Operations to expand the module were led by Nasa astronaut Jeff Williams. A first attempt on Thursday was not successful. Nasa said that after a series of leak checks and other preparations, space station astronauts will enter the habitat through the station’s Tranquility module.

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