Sierra Space, a leading pureplay commercial space company building the first end-to-end business and technology platform in space, announced today that it has formed a long-term strategic partnership with ILC Dover, the leading provider of softgoods technologies and spacesuits. The partnership will accelerate the on-orbit installation of affordable and high-volume LIFE™ (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) inflatable modules that will be the catalyst for the commercialization of space leveraging the Sierra Space platform. The two companies have also partnered to design the next generation of spacesuits for both extra- and intra-vehicular activity (EVA and IVA).
“We are building the first commercial end-to-end platform in space that will provide the necessary affordable unit economics, with our large expandable family of space modules, to accelerate biotech and industrial companies to design and build their next breakthrough products in our microgravity factories,” said Sierra Space CEO Tom Vice. “Our first inflatable space habitat and research module will provide one-third the pressurized volume of the entire International Space Station (ISS) in a single launch. This technology will scale quickly, allowing our team to put into LEO a single module with greater pressurized volume than the entire ISS – also in a single launch.”
ILC Dover will be an exclusive partner with Sierra Space for softgoods used to support inflatable space habitat systems for low-Earth orbit (LEO), lunar and Mars transport and surface habitation, and use cases even farther into deep space.
“We are thrilled to partner with Sierra Space as part of the next era of space exploration and the emerging commercial space economy,” said ILC Dover CEO Corey Walker. “As a leading solutions provider in the space industry, our collaboration with Sierra Space highlights the strength of ILC Dover’s heritage and the demand for our market leading technologies in the rapidly changing space economy. It will soon be a reality for more humans to visit and work in space, and our team looks forward to this innovation’s potential impact on humanity that will come from enabling more research to be completed in low-Earth orbit.”
The collaboration is an important step toward building commercial space stations and other critical infrastructure that enable humans to live in space for extended periods of time. Sierra Space will also exclusively partner with ILC Dover for the Sierra Space EVA and IVA spacesuits.
“The commercialization of LEO requires the largest astronaut workforce in history,” Vice continued. “Our company has established its own human spaceflight center and astronaut training academy, and through this agreement with ILC Dover, we will build the next generation of EVA and IVA spacesuits that seamlessly integrate with the Dream Chaser and our space destinations.”
ILC Dover and Sierra Space have been working to build and test the Large Inflatable Flexible Environment (LIFE™) habitat, a key component of Sierra Space’s in-space destinations technology portfolio. Different than the rigid complexity of the International Space Station, LIFE is compactly stored inside the fairing of a rocket. Once launched into space, the lightweight habitat expands to the size of a three-story building and serves as a commercial habitation, science and bio pharma platform for humans to live and work comfortably in LEO and beyond.
ILC Dover’s years of spaceflight experience, combined with its proven systems and processes, ensure a high level of quality, reliability and safety built into the inflatable living space. LIFE will serve as both the habitation and payload element for LEO space stations, such as Orbital Reef. ILC Dover will continue to work closely with Sierra Space as its LEO presence and mission continue to scale.
Since July 2022, Sierra Space and ILC Dover have joined NASA in successfully completing a variety of pressure tests on one-third-scale versions of LIFE (click here for the latest test results). All four tests exceeded NASA’s certification requirements and demonstrated the inflatable structure’s integrity for sustaining human life in space for greater than 60 years.
The companies and NASA will continue to collaborate on the next series of one-third scale LIFE certification tests, which will focus on inserting hard structures into the pressure shell and correlating the results to previous tests. Full-scale LIFE habitat tests should begin later this year.
During the 38th Space Symposium, industry professionals can visit Sierra Space at booth #1302 to see a scaled representation of LIFE and samples of ILC Dover’s softgoods technologies that make up layers of the LIFE habitat.
About Sierra Space
Sierra Space is a leading, pureplay commercial space company at the forefront of innovation and the commercialization of space in the Orbital Age™, building an end-to-end business and technology platform in space to benefit life on Earth. With more than 30 years and 500 missions of space flight heritage, the company is enabling the future of space transportation with Dream Chaser® the world’s only commercial spaceplane and is bringing LIFE™ (Large Integrated Flexible Environment) to low-Earth orbit with its modular, three-story commercial habitation and science platform. Both Dream Chaser and LIFE are central components to Orbital Reef, a mixed-use business park in LEO being developed by principal partners Sierra Space and Blue Origin, which is expected to be operational by the end of the decade. Sierra Space also builds and delivers a host of systems and subsystems across solar power, mechanics and motion control, environmental control, life support, propulsion and thermal control, offering myriad space-as-a-service solutions for the new space economy.
About ILC Dover
ILC Dover is a world-leader in the innovative design and production of space exploration technology including spacesuits, space habitats and inflatable landing systems. The company’s spacesuits have been worn during more than 250 space flights, six Moon landings, and over 3,000 hours of spacewalks without a single failure. ILC Dover has developed two commercial suits, Sol™, a Launch, Entry, and Abort (LEA) suit, and Astro™, an Extravehicular Activity (EVA) and Planetary Exploration suit. Our customers will attest to our relentless dedication to high value products, advanced technology, and responsive service, as our visionary solutions have improved efficiency while safeguarding people, product, and infrastructure in hazardous conditions through flexible protective solutions since 1947. For more about ILC Dover please visit www.ilcdover.com/aerospace or follow ILC Dover on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.