It's a major development that could lead to a huge expansion of the ISS and its research and commercial capabilities.
NASA has just made a big move with regards to the International Space Station: they’ve approved the development of the first privately developed airlock, and it could lead to further expansion of the ISS’s research and commercial capabilities. The airlock could be sent to the orbiting lab in just the next two years.
Such an airlock would enhance the ISS’s ability to handle equipment and payloads outside, and would triple the number of small satellites that could be deployed. Nanoracks is developing the commercial airlock in partnership with Boeing, the prime contractor for the International Space Station.
The airlock would be installed on an open port, and would expose the commercial sector to other things, like creating a “new economy” in low-earth orbit, one NASA official said in a statement.
“This partnership is an important step in the commercial transition we’ll see on the ISS in coming years,” said Mark Mulqueen Boeing ISS program manager. “Utilizing a commercial airlock to keep up with the demand of deployment will significantly streamline our process.”
“We are very pleased to have Boeing joining with us to develop the Airlock Module,” says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “This is a huge step for NASA and the U.S. space program, to leverage the commercial marketplace for low-Earth orbit, on Space Station and beyond, and NanoRacks is proud to be taking the lead in this prestigious venture.”