The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module Attached to ISS
Thanks to the successful launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9, the International Space Station (ISS) now has its very own Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM).
(Artist's rendering of BEAM attached to ISS
The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) hitched a ride to the space station on Friday's SpaceX launch. The module rode folded up in the trunk of the Dragon capsule, but after it gets attached to the space station, air from the ISS will expand the flexible structure into a room that's large enough for a person to stand up in--roughly 10 feet in diameter by 13 feet long.
Beginning on Saturday at 5:30 am Eastern, the station's robotic arm will pull BEAM out of the Dragon's rear end, then slowly attach it to a station port.
(BEAM installed! )
As far as I know, I'd go through the history of this idea in the following way. In Flatlander (1967), Larry Niven wrote about inflatable expansion bubble (scroll down).
In his 1961 novel Fall of Mooniest, Arthur C. Clarke described an Igloo Inflatable Moon Habitat.
Werner von Braun created a cool flexible inflatable space station idea in 1952.
In 1955, Philip K Dick described an Inflatable Lunar Resort in Solar Lottery.
In his 1951 Asteroid of Fear, Raymond Z. Gallun described an airtight tent.
Also in 1951, Murray Leinster wrote about an Inflatable Air Lock in Space Tug.
And finally, in 1939 Robert Heinlein described a valley roofed over with synthetic spider silk.
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