Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Nanoracks is pleased to announce that both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have pre-purchased Bishop Airlock Cycles for agency and third-party use. The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, launching this Fall to the International Space Station (ISS), is the first-ever commercially built, owned, and operated airlock on the ISS and provides five times the existing payload volume currently available on station.
ESA has pre-purchased five airlock cycles, and NASA six, with an option for four additional cycles at a discounted rate.
“The signature of this contract is a concrete sign of the European stake in the expanding low-Earth orbit economy,” says Sylvie Espinasse, Head of the European Space Agency’s Washington DC office. “Following ESA member States’ investment in International Space Station research and development, European industry is now stepping in and forging innovative ties with US companies, which bodes very well for the future!”
“We’re thrilled to see both NASA and ESA leveraging commercially available opportunities on the Space Station,” says Nanoracks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “This is how public-private partnerships are supposed to work. Through our Space Act Agreement with NASA, we have been provided access to Node 3 where the Bishop Airlock will live. We then privately funded the Bishop Airlock, using no taxpayer funds for the hardware, and are in turn providing a service at a competitive rate to both the US and European governments, allowing the ISS to function at optimal levels of productivity.”
Some Bishop use-cases include CubeSat and MicroSat deployment, hosted payloads, microgravity and robotics experiments, Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) support, and more.
Nanoracks is continuing to expand use-case opportunities to the US government and is in discussions with NASA on multiple utilization efforts. The Bishop Airlock is allowing NASA to follow the agency goal of serving as one of many customers for commercial services in space, allowing the low-Earth orbit market to expand from beyond just government-provided products and services.
“We designed Bishop with the future in mind. We knew at the beginning that the first ideas of how to leverage this platform were just that – the first," says Brock Howe, Bishop Airlock program manager. “But as Bishop has come to life, the ways researchers and engineers are looking at this platform are evolving and we’re excited to build out custom missions for our customers, beyond the scope in which we first imagined Bishop would be used.”
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