NASA has inflated the first-ever expandable room for astronauts on the International Space Station, a round module that made occasional popcorn-like popping sounds as it reached its full size, NBC News reported.
It took NASA astronaut Jeff Williams more than seven hours to inflate the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) Saturday. Its inflation went at a glacial pace as a safety precaution since BEAM is the first of its kind.
Williams reported that he heard popping noises with almost every short burst of air he fed into the module through a manual valve.
The fully inflated BEAM module is 13 feet (4 meters) long and 10.5 feet (3.2 m) wide, and contains 565 cubic feet (16 cubic m) of living space. Expandable habitats take up less room in a payload fairing than rigid, metal habitats, and are also lighter, which lowers the cost of sending them to space.