SpaceX launched their ISS resupply rocket on Friday. Despite being a fascinating feat on its own, the mission had one particularly interesting piece of cargo. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) will spend the next two years undergoing tests in space. It very well could serve as the first ever space hotel. Here are five hospitable facts you should know.
1. LIVING IT UP AT THE HOTEL SPACEX
Living it up the Hotel SpaceX may someday be a possibility, but not at least for a while. The inflatable space module known as BEAM will have to undergo two years of testing in space in order to see its potential for human functionality. Only then can you call up the captain, and say please bring me my wine. Of course, he’ll respond by saying we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine. Now that the Eagles reference is out of the way, we shall move on.
2. BEAM HAS A RADIATION SHIELD
Space, although beautiful, is a dangerous place. If the lack of oxygen, lonely ISS Russians, asteroids or aliens don’t kill you first, then the radiation will surely get to you. Thankfully, Hotel SpaceX will have a flexible material designed to shield humans from radiation. The Kevlar-like design has multiple layers of fabric and closed-cell foam. These vinyl polymer foams are usually found in labs for radiation shield garments and now, they will get their test in space.
3. THE RIGHT STUFF
In addition to providing radiation protection, the BEAM will have to pass a number of other objectives before any fantasy of a space hotel can be solidified. For one, SpaceX has to demonstrate a successful launch and deployment of the inflatable module. From there, astronauts will have to implement folding and packaging techniques and install a venting system. While in space, astronauts will have to test thermal, structural, mechanical and long term leak performance before any more steps can taken.
4. A SECOND BEAM TO COME
Bigelow plans to build a second BEAM module for use as an airlock on its Bigelow Space Station. The inflatable nature would provide space for up to three crew or tourists to spacewalk. This is compared with a maximum of two that can currently operate outside of the ISS. It’s unknown whether SpaceX will be delivering this module, but considering their most recent success, the odds are good.
5. DON’T EXPECT A VIEW
A room with a view usually makes for a good hotel, but don’t expect that on the BEAM. It will not have windows. That’s alright, you probably don’t want to see the beauty of Earth from space anyway. Might as well just sit on your cosmic space bed playing on your iPhone. Actually, you won’t be able to do that either. The Beam will have no internal power. Sounds like a great vacation doesn’t it? Perhaps you’d be better off taking that weekend getaway to Gary, Indiana after all.
— NASA (@NASA) April 5, 2016