The first commercial aircraft is due to land at the International Space Station later this year

The first commercial aircraft is due to land at the International Space Station later this year

Later this year, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will carry a large metal cup to connect the International Florida to the outside of the International Space Station. Done.

The aircraft is a product of the space agency Nanorax, which helps individual customers access space. To date, the company has developed even smaller space-specific hardware, such as standardized research boxes that customers can use to test the space station’s microgravity environment. It has also developed its own satellite launcher from ISI or small free-flying spaceships – used to shoot small spacecraft into orbit.

But this commercial aircraft, called the Bishop, is probably the most ambitious part of the Nanorax still built. Shaped like a bell jar, the metal plane will be attached to an available port outside the ISS, creating a small circular bump on the outside of the orbiting lab. A series of clamps and processes at the ends of the port will latch into the airlock, ensuring there is no airflow seal. Astronauts can then store items on the aircraft by opening the port hatch.

“Once you get there, you just have to use the extra real estate,” said Mike Lewis, Nanorax’s chief innovation officer, a bishop’s virtual tour provider. Edge. “We can use it in a variety of ways, the first of which is to bring things out.”

Once the payload is mounted inside the bishop, the astronauts will close the port hatch and drop the aircraft from the aircraft through a pump. Then, a robotic arm outside the space station can grab the bishop’s hand from the outside and remove it from the harbor and release the items into the space. It’s like removing a round cap from one’s head. When a planned operation is over, the arm can again place the airport over the harbor, where the bishop latches again and creates another air cycle seal. “Much like a submarine, when you’re going out of the water, you’re going to be in space without a difference,” Lewis said.

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There are currently three aircraft on the space station – two that allow people to leave the station, and one aircraft in the Japanese test module that is used to release payloads into space. There is another option, which is five times the current volume of Japanese aircraft, according to the company. And that means more customers can go into space in a timely fashion, clearing backlogs created by simply providing an aircraft for deployment.

A big goal of Airlock is to double it as a satellite transport. Customers can attach installations to the inside of the satellite, by tapping inside their satellite. Then, when the launch of the aircraft comes into contact with space, the installers will shoot their satellites and place them in orbit around the earth. Things that come out of the bishop don’t do that There is Is to be a long-term satellite. NASA has an agreement to pack trash items inside containers from ISAS, which will enter space starting from aircraft. The vessel is meant to quickly fall out of orbit and then ignite in the Earth’s atmosphere. “The nice side effect is that it makes a great looking shooting star,” Lewis said.

The bishop can also be used only for publishing experiments in space. A customer, a Japanese startup called GITAI, will test its new robotic arm inside the bishop. In this way, the company will be able to see how its technology fits into space spaces or a stressful environment. Nanorax also envisioned increasing research payloads on aircraft to observe different parts of the Earth from space. The company incorporated adapters outside the bishop to attach payloads and tests to the exterior of the aircraft. Bishops can even be used in household equipment that astronauts may need when doing spacewalks outside the ISS.

The company is currently finalizing the aircraft and conducting final tests, with the goal of sending the hardware to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the next two weeks. Bishop is then scheduled to launch SpaceX’s next cargo mission to the space station, which is currently in mid-November. When the dragon arrives at the ISS, the station’s robotic arm will carry the bishop out of the trunk and attach it to its final parking spot.

The plane got its name from the chess bishop, it is a piece that can remove any side of the board. The name implies the versatility of the bishop and reflects the various tactics it can perform while attached to the station’s robotic arm. The company has a bolder dream of building its own free-floating space station made from recycled fuel tanks. Similar aircraft can operate at such stations, and the bishop can even be transferred from the ISS to one of those facilities one day.

For now, Nanorax will only help its customers get their payloads into space as quickly as possible because they made Bishop in the first place. “The best reason to do it commercially, not through official programming, was because we wanted it and we wanted it now,” Lewis said. “We’ve seen the need for both our customer base and our future plans.”

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