Tuesday, June 7, 2016

That New Habitat Smell

Click the link to look inside the BEAM. Video source: NASA Johnson YouTube channel.

Another first for NewSpace.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams yesterday entered the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), the first time a person has entered an expandable habitat on orbit.

BEAM has a volume of 16 cubic meters, or about 212 cubic feet. It's roughly comparable to a small bedroom.

As noted in the NASA video, BEAM was delivered last April in the trunk of the SpaceX cargo Dragon. That was another first — the first time a private company's space module was delivered to orbit by another private company's cargo ship.

In March 2013, I wrote a blog article, “The Origins of Commercial Space.” The NewSpace era as we know it began with a report issued by President George W. Bush's Commission on Implementation of United Space Exploration Policy. Titled A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover, the commissioners saw fit to dedicate an entire chapter to the subject, “Building a Robust Space Industry.”

The commission wrote in that chapter's preface:

The Commission finds that sustaining the long-term exploration of the solar system requires a robust space industry that will contribute to national economic growth, produce new products through the creation of new knowledge, and lead the world in invention and innovation. This space industry will become a national treasure.

That report was released in June 2004. Twelve years later, the national treasure is on orbit.

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