In August 2018, NanoRacks was one of 13 companies selected by NASA to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-range opportunities for the International Space Station. Today, NanoRacks is pleased to share the expansive industry team that the Company will be working with to complete this study and show the viability of commercial habitats (“Outposts”) in low-Earth orbit and the future of International Space Station commercial utilization.
In this four-month study, NanoRacks will investigate the commercial case for the re-purposing of in-space hardware, specifically the upper stages of launch vehicles, via the NanoRacks Space Outpost Program. NanoRacks, and their low-Earth orbit commercialization team, aim to define the market, policy, and contractual ecosystems required for the commercial sustainability of the Outpost Program – both as autonomous and human-habitable platforms.
Outpost is not a specific technology, but a collection of techniques, including robotic repurposing, outfitting, and payload integrating, for recycling commercially useful volume out of otherwise discarded in-space assets.
Participating partners include:
United Launch Alliance (ULA) – LEO Village
Terminal Velocity Aerospace – Payload Return
Stratolaunch Systems Corporation – MLV Outfitting to Outpost Specifications
Lunar Resources – In-space manufacturing
Space BD – Collaboration on Satellite Deployment
Olis Robotics -Telerobotic Operations
Made In Space – In-space Manufacturing
Space Adventures – Space Tourism
Altius Space Machines – Proximity Operations and Space Tugs
Deep Space Industries – Orbital Maneuvering
Kongsberg Satellite Services – Ground Station Coordination
Marsh – Insurance Analysis
Oliver Wyman – Risk Analysis
“This team is unprecedented,” says NanoRacks Commerce Director and Principal Investigator for the LEO Commercialization Study Adrian Mangiuca. “We have experts across the aerospace industry contributing innovative technology and business concepts, all for one collaborative program.”
NanoRacks first announced its intent to operate commercial Outposts throughout the solar system in 2016, when it was one of six companies selected to participate in NASA’s Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships-2 (“NextSTEP-2”) program. Initial technical feasibility of repurposing upper stages in orbit, both autonomously and via human astronauts, was successfully proved by NanoRacks in Fall 2017.
“This is our vision coming to life,” says NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber. “We are seeking to dramatically lower the cost for operating multiple commercial Outposts throughout the solar system, and we plan to do so in a way that leverages the expertise of agile commercial space companies, and feeds back into our growing ecosystem.”
This study intends to provide a viable, realistic roadmap for all low-Earth orbit stakeholders, from the United States Government to commercial suppliers and end-users.
“We’re looking at the role of government in the evolution of the International Space Station in the roadmap to commercialization,” continues Manber. “We look forward to sharing the results of our study.”
Further information about the NanoRacks Space Outpost Program can be found here.
You may also find the NanoRacks team at the International Astronautical Congress in booth 5-B-20.