Sierra Space Successfully Completes Fifth Sub-Scale Structural Test of their LIFE Habitat

Sierra Space Successfully Completes Fifth Sub-Scale Structural Test of their LIFE Habitat

Sierra Space, a pureplay commercial space company building the first end-to-end business and technology platform in space, announced it completed a fifth, sub-scale test of their revolutionary LIFE habitat (Large Integrated Flexible Environment). ILC Dover is the exclusive softgoods technology partner on the Sierra Space platform.

This latest successful milestone and the first one in the testing campaign to include a metallic window sub-structure – or blanking plate now propels Sierra Space into full-scale testing of LIFE by the end of this year. The milestone cements the company’s position as the industry leader in commercial space station development for use in low-Earth orbit (LEO) and deep space.

“Sierra Space is putting affordable in-space infrastructure within reach so every boardroom can now look to space for their next breakthrough products,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “Our revolutionary space station technology, combined with our highly reusable Dream Chaser spaceplane, significantly decreases the cost of in-space infrastructure and Is ushering in the commercialization of Low Earth Orbit.”

On Aug. 17, Sierra Space, in collaboration with ILC Dover and NASA subject-matter experts, conducted an Ultimate Burst Pressure (UBP) test on a one-third-scale version of the inflatable habitat. This test article included a blanking plate – a metallic structure inserted into the softgoods shell to emulate a future design component, such as a window, robotic arm, or antenna attachment point. For this burst test, a steel blanking plate was used as a stand-in for a future window.

This recent UBP test of the sub-scale LIFE with a blanking plate surpassed all other previous test article maximum burst pressures. The results of this test provide a 33% margin over the certification standard for full-scale LIFE testing, and nearly a 20% improvement over the previous design, aligning with Sierra Space’s two previous sub-scale UBP tests conducted in July and November 2022. Sierra Space is the only active commercial space company to test both UBP (3) and Creep (2) on an inflatable softgoods architecture at sub or full scale and now with a blanking plate.

“Inclusion of the blanking plate hard structure was a game-changer because this was the first time that we infused metallics into our softgoods pressure shell technology prior to conducting a UBP test,” said Sr. Director Engineering and Product Evolution Director for Sierra Space Destinations Shawn Buckley. “With this added component, once again, we successfully demonstrated that LIFE’s current architecture at one-third scale meets the minimum 4x safety factor required for softgoods inflatables structures. This is a phenomenal achievement and provides the necessary engineering foundation that allows us to move into the next phase of the LIFE product line development – full-scale testing of LIFE.”

Once fully developed, the LIFE habitat will house a minimum of two windows, and they are a critical feature in the development of the LIFE habitat. They help crew members deal with any feelings of living in a confined space. More importantly, windows provide the crew an opportunity to witness the beauty of planet Earth in a way that can forever change them as people.

“As pioneers in softgoods solutions, such as inflatable habitats, we are dedicated to advancing the next era of human spaceflight and sustaining life in low-Earth orbit,” said Robert Reed, President, of Space and Engineered Solutions at ILC Dover. “The milestone of this recent burst test underscores our commitment to safeguarding explorers as they push the boundaries and embark on transformative journeys beyond our planet. We are proud to have contributed to this crucial endeavor and further showcase the reliability of our inflatable habitat.”

This recent UBP test was performed with support from NASA via a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement in which Marshall Space Flight Center provides services to Sierra Space in support of its exploration and commercial low-Earth orbit (LEO) technology development and risk reduction activities. The test occurred in Huntsville, Ala., on Redstone Arsenal in the flame trench of the historic Saturn 1/1B test stand.

Sierra Space’s full-scale LIFE habitat product line is a key component of the company’s in-space destinations technology portfolio. The inflatable module is a three-story commercial habitation, science, and bio-pharma platform designed to allow humans to live and work comfortably in LEO and beyond. It is constructed of high strength, “softgoods” materials (sewn and woven fabrics, primarily Vectran) that become rigid structures when pressurized.

Click here to learn about Sierra Space's Human Spaceflight Center.

Publisher: SatNow
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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013