NanoRacks have raised an undisclosed amount to assist with the development of a commercial airlock module for the International Space Station (ISS). The funding round was led by Space Angels and will be utilised as a bridge to the company’s upcoming Series B funding.
“NanoRacks has launched hundreds of payloads to the International Space Station, is currently building the first commercial airlock, and with Ixion the company plans to build and operate their own commercial space stations,” said Chad Anderson, chief executive of Space Angels. “We’re excited to partner with this incredibly experienced and passionate team that is doing so much to enable our future in space.”
The company’s airlock is part of an unfunded Space Act Agreement that the company signed with NASA in 2016. The agreement called for a module larger more dynamic than the station’s current airlock housed in the Kibo module. NanoRacks chief executive explained their airlock would be “five times bigger than the current airlock” and that it would be “far more commercial”.
In a Rocket Rundown exclusive, Manber explained the importance of this latest round of funding for development in the short and long term. “Part of the Bridge Round will allow us to purchase some long-lead raw materials to stay on schedule for our Airlock. This is a Bridge to our Series B which will be early in the new year.”
The first NanoRacks commercial airlock module is set to be installed aboard the ISS in late 2019. The module will be launched aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft. However, with the future of the ISS past 2024 unclear, the viability of NanoRacks airlock may rely on demand from future space stations.
One such space station could be the NASA-lead near-lunar station. With construction on the station to begin in the early 2020s, NanoRacks 2019 launch deadline would come at a perfect time for implementation on the near-lunar space station.
Additionally, the company’s commercial airlock would presumably be used on the Ixion partnership’s (of which NanoRacks is a member) planned commercial space station. There are, however, no confirmed launch dates for the Ixion station just yet.
Image Credit: NanoRacks