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SMi Military Space USA 2019  Satellite Communications Technology

Thales Alenia Space reaches key milestone for NanoRacks' airlock module

(20 March 2019 - Thales Alenia Space) Thales Alenia Space has announced that the shell for Bishop airlock module is ready for ship to the NanoRacks integration facility in Houston, Texas.

The NanoRacks airlock module - dubbed "Bishop" - is the first-ever commercial airlock that will operate on the International Space Station. Owned and operated by NanoRacks, Bishop will be a permanent commercial module on the ISS. It can also be removed from the ISS for use on future commercial platforms under the NanoRacks Space Outpost Program. Bishop will offer five times more satellite deployment volume than opportunities available on the ISS today. It is scheduled to launch on the SpaceX CRS-21 service mission in January 2020.

Thales Alenia Space produced and tested the critical pressure shell for Bishop, as well as various secondary structures, including the Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) shields with multilayer insulation (MLI) panels, the power and video grapple fixture support structure and other structural components.

NanoRacks is responsible for project management, mechanical and avionics design engineering, safety, operations, quality assurance, mockups and crew training, as well as the final assembly, integration and testing of the Bishop airlock.

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Bishop airlock (courtesy: Thales Alenia Space)

"We're extremely proud to have reached this key milestone," said Walter Cugno, Vice President, Exploration and Science at Thales Alenia Space. "Working with NanoRacks is a great opportunity. We're bringing to this program over 40 years of experience in design and production of advanced technology solutions connected with the International Space Station and will continue to provide these capabilities for future business opportunities in new commercial markets."

About NanoRacks

NanoRacks LLC, an XO Markets company, is the world’s leading commercial space station company. NanoRacks believes commercial space utilization will enable innovation through in-space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, fiber optics – and more, allow for transformational Earth observation, and make space a key player in finding the solution to Earth’s problems. Today, the company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research, and more –in over 30 nations worldwide. Since 2009, Texas-based NanoRacks has truly created new markets and ushered in a new era of in-space-services, dedicated to making space just another place to do business. In 2017, the Company announced their long-term plans via the NanoRacks Space Outpost Program. This program is dedicated to the repurposing of the upper stages of launch vehicles in-space and converting these structures into commercial habitats, both humanly and robotically tended, throughout the solar system.

About Altec

ALTEC - Aerospace Logistics Technology Engineering Company- is a public-private company owned by Thales Alenia Space Italy and the Italian Space Agency (ASI). In seventeen years of activity (March 2001) ALTEC has established itself internationally as the Italian center of excellence for the provision of engineering and logistics services to support operations and utilization of the International Space Station and the development and implementation of planetary exploration missions. Today, taking into account the evolution of the international space framework and the shareholder strategies, ALTEC has a strengthening and broadening of the tasks in the aerospace industry, with a stronger focus to the commercial activities and the emerging Space Economy. With its 80 employees, all highly skilled and qualified technicians, ALTEC is a key part of the space sector and in particular a focal point of attraction for the local economy.

About Thales Alenia Space

Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet’s – and our solar system’s – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind’s new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.5 billion euros in 2018 and has around 8,000 employees in nine countries.