The Inflatable Space Station is a Success. Bob Zimmerman,

Nov 23, 2016, 07:14 AM

11-22-2016 (Photo: This artist's concept depicts the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), constructed by Bigelow Aerospace, attached to the International Space Station (ISS). The BEAM will be launched to the space station later this year. Credits: Bigelow Aerospace) Twitter: @BatchelorShow

The Inflatable Space Station is a Success. Bob Zimmerman,

NASA has released an update on the privately built inflatable BEAM module that is presently attached to ISS and is under-going two years of testing.

NASA and Bigelow Aerospace are pleased to report that, overall, BEAM is operating as expected and continues to produce valuable data. Structural engineers at NASA JSC confirmed that BEAM deployment loads upon the space station were very small, and continue to analyze the module’s structural data for comparison with ground tests and models. Researchers at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, have found no evidence of large debris impacts in the DIDS data to date—good news for any spacecraft. And radiation researchers at JSC have found that the dosage due to Galactic Cosmic Rays in BEAM is similar to other space station modules, and continue to analyze local “trapped” radiation particles, particularly from the South Atlantic Anomaly, to help determine additional shielding requirements for long-duration exploration missions. None of this is a surprise. It seems to me that this testing program is a bit overdone, since NASA never did anything like this in orbit for its own modules. What I think is really happening is that the two-year test of Bigelow’s module was required politically within NASA because there were too many people there opposed to using a privately-built module. I also suspect that NASA got further pressure from the contractors, such as Boeing, who had previously owned this business, and did not want the competition from Bigelow. Thus, despite the fact that Bigelow has already launched two test modules of its own and proved the viability of its designs, it was forced by NASA to do an additional test under NASA’s supervision in order to squelch this opposition.

“…The Boeing Company has applications before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for the approval of two spacecraft constellations that could involve the launch of more than 3,000 communications satellites. The company’s first application, filed in June, seeks to develop a non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) fixed satellite service (FSS) system operating in the 37.5-42.5 GHz (space-to-Earth) and the 47.2-50.2 and 50.4-52.4 GHz (Earth-to-space) bands, which are collectively known as the “V-band”. The spacecraft would orbit at an altitude of 1,200 km. “Boeing seeks authority to launch the NGSO System in progressive stages that would include an Initial Deployment configuration of 1,396 satellites within six years of license grant and, as needed to meet anticipated demand, a Final Deployment configuration of 2,956 satellites,” the company said in its application. “The NGSO System would provide a wide range of advanced communications and Internet-based services to a state-of-the-art suite of V-band earth stations,” the application states. “The NGSO System user terminals would consist of advanced array antennas capable of generating and receiving wideband signals on any system channel, with higher throughputs supported by terminals designed for multi-channel/multi-polarization operation.” Boeing’s second application, which it filed on Nov. 15, seeks approval for a constellation of 60 satellites that would “provide very high speed connectivity for end-user earth stations (‘user terminals’) via the system’s gateways and associated terrestrial fiber network.” ...