Watch a House-Sized Space Habitat (Intentionally) Burst

The LIFE 1.0 module at the Sierra Space facility in Broomfield, Colorado. Credit: Sierra Space

We live in an age of renewed space exploration, colloquially known as Space Age 2.0. Unlike the previous one, this new space age is characterized by inter-agency cooperation and collaboration between space agencies and the commercial space industry (aka. NewSpace). In addition to sending crews back to the Moon and onto Mars, a major objective of the current space age is the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit (LEO). That means large constellations of satellites, debris mitigation, and plenty of commercial space stations.

To accommodate this commercial presence in LEO, Sierra Space has developed the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) habitat, an inflatable module that can be integrated into future space stations. As part of the Commercial Low Earth Orbit Development Program, NASA, Sierra Space, and ILC Dover (the Delaware-based engineering manufacturing company) recently conducted a full-scale burst pressure test of their LIFE habitat. The test occurred at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and was caught on video (see below).

Continue reading “Watch a House-Sized Space Habitat (Intentionally) Burst”

Dream Chaser is Getting Tested at NASA

After a journey spanning almost two decades, Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser reusable spaceplane, named Tenacity, is officially undergoing environmental testing at NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility located at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in anticipation of its maiden flight to the International Space Station (ISS), currently scheduled for April 2024. The environmental testing consists of analyzing the spacecraft’s ability to withstand rigorous vibrations during launch and re-entry, along with the harsh environment of outer space, including extreme temperature changes and vacuum conditions. This testing comes after Sierra Space announced the completion of Tenacity at its facilities in Louisville, Colorado last month, along with the delivery of Sierra Space’s cargo module, Shooting Star, to the Neil Armstrong Test Facility that same month, as well.

Continue reading “Dream Chaser is Getting Tested at NASA”

Sierra Space Tests Another Inflatable Space Station Module … to Destruction

The moment of boom for Sierra Space's LIFE Habitat during a Accelerated Systematic Creep Test. Credit: Sierra Space.

Oops! They’ve done it again. Sierra Space blew up their space habitat for the third time – intentionally — all in the name of testing.

The commercial space company conducted a new duration test called an Accelerated Systematic Creep Test for their LIFE Habitat (Large Integrated Flexible Environment), putting a 1/3 size scale model of the space module under gradually increasing excess pressure until it failed. The habitat burst after more than 150 hours of constant pressure, exceeding NASA’s certification target of 100 hours.

Sierra Space told Universe Today that the results of the test indicate that the test article exceeded the pressure shell on orbit lifetime performance requirement of 15 years with margin. That means astronauts could live and work in a full-size version of the inflatable habitat for up to 60 years in space.

The video below shows the impressive explosion:

Continue reading “Sierra Space Tests Another Inflatable Space Station Module … to Destruction”

Sierra Space Inflated a Habitat to Destruction, Testing its Limits Before Going to Orbit

What’s left of Sierra Space’s LIFE Habitat test article after the Ultimate Burst Pressure Test. Credit: Sierra Space.

Normally, it would be a very bad day if your space station habitat module blew up. But it was all smiles and high-fives in mission control when Sierra Space’s LIFE habitat was intentionally over-inflated until it popped spectacularly in an Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP) test. This video shows the moment of boom from several different viewpoints.

Continue reading “Sierra Space Inflated a Habitat to Destruction, Testing its Limits Before Going to Orbit”