NASA successfully puffs up its inflatable space habitat

It took several hours, but this second test run paid off.

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Second time's the charm. Following a less-than-successful initial test run, NASA and Bigelow Aerospace have successfully inflated the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module attached to the International Space Station. It took several hours (the team didn't want any movement that could destabilize the station), but the experimental pod now extends nearly 5.6 feet out and 10.6 feet across. That's not the full size (it'll ultimately be 7 feet long), but it's hopefully smooth sailing from here on out.

You'll have to wait a while before anyone steps inside this cocoon-like pod, mind you. The next objective is to pressurize the habitat, and it'll be roughly a week before the ISS crew gets to try it out. Still, this is a big step toward more livable spacecraft that use inflatable habitats to offer some much-needed breathing room.

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