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Astronaut's first impression of space station's inflatable room: 'cold'

Brrr. Astronauts might want to bundle up before spending too much time in the International Space Station's nifty new expandable room.

Astronaut Jeff Williams enters BEAM for the first time.


The astronauts on the International Space Station now have their own version of a bouncy castle. The newest addition to the station is the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, an inflatable room made to provide extra living and working space. NASA's Jeff Williams and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka entered the room for the first time on Monday and shared some first impressions.

Williams reports that the interior of the module looks pristine and is cold inside. He checked for any evidence of condensation, but found none. Williams installed air ducts before exiting and shutting the hatch. BEAM is scheduled to stay attached to the ISS for two years in order to study its durability in the space environment.

NASA calls BEAM "the first human-rated expandable structure in space." BEAM had a rough beginning, failing to fully inflate on the first try. A second attempt worked just fine. The crew spent a week checking the module's structural integrity and looking for leaks. It passed inspection and is now ready to report to duty as a functioning part of the space station.