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International Astronautical Federation Selects Nanoracks to Receive IAF Excellence in Industry Award for Bishop Airlock

Bishop Airlock ISS hosting

We are thrilled to share that the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) has selected Nanoracks to receive the 2022 IAF Excellence in Industry Award (Small & Medium Business) for its exceptional merits in the space arena. Nanoracks’ Chief Innovation Officer, Mike Lewis, accepted the award at a ceremony hosted by IAF in Paris at the 73rd International Astronautical Congress.

The IAF Excellence in Industry Award is intended to distinguish commercial industry organizations worldwide for introducing innovative space technologies to the global marketplace and is recognized throughout the space industry for successfully executing a landmark space mission. The IAF selected Nanoracks for this award specifically for the development of the Bishop Airlock as the first permanent, commercial module on the International Space Station (ISS).

“Thank you to the IAF for honoring Nanoracks with this distinguished award,” said Lewis. “The development, launch, and operation of the Bishop Airlock is a historic achievement for Nanoracks, our partners, and most importantly, our customers. Bishop enables hardware and space-readiness testing, satellite deployment, and a proving ground for developing novel in-space infrastructure on the largest possible scale on the ISS. The Bishop Airlock is one of many industry-altering achievements we have enjoyed at Nanoracks, and we do not plan on slowing down.”

Nanoracks Bishop Airlock on the ISS
The Bishop Airlock seen in deployment configuration on the International Space Station in July 2022

The Bishop Airlock is the first permanent, commercial addition to the Space Station and was privately funded. The concept for the Bishop Airlock was developed after Nanoracks encountered a bottleneck on the Space Station with too much commercial customer demand for the limited space and opening frequency of the government-operated airlock. Bishop is a doorway to space, offering five times the payload volume than was previously available on the JEM Airlock. The capabilities of Bishop are unique and include the deployment of free-flying payloads such as CubeSats and externally-mounted payloads, housing of small payloads for research and in-space manufacturing, jettisoning trash, and recovering Orbital Replacement Units (ORUs).

Bishop flew to the ISS on SpaceX-21, a Commercial Resupply Service mission, on December 6, 2020, and was successfully installed and commissioned in early 2021.

The first Bishop Airlock mission was in partnership with GITAI, a Japanese-based robotics startup that successfully demonstrated robotic arms completing versatile tasks inside the Space Station. GITAI recently signed on to complete a second mission on Bishop, this time operating their robotic arms in the external space environment. More recently, Nanoracks partnered with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to deploy first-of-its-kind technology to dispose of waste from the Space Station. Leveraging a specially designed waste container, this disposal method can allow NASA to better utilize the Cygnus cargo spacecraft, rather than using it to collect trash.

It is the most recent in a line of Nanoracks owned and marketed hardware on the ISS. The hardware, which is used for research and technology demonstration, is open to commercial, educational, and government users, and is the first step towards a commercial space station.

Learn more about the Bishop Airlock, here.

The IAF Excellence in Industry Award nominations are reviewed by the IRC Award Subcommittee and then final selections are made by the IAF Bureau based on selection criteria ensuring the organization is recognized across the global space community for outstanding and sustainable advancements in civil space.

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