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Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC Sierra Nevada Corporation | SNC

LIFE Habitat

LIFE Habitat

Large Integrated Flexible Environment (LIFE) Highlights

  • Significant volume, power & data to support long-duration human habitation
  • Flexible launch options; compatible with commercial launch vehicles
  • Applications in low-Earth orbit, Mars transport & Lunar/Mars surface habitation
  • Specifically designed and developed by SNC and its partners
  • Developed and tested to meet NASA micrometeoroid impact requirements

Videos Photos Renderings

SNC Commercial Space Station Concept
SNC LIFE Habitat PrototypeSNC LIFE Habitat with Astro GardenSNC LIFE Habitat InteriorSNC LIFE Habitat Interior

LIFE Ground Prototype

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:

  • Full-scale Vectran habitat inflation & testing
  • Air circulation & environmental monitoring
  • Habitat health monitoring system
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Sierra Space’s Astro Garden® system for plant growth
  • Crew equipment

Sierra Space Station

Sierra Space's space station leverages its transportation and destination technologies including the Dream Chaser spaceplane and LIFE Habitat.

The station is a configuration of multiple expandable LIFE habitats that can be serviced by both cargo- and crew-carrying Dream Chaser spaceplanes.

Among the industries that could utilize the station:

  • In-space manufacturing such as 3D printing
  • Pharmaceutical and medical research
  • Agricultural production for food and science
  • Movie production
  • Tourism

LIFE Features

  • 27-foot diameter
  • 300 cubic meters of pressurized volume (about 1/3 the pressurized volume on the International Space Station)
  • Three floors including lab space, kitchen, garden and sleeping quarters
  • Outside layer composed of Vectran fabric weave that is stronger than steel and tough enough to withstand the internal pressure required for the crew to live and work comfortably for extended periods of time
  • Can comfortably house 4-12 crew depending on application
  • Closed-loop life support enables long-duration missions
  • Sierra Space’s Astro Garden grows fresh produce and plants

LIFE Hab Moot Cutaway | Sierra Nevada Corporation
LIFE Hab Mars | Sierra Nevada Corporation
LIFE Hab on Moon | Sierra Nevada Corporation
LIFE Hab Space Station | Sierra Nevada Corporation

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • 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 outside layer, known as the restraint layer, is a Vectran fabric weave that is strong enough to withstand the internal pressure needed for the crew to live & work comfortably in space. It is stronger than steel.
    • The inner layer, called the bladder, is made of urethane and is designed to keep the air inside the habitat without leaking.
    • The middle layer, or liner, is made of nylon. It presents a smooth surface to protect the bladder from damage.
  • The LIFE habitat has a woven structural layer, 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 a 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).Because it expands only after it is on-orbit, the habitat requires a smaller amount of cargo space, making it easier and less expensive to transport.

  • The prototype is not going to space. Sierra Space is building the 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.


  • No, the LIFE habitat is not a copy of the Bigelow design. The LIFE habitat uses commercially available Vectran material and is based on ILC Dover's Tunnel Plug technology. Sierra Space is partnered with ILC Dover to develop the habitat. ILC Dover has extensive experience in inflatable systems.



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Subsidiary Sierra Space
SNC Space Exploration Systems Brochure (.PDF)

Life Habitat


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