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Bigelow Expandable Activity Module Project

Project Introduction

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) project is a NASA-industry partnership with Bigelow Aerospace (BA) that is developing the first human-rated expandable (also called "inflatable") space habitat for demonstration on the International Space Station (ISS). The partnership offers NASA substantial cost savings for technology development and for future exploration missions that could use commercially provided expandable structures and habitats.

Technologies Within this Project

Technology Details: Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) Project

This technology is categorized as a hardware system for manned spaceflight

Description of technology:

The BEAM project advances expandable habitat technology by conducting a flight demonstration of a commercially designed expandable system to achieve Technology Readiness Level 9.0. The primary performance requirement is to demonstrate that the BEAM can successfully launch and berth to the ISS, deploy and expand, and maintain long-term pressure without leakage. The leak performance is defined as both short-term, immediately after deployment, and long-term, for the balance of the two-year mission....

Capabilities provided:

The BEAM project advances human-rated expandable habitat technology by launching, berthing, expanding, and testing a full-scale module on the ISS. Upon installation, the BEAM will allow for periodic, temporary ISS crew ingress. The BEAM Project develops structural and mechanical system requirements for a human-rated expandable module in an external orbital environment and verifies those requirements. It also provides technology demonstration data on integrated expandable structure deployment on ...

Potential applications:

Expandable structures have the potential to meet current and future NASA requirements for deep space exploration deployable habitat systems. This includes habitable modules in orbit and at lunar or Martian bases. A primary BEAM project goal is to help meet deep space exploration habitat needs at a fraction of the cost of in-house development. Expandable modules also provide the advantages of lower mass and low launch volume relative to metallic habitat modules, thus simplifying requirements for ...

Anticipated Benefits

Benefits to NASA funded missions

The NASA-Bigelow partnership enables both partners to learn how to develop, launch, install and test expandable structures, all at substantial cost savings relative to either party doing these things alone. The BEAM Project develops structural and mechanical system requirements for a human-rated expandable module in an external orbital environment and verifies those requirements. After BEAM installation on the ISS, NASA will gain valuable insight into the performance of an expandable module in orbit.

Benefits to NASA unfunded & planned missions

By partnering with Bigelow Aerospace, NASA supports the development of a potential commercial provider of expandable structures and habitats. This partnership and development can offer NASA substantial cost savings for future exploration missions that could use commercially provided structures.

Benefits to the commercial space industry

By partnering with Bigelow Aerospace, NASA supports the development of a potential commercial provider of expandable structures and habitats. This can create new markets for international space travel opportunities, microgravity research, manufacturing and tourism.

Benefits to the nation

This technology can support the nation's goals for human long-term space exploration and the development of new commercial markets.

Success Stories

Success Story AES BEAM 2015-08-28

Success Story AES BEAM 2015-08-28

U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

NASA Organizations Performing Work Role Location
  • Johnson Space Center (JSC)
Lead Center Houston, TX
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Supporting Center Pasadena, CA
  • Langley Research Center (LaRC)
Supporting Center Hampton, VA
  • NASA Headquarters (HQ)
Supporting Center Washington, DC

U.S. States with Work:

 
U.S. States and Territories with Work on this Project
California Nevada
Colorado Texas
District of Columbia Virginia
Other Organizations Performing Work Type of Organization
  • ATA 
Commercial Company
  • Bigelow Aerospace 
Commercial Company
  • Boeing 
Commercial Company
  • Jacobs 
Commercial Company
  • Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) 
Commercial Company
  • SpaceX 
Commercial Company
  • Wyle Laboratories 
Commercial Company
Contributing Partners Type of Organization
  • TASI
International Organization

Organizational Responsibility

Responsible Mission Directorate:

Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Lead Center:

Johnson Space Center (JSC)

Responsible Program:

Advanced Exploration Systems Program

Project Management

Program Director:

  • Jason Crusan

Program Executive:

  • BARRY EPSTEIN

Project Manager:

  • Stephen Munday

Principal Investigator:

  • Gerard Valle

Project Technology Areas

Primary:

  • Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing (TA 12)
    • Materials (TA 12.1)
    • Flexible Material Systems (TA 12.1.3)
    • Structural Textile Material (TA 12.1.3.1)
    • Structural Textile Material (TA 12.1.3.1)

Secondary:

  • Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems (TA 6)
    • Environmental Control and Life Support Systems and Habitation Systems (TA 6.1)
    • Environmental Control and Life Support Systems and Habitation Systems (TA 6.1)

Additional Technology Areas:

  • Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing (TA 12)
    • Structures (TA 12.2)
    • Lightweight Concepts (TA 12.2.1)
    • Composite and Inflatable Habitat (TA 12.2.1.3)
    • Composite and Inflatable Habitat (TA 12.2.1.3)
    • Lander and Surface Habitat (TA 12.2.1.6)
    • Lander and Surface Habitat (TA 12.2.1.6)

Project Duration

Start Date: Jan 2013

End Date: May 2018

Project Technology Maturity

  • Start
  • Current
  • Estimated End
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

Click the items below to see more detail.

1 Publication

1 Success Story

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