Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - 14

[ BRIEFS ] swatches
Inflatable habitat completes
full-size burst pressure test
A
nother milestone in the eventual replacement of the International Space
Station (ISS) went off with a bang as Orbital Reef's full-scale inflatable
habitat exceeded its required specifications during an ultimate burst
pressure test in December, rescheduled from October.
The test of the Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE™) habitat's
pressure shell exceeded NASA's specifications of 60.8 pounds per square inch
by 27%, not failing until it reached 77 psi. (The 60.8 figure is its maximum
operating pressure of 15.2 psi multiplied by a safety factor of four.)
" The successful full-scale burst test is an undeniable leap toward a new
reality of how humans live and operate in space, and we are proud to celebrate
this milestone as we work to expand humanity's capabilities in low Earth orbit, "
says Rob Reed, president of Space & Engineered Solutions at ILC Dover LP.
Orbital Reef is a joint project of Sierra Space Corp., Blue Origin, ILC Dover
and others, aiming to be the first commercial habitat in low Earth orbit before
the end of the decade. The inflatable habitats will have three floors and multiple
layers protecting the inner area where the astronauts will work and live. Fabrics
used in its construction include Vectran®
straps, spun from a liquid crystal
polymer that gets stronger as it gets colder. The habitats will be delivered to
space folded inside a 5-meter rocket fairing, becoming rigid upon inflation.
The test was performed with support from NASA's Reimbursable Space Act
Agreement, in which the Marshall Space Flight Center provides services to Sierra
Space in support of its work developing commercial low Earth orbit technology.
Ultimate burst pressure testing in 2024 is planned for both small-scale and
full-size versions of the Atmospheric Barrier and the Micrometeoroid Orbital
Debris layers. The habitat's previous burst pressure test in August 2023 was on
a one-third scale model that included blanking plates representing where
windows could be placed. This test had two blanking plates where a window or
hatch could be installed.
14 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / April 2024
The ultimate burst pressure test results, released in
January, showed the habitat's pressure shell was pushed
to 77 pounds per square inch, well over the 60.8 psi
required by NASA. Additional failure testing will take
place this year on other inflatable fabric layers that will
eventually comprise each habitat module of the Orbital
Reef space station. Images: Sierra Space Corp.

Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024

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Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - Cover1
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - Cover2
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - 2
Specialty Fabrics Review April 2024 - 3
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