Nanoracks is completing the development of the airlock device that will fit on the International Space Station while also finishing its fundraiser program. The airlock module dubbed “the Bishop” is undergoing development processes at its site in Houston. Once the module is complete, it will be transferred to Florida for fixation into the SpaceX Dragon payload space vehicle, heading to the ISS in two months.
Bishop will fit into the Tranquillity module of the International Space Station. This module is known for its ability to host satellites and payloads, later venturing the space ecosystem. Bishop will act as a deployer of the cargoes from the International Space Station, where once the payloads leave for space, the Bishop can reattach itself to the Tranquility module.
Nanoracks’ chief of operations, Mike Lewis, explained that Bishop would be like a cup to remove some air from the ISS modules and carry the payloads and release them into the space environment.
Nanoracks began producing Bishop after receiving a contract, which stated that there would be a high need for a system or mechanism that releases payloads and satellites from the International Space Station. The company has conducted tests of the airlock on Japan’s Kibo segment launching numerous cubesats into space. However, the Bishop’s airlock on the ISS will be bigger than that used for testing, making Nanoracks pay much attention to its conclusive development.
Nanoracks intends to deploy numerous payloads using Bishop since it can host payloads from inside and outside. Japan’s GITAI robotics firm will be the latest firm to demonstrate Bishop’s robotic hand’s performance in 2021.
Brock Howe, the project attendant for Bishop, stated that the customers would enjoy its services once it attaches to the ISS. Brock added that the ISS’s robotic hand would detach the Bishop airlock from the Dragon’s payload compartment once this spacecraft lands on the ISS.
Immediately the Bishop leaves the Dragon spacecraft; it will undergo evaluation and testing before it attaches to Tranquility and finally examined for any leakages. Brock explains that this process’s success will render the Bishop ready for satellites’ reception in a few days.
Bishop has a life span of ten years in which it can deploy as many payloads as possible before demanding a replacement provided other systems of the ISS usually perform. Brock added that they are working towards increasing this life span to cover more cycles of launches and prove its reliability.
Nanoracks has the plan of moving the Bishop airlock into another commercial space station should the rumors that the ISS would deorbit come to pass. The company stated that they are looking for a commercial space station where the airlock can fit or else redesign it to serve any system by developing an International Docking Adapter. To conclude, the CEO of Nanoracks, Jeffrey Manber, explained that the latter intention would depend on the successful fundraiser they will be hosting. The company’s spokesperson added that if the spacecraft developers redesign their vehicles as intended, the upper stages will accommodate the Bishop’s airlock.