Friday could see the successful launch of the NASA Bigelow Expandable space station module and a good Spacex reusable drone ship landing

SpaceX will try yet again to land its Falcon 9 rocket on a robotic ship in the Atlantic Ocean Friday (April 8).

The landing attempt will come during the launch of SpaceX’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA, which is scheduled to take place at 4:43 p.m. EDT (2043 GMT) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

They will be launching the BEAM module. The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM) is an experimental expandable space station module being developed by Bigelow Aerospace, under contract to NASA, for use as a temporary module on the International Space Station (ISS) from 2016 to 2017. Bigelow has plans to build a second BEAM module as an airlock for the Bigelow Commercial Space Station.

The BEAM is an experimental program in an effort to test and validate expandable habitat technology. If BEAM performs favorably, it could lead to development of expandable habitation structures for future crews traveling in deep space. The two-year demonstration period will:

  • Demonstrate launch and deployment of a commercial inflatable. Implement folding and packaging techniques for inflatable. Implement a venting system for inflatable shell during ascent to ISS.
  • Determine radiation protection capability of inflatable structures.
  • Demonstrate design performance of commercial inflatable structure like thermal, structural, mechanical durability, long term leak performance, etc.
  • Demonstrate safe deployment and operation of an inflatable structure in a flight mission.

Mission success could see reusable rockets lowering launch costs by 3 to twenty and giant expandable space stations