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Sierra Space blew up its inflatable space habitat — and that’s a good thing

LIFE habitat burst test | Sierra Space

Sierra Space blew up its inflatable space habitat to test how much pressure it can handle. Dubbed LIFE, for Large Integrated Flexible Environment, it consists of “softgoods,” or woven fabrics that act like a rigid structure once inflated.

The test focused on LIFE’s pressure shell, which is supposed to keep the habitat intact no matter the pressure it’s experiencing. This layer is made up of Vectran straps (the same material used for the Mars Rovers), which “becomes stronger than steel when inflated on-orbit,” and other high-strength fabrics.

With the support of NASA, it pumped in air beyond the recommended level of 60.8 psi until the whole thing went kaboom. (The explosive ending starts at 5:55 in the video below.)

The aerospace…

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