Sierra Space’s LIFE (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) habitat launches on a conventional rocket and inflates on-orbit to a large structure that is three stories tall, and 27 feet in diameter.
We have developed a full-scale prototype of the LIFE habitat that is being used to evaluate how crew members could perform mission tasks. Demonstrated core technologies include:
The LIFE habitat is 27 feet in diameter and 27 feet long, including its vestibule. The LIFE habitat pressurized volume is 300 cubic meters, or about 1/3 of the pressurized volume on the International Space Station.
Sierra Space’s LIFE habitat consists of three floors outfitted with everything a crew of four astronauts would need to live in space and perform science missions. This includes science labs, robotics work stations, medical and sick bay, sleep and hygiene quarters, galley, exercise equipment, Sierra Space’s Astro Garden plant growth system and ample storage room for crew supplies.
All of the air and water required to survive in space is delivered by logistics carriers to the habitat, where it is then stored until needed. The LIFE habitat has life support systems that regulate the air to maintain proper pressure, temperature, humidity and oxygen levels. These life support systems recycle some of the air and water that is used to reduce the amount that has to be delivered to the habitat.
Sierra Space’s LIFE habitat is currently being designed to support four crew members living and working on long-duration missions, such as those to Mars. It comfortably houses six for missions in LEO, but can accommodate 12 crew for shorter periods of time such as those during which crew members transition. Because of its modular nature, additional habitats can be joined to each other to accommodate more crew, or for a variety of other purposes.
The LIFE habitat prototype is constructed of several soft goods layers including, but not limited, to:
The LIFE habitat has a woven structural layer (pressure shell), called the restraint layer, which is strong enough to withstand the internal pressure required for the crew to live and work. It is protected by an MMOD multi-layer soft-goods shield that guards the habitat from space debris such as micrometeoroids. The layers of fabric, plus the internal outfitting, create ample safeguards against radiation.
The LIFE habitat is specifically designed to launch on commercial launch vehicles with a 5m fairing, providing multiple, low-cost launch options. It can also launch on the Space Launch System (SLS) since it expands only after it is on-orbit, making it easier and less expensive to transport.
The prototype is not going to space. Sierra Space has built a full-scale prototype of the LIFE habitat to determine the best approach to constructing, inflating and outfitting the LIFE habitat that will go to space in the future.
In addition, our ground prototype only has two floors – the middle and top – because the first floor of the flight-qualified LIFE habitat is upside down when on-orbit.