NanoRacks announced that Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), has been chosen as the latest partner in its commercial airlock program.
Thales Alenia Space will produce and test the critical pressure shell for NanoRacks’ Airlock Module, which is targeting to be launched to the International Space Station late 2019, and will be used to deploy commercial and government payloads. Thales Alenia Space will also manufacture various secondary structures, including the Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris (MMOD) shields with Multi-Layer Isolation (MLI) panels, the power and video grapple fixture support structure and other structural components.
“We are very proud of our selection by NanoRacks for this key commercial program,” said Walter Cugno, Vice President, Exploration and Science at Thales Alenia Space. “Signing this contract not only ensures our continued role as a global leader in space infrastructures, it also emphasizes our distinctive skills and expertise. Thales Alenia Space will bring to this program over 40 years of experience in the design and production of high-technology solutions and will continue to provide these capabilities both for the International Space Station and for future space exploration initiatives.”
NanoRacks signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA in 2016 to install the first-ever private Airlock Module on the International Space Station. In February 2017, NanoRacks announced a partnership with Boeing to build and install the passive common berthing mechanism (PCBM), which will connect the Airlock to the rest of the Space Station
“Thales Alenia Space was the obvious choice when it came to fabricating our Airlock’s pressure shell,” said Brock Howe, NanoRacks’ Head of Airlock. “Thales Alenia has manufactured over half of the Space Station’s pressurized volume, they understand the Space Station’s systems and they have produced some of the world’s best aerospace hardware. We’re looking forward to a very successful partnership that expands our manufacturing alliances into the heart of Europe.”
Thales Alenia Space will produce and test the pressure shell this year, then ship it to NanoRacks’ Integration Facility in Houston, Texas in 2019. NanoRacks will integrate the avionics and wiring to complete the airlock assembly.
NanoRacks’ engineering and operations teams will handle airlock integration, functional testing, crew training and final inspections. The Airlock will be then shipped to Florida for final pre-launch preparations and installation on the SpaceX Dragon Trunk, to get ready for the scheduled launch on the SpaceX CRS-19 mission. NanoRacks also teams up with ATA Engineering and Oceaneering on the airlock’s subsystems.
Thales Alenia Space