SWGL Fan Shop 2023

Sierra Space Announces Successful UBP Test of LIFE Habitat

Sierra Space
Sierra Space full-scale burst test. Credit: Sierra Space

Ibadan, 23 January 2024. – Sierra Space has announced the successful test of its first full-scale, expandable space station structure, the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE), alongside exclusive softgoods technology partner ILC Dover. The test represents the Company’s first stress test of a full-size, inflatable space station structure.

The pressure shell for Sierra Space’s LIFE habitat is made of expandable “softgoods,” or woven fabrics that perform like a rigid structure upon inflation. During an Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP) test, the teams inflated the test article until it failed, to determine how strong its softgoods materials would be under extreme stresses in the harsh environment of space. The full-scale unit in this test reached 77 psi before it burst, exceeding (+27%) NASA’s recommended level of 60.8 psi.

Sierra Space’s LIFE fits inside a standard five-meter rocket fairing and inflates to the size of a three-story apartment building in orbit. As a result, in just three launches, the modular LIFE units can create a living and working environment in space that is larger, volume-wise, than the entire International Space Station (ISS). In the coming years, the company will iterate on larger designs. A 1400-cubic-meter version, packaged inside a seven-meter rocket fairing, for example, would surpass the size of the ISS in a single launch.

Sierra Space notes that the achievement underscores its commitment to advancing the cutting-edge design and development of commercial space stations and positions it well ahead of its global competitors. Furthermore, the Company will build upon the test by embarking on an aggressive 2024 testing campaign at both sub- and full-scale, including a series of UBP tests in tandem with early-stage development of the primary Atmospheric Barrier and Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris (MMOD) layers.

Check Also

Dr Tidiane Outtara

Dr Ouattara to Head AUC’s Science, Technology and Space Division

The African Union Commission has appointed Dr Tidiane Ouattara as the Head of the Science, Technology and Space Division at the Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, African Union Commission, as reported by Space in Africa. Prior to this, Dr Ouattara was (and still remains) the Space Expert in charge of the development and implementation of the African Outer Space Program, including implementing the African Space Policy and Strategy and establishing the African Space Agency. He also remains the Program Coordinator for the GMES and Africa program.