That looked violent.
Space startup Sierra Space has blown up its third inflatable space station module at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, a violent event caught in an epic slow-motion video.
The goal was to stress test a new habitat design for the eventual — and entirely commercial —replacement of the International Space Station, the Orbital Reef station, an ambitious concept spearheaded by Blue Origin.
The LIFE Habitat module underwent its third stress test to demonstrate that it can pass NASA's certification requirements and house human visitors for prolonged periods of time.
A video put together by Sierra Space shows the structure slowly inflating before abruptly tearing itself into shreds.
The module is made out of a specially woven fabric that becomes incredibly rigid when pressurized, which makes it an ideal candidate for making up the hull of a future space habitat.
The scaled-down model was able to withstand intense pressures for over 150 hours, which is well above NASA's prescribed target of 100 hours.
"Based on data from this first subscale creep test, we well exceeded the on-orbit mission performance requirement of 60 years for inflatable structures within our current architecture," LIFE chief engineer Shawn Buckley said in a statement.
Live and Work in Space
Sierra Space has already successfully blown up two other space habitats during burst pressure tests last year.
"LIFE Habitat represents the essential technology developments needed to one day enable humans to live and work in space," said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice in a statement. "These results will propel us in 2023 as we mature the technology via full-scale development and continue toward full NASA certification."
The startup is hoping to eventually construct a three-story commercial habitation that can also serve as a science platform, an important segment of Blue Origin's planned Orbital Reef station.
Despite these early successes, however, both companies have their work set out before the new station can start welcoming astronauts.
READ MORE: Kapow! Inflatable space station module blows to pieces in video explosion [Space.com]
More on Sierra Space: Experimental Inflatable Space Station Segment Explodes Violently
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