A couple of articles caught my eye this week regarding Space. The first deals with the EM drive, a type of electromagnetic thruster. The other deals with NASA testing an expandable habitat module on the ISS.
I have written a couple of times (see ‘Propulsion’ in tag cloud) about the EM drive in recent months. There is still no official word on accepting the EM drive as working physics. However NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratories is reported to have a paper on the controversial drive going through the peer review process. If the article makes it through to publication, it will mean that at least there seems to be something to the theory.
You can read more about the EM drive in “EmDrive: Nasa Eagleworks confirms paper on controversial space propulsion is under peer review“. While I have high hopes for this propulsion system proving itself, there has not yet been any accepted data that the concept is valid.
The next SpaceX resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled for early April will carry along an experimental habitat module. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) which is an expandable capsule that will attach to the ISS. The module as delivered will be a 7.75′ diameter 5.7′ deep cylindar. When it is expanded it will roughly be 12′ deep and 10.5′ in diameter. While this may not sound like much, the module will grow from about 270 cubic feet to 1040 cubic feet.
Once the capsule is attached, it will be expanded then pressurized. Astronauts will enter the module and place various instrumentation aboard that will measure structural integrity, leakage, radiation exposure and temperature over the two years of the study. If these modules prove themselves, then that opens the door to habitat modules for space, Mars or other exploration opportunities to be transported then expand in place.