NanoRacks Announces External Platform Program

Astronaut Mark Kelly operating NanoRack based payloads (Credits: NanoRacks LLC).

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and NanoRacks LLC are developing the External Platform Program (EPP), a new infrastructure for the International Space Station (ISS) to allow researchers to expose NanoRack payloads to the extreme conditions of e outer space. According to the ISS National Laboratory Manager Marybeth Edden “this program opens the door to allow commercial users to fully utilize not only the U.S. National Laboratory in a pressurized environment but also outside.”

NanoRacks LLC is a private company that is currently operating a research facility on the ISS under the NASA Space Act Agreement. The NanoRack platform enables a plug-and-play approach to microgravity research, thanks to its standardized cube-sized NanoLabs components. Programmed for 2014, the external platform will provide a low cost opportunity to expose payload to space environment. This project encourages the researchers to develop experiments able to test materials, biology life and electronics, among other things.

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), the nonprofit organization in charge of managing the U.S. National Laboratory, announced that they will reserve the first platform for commercial use. By the time the platform will be launched, CASIS will collect projects proposals for the new infrastructure. Through CASIS program of investment, four companies will be able to use the onboard laboratory.

NanoRacks already has a contract with CASIS that allows them to operate more than 60 payloads inside the U.S. National Laboratory. NASA has recently given NanoRacks permission to expand operations to the Japanese Kibo module facility inside the ISS. This deal will provide NanoRacks with an opportunity to expand the plug and play “NanoLabs” outside the space station, allowing researches to develop new generation of experiments.

The EPP will be developed and operated using private investment only; NASA will help providing Space Station hardware, data transmission and power supply. “This program will enable faster innovation and spiral development for payloads,” said Jefferey Manber , NanoRacks managing Director, “an opportunity that has not been previously been made available to the commercial marketplace.”

In the video below, a preview of the new platform.

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