NASA tries again to inflate new room at space station

CAPE CANVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is trying once more to inflate a new experimental room at the International Space Station.

On Saturday, astronaut Jeffrey Williams introduced more air into the compartment, 22 seconds’ worth, then eight seconds.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, barely expanded during Thursday’s first inflation attempt. Experts believe the soft-sided compartment was packed up tight for so long before last month’s launch that the fabric layers had trouble unfolding. By now, there should be less friction among the layers and it should stretch its full 13 feet in length.

Bigelow Aerospace provided this first inflatable room ever built for astronauts. Hotel entrepreneur Robert Bigelow sees this as a test bed for future inflatable spacecraft for tourists and Mars astronauts.