It's costly to haul materials into space. That's why inflatable habitats are so alluring. They can pack down small and then expand into comfortable living and working spaces. But they need to be tough to stand up to the rigors of life in orbit, on the moon or even on Mars. How tough? Lockheed Martin blew up an inflatable habitat prototype to test its limits.
The company performed a burst test that pushed the prototype structure into oblivion. It finally blew apart at 285 psi, over six times its maximum operating pressure. That means the test was a huge success. Check out the spectacular footage:
The test took place at a Lockheed Martin facility in Colorado. Sensors and cameras monitored the action, giving researchers lots of data to work with.
The systems engineer Tyler Muma said in a Lockheed Martin statement.in use. Lockheed Martin wants to take the concept to new places. "This tech demo is the first step in proving out our inflatable habitat design, which we are confident will be one of the key enablers to make human life in space easier and allow humans to explore further into space than ever before,"
The habitat is part of NASA's NextSTEP program, a public-private partnership aimed at developing deep-space exploration technologies, including habitation systems. The design could be adapted for use in orbit on a space station or put in place as a surface dwelling or storage space on the moon or Mars. Need some elbow room while you're exploring other worlds? No problem. Just inflate it.