Flying Airlock Bishop
Press Release From: Nanoracks
Aired: Sunday, December 6, 2020
The privately owned Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, lodged in the trunk of SpaceX Dragon, has reached a stable orbit after a successful launch in mission CRS-21. Today’s mission launched from Kennedy Space Center 39A Launch Complex at 11:17 am ET.
“This is a monumental moment for the Nanoracks,” said CEO Jeffrey Manber. “We got this idea five years ago. In those five brisk years, we have gone from being known as a ‘CubeSat’ deployment company to an organization building the future of commercial low Earth orbit infrastructure. I am very proud of our team and thank all of our partners and customers who have brought us to this moment. “
The self-funded Bishop Airlock offers five times the current payload volume than is currently available on the government-operated JEM Airlock on the space station and is the first commercial airlock. Bishop’s capabilities include deployment of free-flying payloads such as CubeSats and externally mounted payloads, accommodating small loads for research and manufacturing in space, removing trash, and recovering external Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs). ORU are modular components of the station which can be replaced when needed, such as pumps and other hardware.
The Bishop Airlock concept was developed after the Nanoracks found themselves in a jam at the space station with too many customer requests for limited airlock space and opening frequency.
“It’s a very Nanoracks way of thinking, to say that something on the International Space Station isn’t working for us, so we’ll go ahead and build it ourselves,” said Airlock Nanoracks Program Manager Brock Howe. “We couldn’t reach this tipping point without a partner. us, which includes Boeing, Thales Alenia Space, ATA Engineering, Oceaneering, and Craig Technologies. “
Bishop is currently certified for 100 cycles, with one ‘cycle’ including opening and closing. Nanoracks expects the lifespan to be extended through some additional analysis and if market demand warrants this increase. The Bishop’s first customers include NASA and ESA, and a Japanese space robotics startup, GITAI.
“Our Bishop team has been dedicated to this program for years, working around the clock amid a global pandemic, all to ensure our beauties will be delivered in perfect condition and ready to be assigned when they arrive on the space station,” continued Howe. “I’m very proud.”
Once installed permanently on the American side of the space station, Bishop will become a privately funded service that will allow NASA to follow the agency’s goal of serving as one of the many customers for commercial services in space, expanding the low Earth orbit market beyond just government-provided products and services. For Nanoracks, Bishop Airlock is the first step in building infrastructure in space, which will be followed by demonstrations and missions for The Nanoracks Space Post Program.
To learn more about Bishop Airlock, payload abilities, and how to start your Bishop mission, visit Nanoracks website.
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