This morning NASA announced a new policy on commercial Space Station utilization. For 10 years, NanoRacks has paved the way to ensure “government as customer” and that space is “just another place to do business.” Through our public-private partnerships with NASA we have brought over 750 payloads to the Space Station, we are building the first-ever commercial Airlock (Bishop) and we are the single largest private investor in the International Space Station to date.
First, let me congratulate Jim Bridenstine and the entire NASA team for taking the lessons we have all learned from commercial utilization and updating them for the next, very competitive, decade. There is no “how-to” guide for this, and it’s not going to be easy. But together, we are laying the framework to make an ecosystem in space possible, and more importantly, sustainable.
The key policy points announced are: Allowance of private astronauts, Request for Information on charging for commercial payloads, and most importantly, two Requests for Proposals on commercial platforms – one to be docked to the space station, the other, a free flyer.
It is also important to note what is not changing. NanoRacks, through its various Space Act Agreements, will continue to send payloads to the Space Station on behalf of customers around the world. To all of our customers and friends, business will stay as usual for scientific, technology demonstration, and educational payloads.
NanoRacks believes it is well-positioned to facilitate the further growth of the emerging low-Earth orbit marketplace. Over the last decade, we have developed a deep understanding of customer needs that have been forged in the marketplace, not through market studies.
For now, we are analyzing the right pathways for us to compete for these new opportunities, both in terms of hardware and services. The devil is in the details and the stakes are high. We face competition from not only non-market space programs, but from global space agencies embarking on the same commercial pathway. If we get this wrong, America’s robustness in space may be in jeopardy.
We at NanoRacks look forward to working with all of the stakeholders in the Space Station community to strike the right balance between the taxpayer investment and the commercial industry.
Today’s announcement is an exciting step forward as we simultaneously prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and America’s going forward to the Moon, “this time to stay!”
Jeffrey Manber, CEO