Polaris - Banner

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

#SpaceWatchGL Opinion: 10 iconic marketing campaigns in Space

Marketing in outer space seems like an innovative idea, but it has 60+ years of history. Dr. Wernher von Braun, former Marshall Space Flight Center Director, pointed out on July 22, 1969: "Because without public relations we would have been unable to do it". Today, accelerated access to space provides unprecedented opportunities for #advertising stunts and viral marketing. Some campaigns raise ethical, environmental, and regulatory concerns, while others champion sustainability.