New Space Station Airlock could send payloads to moon
September 16, 2020 3:08 AM   Subscribe

Nanoracks has created a new airlock that will allow cargo storage on the International Space Station. This would increase the number of missions that could be done on the space station as it presently only has three airlocks. Web page also contains interesting video demonstration.

This was another interesting site which shows how the previous airlock could zap cargo onto the moon via a nifty navigation method. Cargo would have to be small and would take months to get to the moon.
posted by Narrative_Historian (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The video is on a page in another article linked to at the bottom of the page:

I'm completely confused by this. Why are the satellites brought onto the space station first? Why not just launch them directly into space?
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:18 AM on September 16, 2020 [2 favorites]

Here's a photo of Planet Labs cubesats being launched out of a Nanorack launcher.

I love the nanosats concept; there were some excellent articles around 2013, 2014 describing what was then a revolutionary idea. Launch something about the size and complexity of an iPhone into space for very cheap. The idea is now so common it's taken for granted but 10 years ago very few people were imagining it.

As for why they launch the satellites from the ISS and not directly, this article says a bit. Sounds like it's a bunch of logistical things. You can pack a bunch of cubesats tight in a vibration proof container and get them to the ISS, where they are then unpacked and prepared and put into orbit at leisure. Also there's a bunch of rockets already going up to ISS; part of the Nanoracks business model is they're cheaply buying the odd 12.3kg of leftover launch capacity that the bigger mission has left over.

The launcher is hilarious, it's basically a spring loaded mechanical thing that just sort of pushes the cubesats away from the ISS orbit.
posted by Nelson at 7:35 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

The article is from 2017 and predicts deployment in 2019. Did that happen? Is this project still on track?
posted by thecjm at 8:38 AM on September 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

Looks like it's due to launch in 43 days. Lots more info on Nanoracks' site.
posted by Nelson at 8:52 AM on September 16, 2020

mechanical thing that just sort of pushes the cubesats away from the ISS orbit.

From the frame of reference of the satellite this is pretty similar to a quick burn for thrust.
posted by jaduncan at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2020

Yes, in space no one can hear you spring.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2020

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