NASA reports that the inflatable module was attached to the International Space Station successfully over the weekend with the help of an external robotic arm.
Dubbed the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM for short, the module is filled with air and kept at a constant pressure to ensure it will be habitable.
Over the time it is attached to the International Space Station, it will remain air-locked from the rest of the International Space Station during the testing period. This will prevent any leaks that could occur from posing any risk to the rest of the International Space Station.
During its testing, astronauts will monitor its performance. They’ll keep a close eye on oxygen levels, temperature levels, radiation levels, and check up often on how its material handles impacts from small space junk. It'll be used only for storage for now, rather than as a habitation module.
In the event that a small puncture does occur, the inflatable module is designed to collapse on itself rather than pose any threat to the International Space Station.
Inflatable modules are step in the right direction for space travel, because they are easily compacted to take up a small volume of space in the trunks of the spacecrafts that deliver them.
In fact, these kinds of inhabitable modules may be useful for long-term missions on other planets, such as Mars because many of them can be packed into a small storage compartment. Moreover, along with 3D Printers and materials, astronauts could have a highly-portable habitation concept in their hands.
BEAM will remain attached to the International Space Station for two years for testing. After the testing phase is complete, BEAM will be inspected and NASA will make any necessary modifications to better construct the device for its needs.
Source: NASA, Tumblr