NASA has halted its attempt to inflate a temporary habitat at the International Space Station, after running into problems expanding the module to full size.

The new room, known as the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), is part of an experiment to test expandable habitats that astronauts might use on the Moon or Mars in the coming decades.

NASA astronaut Jeff Williams took charge of the inflation early Thursday, in cooperation with mission control in Houston.

However, little air made its way in to the module despite several hours of attempts.

"Flight controllers informed NASA astronaut Jeff Williams that BEAM had only expanded a few inches in both length and diameter at the time the operation ceased for the day," the US space agency said in a statement.

"Engineers are meeting to determine a forward course of action, with the possibility that another attempt could be made as early as Friday morning."