Inside Sierra Nevada's Inflatable Space Habitat for Astronauts in Lunar Orbit (Photos)

Space.com | 8/21/2019 | Robert Z. Pearlman
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Click For Photo: https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/7YwpPL9wd2MENhuUbdXEnP-1200-80.jpg

Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Lunar Gateway ground prototype is deployed at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Aug. 21, 2019. The Large Inflatable Fabric Environment, or LIFE, habitat is inflated to its 27-foot (8 meters) expanded diameter.

HOUSTON — Astronauts may one day orbit the moon, live on the lunar surface or travel to Mars in a multifloor, inflatable habitat, should a Colorado company's design be adopted by NASA.

Sierra - Nevada - Corp - SNC - Wednesday

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) on Wednesday (Aug. 21) provided a close-up look at its full-scale mockup for NASA's Lunar Gateway, a human-tended orbital platform to support missions on the moon's surface and future flights into deep space. Developed under the agency's NeXTSTEP-2 (Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2) contract, SNC's ground prototype is one of five concepts that NASA is assessing for future use as part of its Artemis program architecture.

"Johnson Space Center just finished testing this, where they put a crew inside for about three days — what they call 'day-in-the-life testing,'" said Steve Lindsey, vice president of SNC Space Exploration Systems and a former NASA astronaut. "That is where you go through a simulated mission, you test the functionality of the space and how well it works accomplishing the mission."

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"We don't have the official results of that testing, but we are told it went very, very well, so we are really excited about that," Lindsey said.

Key - SNC - Habitat - Design - Ability

Key to SNC's habitat design is its ability to grow in volume once it is launched into space. The Large Inflatable Fabric Environment, or LIFE, habitat can start out compact enough to fit inside an 18-foot (5.4 meters) rocket fairing but then expand to 27 feet in diameter and 27 feet long (8 by 8 m).

A crew work area on the second floor of Sierra Nevada Corp.'s Lunar Gateway ground prototype,...
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