NanoRacks Airlock Passes Johnson Space Center’s Astronaut Training Exercise

Image Credit: NanoRacks

July 18, 2017 – The NanoRacks Airlock Module design continues to mature as NASA’s Johnson Space Center successfully ran testing on a NASA-built full-scale mockup of the Airlock in their Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL).

The tests confirmed that spacewalking astronauts will be able to successfully maneuver around the Airlock structure and mounted external payloads. Astronauts will be able to do this with the assistance of handrails, which have been strategically placed by the NanoRacks design team.

The mission of the NBL is to prepare for space missions involving spacewalks. NASA team members use the NBL to develop flight procedures, verify hardware compatibility, train astronauts, and refine spacewalk procedures during flight that are necessary to ensure mission success.

In May 2016, NanoRacks and NASA signed a Space Act Agreement to begin development of a private airlock module onboard the International Space Station (ISS). In February 2017, NanoRacks announced that the Company has selected Boeing as a partner to fabricate and install the Airlock’s Passive Common Berthing Mechanism (PCBM), which is used to connect most pressurized modules of the ISS – and is the most critical piece of hardware for the NanoRacks Airlock Module

“All is progressing smoothly with the development of our commercial Airlock,” says Airlock Project Manager, Brock Howe. “We are still targeting launch in 2019 in a SpaceX Dragon trunk, and we’re thankful for the hard work involving all of our Airlock partners, including our friends at Boeing, ATA Engineering, and Oceaneering.”

The NanoRacks Airlock Module is five times larger than the existing Japanese (JEM) Airlock currently on Station, and will be commercially operated, driven by market demand and a growing customer base.

NanoRacks LLC was formed in 2009 to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the International Space Station via a Space Act Agreement with NASA. In July 2015, NanoRacks signed a teaming agreement with Blue Origin to offer integration services on their New Shepard space vehicle. NanoRacks, along with partners at ULA and Space Systems Loral was also recently selected by NASA to participate in the NextSTEPs Phase II program to develop commercial habitation systems in low-Earth orbit and beyond.