Inflatable homes for astronauts in space tested through explosions

One company is pushing technology to its limits. Newly released video shows a burst pressure test — a one-third-scale test model of what will one day be a habitat for astronauts and researchers to live and work in space.

Part of their NASA partnership, this  "explosion" is a crucial part of their certification. 

Engineers say this test was a success. Blowing it up is exactly how engineers test the strength of their woven material. Engineers say it’s stronger than steel, guaranteeing safety in space.

"Years of research have gone into perfecting how it is woven together and sown together. What this test is demonstrating is that we can achieve a higher factor of safety than even harder structures can," said the LIFE Habitat program manager James Kirwin.

Shawn Buckley is the chief engineer of the life habitat. He says their inflatable homes can launch on a standard rocket and then expand to the size of a three-story apartment in orbit.

"That is really important in space because of launch cost, when you have a habitat that you are launching, you want to try and get the maximum gain out of that volume and when you launch it in space you can expand that system, you gain that extra living area," Buckley said.

The company plans to use these inflatable modules on the commercial space station they are building called Orbital Reef. Their president Janet Kavandi says their space station could even eventually replace the aging ISS.

"We are providing an option for NASA, along with other countries and universities, other companies and corporations. We are building something that no one has ever done before. A commercial space station," Buckley said.