2017: What a Year!
2017 has been quite the year at NanoRacks.
The year began with our announcement that Boeing has signed on as a partner in our commercial Space Station Airlock program, and I’m pleased to say that everything is progressing smoothly as we work towards our 2019 launch date. And trust me, we’ll have more Airlock updates as we kick off the new year.
Our External Platform began its second mission after astronauts on board the Station swapped payloads, placing Thermo Fisher Scientific/Florida Institute of Technology’s “CID” and Honeywell Aerospace/Morehead State University’s “DM7” outside the station. In May, we completed our largest CubeSat deployment cycle from Space Station, deploying the QB50 constellation into low-Earth orbit, including university satellites from Israel, Canada, Australia, Korea, Spain, Germany, France and more, in coordination with the von Karman Institute.
We brought the first-ever Chinese experiment to the International Space Station, studying the effects of the space radiation environment on DNA and the changes in mutation rate. Working in compliance with the Wolf Amendment, NanoRacks showed again that commercial access is the way of the future for international participation in space programs.
NanoRacks also announced new opportunities for customers, including that we now offer our services on India’s PSLV rocket and that customers can build to a new, larger, CubeSat form-factor, the “Doublewide.”
We deployed our first two MicroSats using our new Kaber Deployer, which included the first-ever on-orbit assembly of a satellite – an area we see significant growth in over the coming years. The NovaWurks SIMPL satellite pioneered the Hyper-Integrated Satlet (HISat™) technology, a concept to assemble larger satellites from small independent “cells” called satlets. NanoRacks delivered SIMPL in a few groups, and then the satellite was assembled by the astronaut crew..
Next, NanoRacks, along with Space Systems Loral, ULA, and Space Adventures, successfully completed our NASA NextSTEP Phase II Ixion study on the repurposing of the upper stages of ULA’s Atlas V into commercial habitats, and we’re really excited to share some results with you next year, and to take our idea from concept to reality.
The idea that we proved that in-space repurposing is doable is, to me, a very significant development offering multiple pathways for commercial platforms at efficient cost levels.
This year, along with our sister company, DreamUp, we implemented educational kits for Space Station research, coming to a store near you very soon.
We nearly wrapped up the year with our largest External Cygnus Deployment Mission to date, serving as the primary program on Cygnus’ secondary mission after departing the Space Station.
These deployments brought NanoRacks to over 200 satellites deployed since we began our program in 2014. We also hit the 600 mark for payloads undertaken on the Space Station, including customers from over 30 nations.
But of course, our very last mission of the year was on Blue Origin’s first commercial flight of New Shepard, integrating our largest payload manifest to date on the suborbital rocket. This was New Shepard’s 7th flight, and the third in which NanoRacks has managed customer payload integration.
And 2017 also marked our successful Space Angels-led Bridge Round; an important milestone for staying on track with the Airlock.
If that’s not a full year, I don’t know what is! But above all else, I’m proud this was all accomplished as Mother Nature slammed us in Houston, upsetting the lives of so many, including our staff and colleagues. But everyone kept going, rebuilding and emerging stronger than ever.
We’re looking at an even more important 2018, doing even more on the International Space Station, and moving into cis-lunar programs and other very cool in-space services. We believe we are truly democratizing the frontier of space every day, with every customer and every new opportunity.
I hope you follow along with us for the ride.
Have a great holiday season, and we’ll see you in the New Year.
Chief Executive Officer