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International Space Station Gets a New Room

This combination of images provided by NASA shows the inflation of a new experimental room at the International Space Station, May 28, 2016.

The International Space Station has added a unique new room to its configuration.

The U.S. space agency NASA successfully inflated and pressurized an add-on room that was installed on the outside of the outpost.

It took about seven hours Saturday for the pod to expand to its full capacity. Fully expanded, the module is 4 meters long by 3.23 meters wide.

A series of tests determining the structural integrity of the pod will be conducted before the space station crew is allowed to enter it next week.

In addition, NASA says the tests will gauge how well the inflated room will protect against solar radiation, space debris and the temperature extremes of space.

The benefit of the inflatable pod is that it takes up little space when deflated, but provides more living/working space when inflated.

The Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, or BEAM, was designed by Bigelow Aerospace, based in Las Vegas. The company received an $18 million contract to design the first-of-its-kind habitat.

The first effort to inflate BEAM Thursday was not successful. Scientists believe that since BEAM had been packed for so long, its fabric had trouble unfolding.