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Sierra Space Tests Full-Scale Inflatable Space Station Structure

Sierra Space Tests Full-Scale Inflatable Space Station Structure
LIFE habitat

Sierra Space has built and tested a full-scale version of an inflatable structure at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center as part of its efforts to develop commercial space stations.

The company said Monday the ultimate burst pressure test was focused on the Large Integrated Flexible Environment habitat’s restraint layer developed in partnership with ILC Dover.

During the test, LIFE was inflated until it burst at a pressure of 77 pounds per square inch, which is nearly 27 percent above NASA’s recommended level of 60.8 psi.

“Sierra Space’s inflatable space station technology offers the absolute largest in-space pressured volume, the best unit economics per on-orbit volume and lowest launch and total operating costs,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice.

LIFE’s restraint layer is composed of Vectran straps and other high-strength fabric materials. Sierra Space and ILC Dover designed and tested the Vectran straps at the component and sub-scale levels before the test.

The space station structure is packed inside a standard five-meter rocket fairing and inflates to the size of an average family home.

Sierra Space will deploy the expandable technology in collaboration with Blue Origin on Orbital Reef on its Free-Flying Orbital Pathfinder.

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Written by Naomi Cooper

is a full-time writer for ArchIntel, a division of Executive Mosaic, and a contributor for ExecutiveBiz. She covers emerging technologies, technology innovation, contract awards, partnerships and market expansion stories in the government contracting industry.

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