In an attempt to speed up their mission of exploring Mars in the future, NASA was supposed to deploy the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), super large expandable tent attached to the International Space Station (ISS). However, their launch was halted following the failure of BEAM to swell accurately. NASA opted to postpone the mission for one day, to diagnose what could have been wrong with their inflatable.
This was quite a setback as proving the capability of the technology would have brought the lunar habitat, the Mars mission or the cislunar habitat, a little closer or a pinch closer to reality. BEAM was expected to swell from 7.75 in diameter and 7.09 feet long to 10.5 feet in diameter and 13.16 feet long. Nobody knew exactly how the inflatable tent would swell in microgravity just as no one anticipated that two hours of pumping who result only to an expansion of its width.
According to BEAM Program Deputy Director, BEAM was designed with the capability to go up, shaped like a large hockey puck or may be a giant birthday cake, swelling to a habitat that’s about 4 time its size. Whenever BEAM got past the atmosphere without all its fuels, then it could use light as its supplies. It is practically a technology that turns cloths/garment into something that can protect the human body from the cold space vacuum.
Wired reports that BEAM engineers faced numerous challenges including ensuring that the high-tech inflatable was airtight and protecting against radiation, did not mess with the space station, and that all the fabrics would be off-gassing. However, NASA plan to look into features like inflatable airlocks to diagnose the cause of inflation failure, to get back into making sure Mars-bound astronaut of the future do not end up consuming potatoes grown in their own poop.