First Privately Funded Commercial Airlock for Space Station Planned

"The installation of NanoRacks' commercial airlock will help us keep up with demand," said Boeing International Space Station program Manager Mark Mulqueen. "This is a big step in facilitating commercial business on the ISS."

Boeing and NanoRacks LLC, a company based in Webster, Texas, announced Feb. 6 they will partner to develop the first privately funded commercial airlock for the International Space Station. The airlock would allow for potentially tripling the number of small satellites that can be deploy from the station during a single airlock cycle, they reported.

They hope to attach the NanoRacks Airlock Module to the U.S. station segment in 2019. Boeing will build and install the airlock's Passive Common Berthing Mechanism, the hardware used to connect the pressurized modules of the space station, which currently uses the airlock on the station's Japanese Experiment Module.

The new, commercial airlock will be larger. "The installation of NanoRacks' commercial airlock will help us keep up with demand," said Boeing International Space Station program Manager Mark Mulqueen. "This is a big step in facilitating commercial business on the ISS."

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