Inside world’s first inflatable space station that could soon replace the ISS

  • Sierra Space is developing an inflatable space station
  • It’s roughly one-third the size of the ISS
  • Combined with Blue Origin’s Orbital Reef space station, it might replace the ISS altogether

Published on Jun 30, 2024 at 4:28 PM (UTC+4)
by Siddharth Dudeja

Last updated on Jun 30, 2024 at 4:28 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Nalin Rawat

US-based aerospace company Sierra Space is on track to build more and more of its inflatable space station models, and they might just end up replacing the International Space Station (ISS).

New space stations, especially those that inflate, might seem absurd.

But it’s the new hot tech, and the company behind it believes it will work.

Several companies worldwide are developing newer space stations, and these inflatable ‘habitats’ will play a huge part in Sierra Space’s grand plan.

READ MORE: Why astronauts age slower while they’re in space

Almost time to bid farewell to the ISS

But why is it all happening in the first place?

For context, NASA plans to retire the International Space Station by sometime around 2030, and commercial space stations will replace it.

As a matter of fact, the space agency already chose Musk’s SpaceX to destroy the ISS safely.

So, what’s next?

Private companies are working on replacements, but the most likely candidate is Sierra Space, which is developing a full-fledged replacement in collaboration with Blue Origin.

It’s called Orbital Reef, and Sierra Space’s future inflatable space modules will be a part of it.

Moreover, the company is also working with NASA to launch the world’s first commercial winged spaceplane.

It’s almost ready to take off later this year and will likely transport the inflatable habitats when the time comes.

Currently, the aerospace company has a promising prototype of the inflatable space station, roughly one-third the size of the ISS.

Now, that’s certainly not enough, but they plan to get there through vigorous research and development.

The inflatable space station will be home to astronauts

Earlier this year, Sierra Space intentionally burst one of these inflatable modules as part of a testing procedure.

And it’s safe to say that the results seem promising.

The module, albeit small, has two ‘floors’ — where a handful of people have their research equipment on the bottom floor, and have a garden to grow fresh produce.

It also features high-quality materials that can withstand most dangers, like meteors in space.

However, it’s easy to fix in case of damage at the same time.

Further, the company is also working on larger modules, which will be bigger than the ISS itself.

These, combined with the Orbital Reef space station, might replace the ISS in the future.

The replacement of the ISS, whichever it may be, will be the new home for astronauts to conduct future research and develop new technologies.

In case that doesn’t seem promising enough, inflatable modules like these might also be our first home on Mars when humanity arrives.

It sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but it’s as real as it gets.


Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth is a tech nerd with a secret love of all things cars. He has been writing for a few years now, and on his free time you would find him gaming when he's not procrastinating.