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Founded2009; 13 years ago (2009)
FounderJeffrey Manber
Number of locations
5 (4 are terrestrial, 1 is lab space on ISS in low-Earth orbit)
Key people
Jeffrey Manber and
Charles Miller
ServicesIn-space services;
Small satellite launch services;
CubeSat launch services;
Microgravity payload integration
Number of employees
approximately 75

Nanoracks LLC is a private in-space services company[1][2]which builds space hardware and in-space repurposing tools.[3]The company also facilitates experiments and launches of CubeSats to Low Earth Orbit.[4]

Nanoracks's main office is in Houston, Texas. The business development office is in Washington, D.C., and additional offices are located in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turin, Italy.[6][7] Nanoracks provides tools, hardware and services that allow other companies, organizations and governments to conduct research and other projects in space.[5]

Some of Nanoracks customers include Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP), the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Space Agency (DLR), NASA, Planet Labs, Space Florida, Virgin Galactic, Adidas, Aerospace Corporation, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), UAE Space Agency, Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), and the Beijing Institute of Technology.[citation needed]

Nanoracks currently helps facilitate science on the International Space Station in multiple ways and built the Bishop Airlock to launch payloads from the International Space Station.


A set of CubeSats is deployed by the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer attached to the end of the Japanese robotic arm on the International Space Station (25 February 2014).

Nanoracks was founded in 2009 by Jeffrey Manber[6] and Charles Miller[7][8][9] to provide commercial hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory on board the International Space Station via a Space Act Agreement with NASA. Nanoracks signed their first contract with NASA in September 2009 and had their first laboratory on the Space Station in April 2010.[5]

In August 2012, Nanoracks partnered with Space Florida to host the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition.[10] As part of this program, Nanoracks and DreamUp provide research NanoLab box units to fly payloads to the ISS, with scientific research to be conducted on board the U.S. National Laboratory.[11] In October 2013, Nanoracks became the first company to coordinate the deployment of small satellites from the ISS via the airlock in the Japanese Kibō module. This deployment was done using the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD).[12]

By 2015, Nanoracks had deployed 64 satellites into low Earth orbit, and had 16 satellites on the ISS awaiting deployment, with an order backlog of 99.[13] The company also announced an agreement to fly a Chinese DNA experiment from the Beijing Institute of Technology on the International Space Station. The agreement includes Nanoracks delivering the experiment to the American side of the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and berthing the experiment to Nanoracks' orbiting laboratory facilities, then sending data back to the Chinese researchers.[14] In 2022, Nanoracks became the first company to cut a piece of metal in space.[15]

Facilities and labs[edit]

Nanoracks Bishop Airlock[edit]

The Nanoracks Bishop Airlock is a commercially-funded airlock module launched to the International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-21 on 6 December 2020.[16][17] The module was built by Nanoracks, Thales Alenia Space, and Boeing.[18][better source needed] It will be used to deploy CubeSats, small satellites, and other external payloads for NASA, Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), and other commercial and governmental customers.[19]

Internal ISS Services[edit]

Nanoracks facilities on the International Space Station (ISS) include the Plate Reader-2 – a Molecular Devices SpectraMax M5e modified for space flight and the microgravity environment. This spectrophotometer analyzes samples by shining light (200-1000 nm) either on or through the top or bottom of each sample in the well of a microplate. The Nanoracks Plate Reader-2 can accommodate cuvettes in special microplate holders as well as 6-, 12-, 24-, 48-, 96-, and 384-well microplates. It can operate in absorbance, fluorescence intensity, or fluorescence polarization modes.[20][21] Laboratory space on the ISS is provided to Nanoracks by NASA under a contractual lease arrangement.[22]

External ISS Services[edit]

Nanoracks deploys small CubeSats into orbit from the ISS through the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer via the airlock in the Japanese Kibō module, after the satellites are transported to the ISS on a cargo spacecraft. When released, the small satellites are provided a push of about 1 m/s (3.3 ft/s) that begins a slow process of satellite separation from the ISS.[22]

The Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) is a self-contained deployment system that mechanically and electrically isolates CubeSats from the ISS, the ISS crew, and cargo resupply vehicles. The design of the NRCSD is compliant with the ISS flight safety requirements and is space qualified. The deployer is composed of anodized aluminum plates, access panels, deployer doors, and a base plate assembly. The inside of the NRCSD is designed to minimize and/or preclude the jamming of CubeSat appendages during deployment.[citation needed]

External Platform (NREP)[edit]

JAXA astronaut Takuya Onishi (background) and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins (foreground) prepare the Nanoracks External Platform (NREP) for installation.

The Nanoracks External Platform (NREP), installed in August 2016, is a commercial gateway-and-return to the extreme environment of space. Following the CubeSat form factor, payloads experience the microgravity, radiation and other harsh elements native to the space environment, observe earth, test sensors, materials, and electronics, and can return the payload to Earth.[citation needed]

The Nanoracks Kaber Microsat Deployer is a reusable system that allows the International Space Station to control and command satellite deployments. It can deploy microsatellites up to 82 kg into space. Microsatellites that are compatible with the Kaber Deployer have additional power, volume, and communication resources, which allows for deployments of higher scope and sophistication.[citation needed]

External Cygnus Deployer (E-NRCSD)[edit]

The satellite deployment service enabled satellites to be deployed at an altitude higher than the ISS via a Commercial Resupply Vehicle. These satellites are deployed after the completion of the primary cargo delivery mission and can fly at 500 kilometers above Earth and ca. 100 kilometers above the ISS and extends the life of CubeSats already deployed in low-Earth orbit. The Cygnus Deployer holds a total volume of 36U and adds approximately two years to the lifespan of these satellites.[citation needed]

E-NRCSD missions:

  • The Cygnus CRS OA-6 mission was launched 23 March 2016 at 03:05:52 UTC. Inside the Cygnus was the Saffire scientific payload. Mounted outside of the Cygnus was a CubeSat deployer by Nanoracks. Both of these systems remained inactive during the Cygnus docking at the ISS. After the CRS OA-6 resupply mission was completed, and the Cygnus was unberthed from the station and performed scientific experiments. The Saffire's purpose was to study combustion in microgravity, which was done once Cygnus left the ISS. Likewise, in between the CRS OA-6's initiation and its reentry into Earth's atmosphere, numerous Cubesats were deployed into orbit for the commercial entities that built and operate them.[citation needed]
  • The Cygnus CRS OA-5 mission was launched 17 October 2016 at 23:45 UTC. On 25 November 2016, during the CRS OA-5 resupply mission, Nanoracks deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from the Cygnus Cargo Vehicle from a 500-kilometer orbit.[citation needed]
  • The Cygnus CRS OA-7 mission was launched 18 April 2017 at 15:11:26 UTC. On Cygnus' eighth resupply mission, Nanoracks deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats at a nearly 500-kilometer orbit.[citation needed]
  • The Cygnus CRS OA-8E mission was launched 12 November 2017, 12:19:51 UTC.[23]
  • Cygnus CRS OA-9E mission was launched 21 May 2018, 08:44:06 UTC.[24]

Mars Demo-1[edit]

Mars Demo-1 (OMD-1) is a self-contained hosted payload platform to demonstrate the robotic cutting of second stage representative tank material on-orbit.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Testimony of Mr. Jeffrey Manber before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation" (PDF). 9 April 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Garud-Barna, Sumedha (17 November 2014). "NanoRacks". NASA. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Our Vision for Commercial Space Exploration". Nanoracks. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  4. ^ Clark, Stephen. "Nanoracks experiment poised to demonstrate metal cutting in orbit – Spaceflight Now". Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Nanoracks Is Making Space Science Affordable For Everyone". Forbes. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Our History". Nanoracks. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
  7. ^ "The Space Show". Retrieved 25 January 2016.
  8. ^ "DataFox". Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Space Policy Online". Archived from the original on 8 September 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  10. ^ Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  11. ^ Florida ISS Research Competition
  12. ^ "F-1 and companion CubeSats to be deployed to space from Kibō module on 27 September 2014: Kibō Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA) – International Space Station". JAXA. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  13. ^ Foust, Jeff (12 June 2015). "Smallsat Developers Enjoy Growth In Launch Options". SpaceNews. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  14. ^ Berger, Eric (3 August 2015). "For the first time Chinese research to fly on NASA's space station". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  15. ^ Alamalhodaei, Aria (16 September 2022). "Nanoracks cut a piece of metal in space for the first time". TechCrunch. Retrieved 16 September 2022.
  16. ^ "Thales Alenia Space reaches key milestone for Nanoracks' airlock module" (Press release). Thales Alenia Space. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  17. ^ Clark, Stephen (2 August 2019). "SpaceX to begin flights under new cargo resupply contract next year". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  18. ^ "Nanoracks, Boeing to Build First Commercial ISS Airlock Module". Nanoracks. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  19. ^ Garcia, Mark (6 February 2017). "Progress Underway for First Commercial Airlock on Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 22 August 2019. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  20. ^ "Launching Second Generation Plate Reader to the ISS". 12 July 2016.
  21. ^ "SpectraMax M Series Multi-Mode Microplate Readers". Molecular Devices. Retrieved 12 August 2021.
  22. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (24 March 2014). "Making the most of the ISS". The Space Review. 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Cygnus "S.S. Gene Cernan" En-Route to Space Station after Sunday Morning Commute to Orbit – Spaceflight101". 12 November 2017. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  24. ^ Clark, Stephen (21 May 2018). "Antares rocket launch kicks off space station's next commercial cargo delivery – Spaceflight Now". Retrieved 19 July 2022.
  25. ^ Berger, Eric (23 October 2019). "50 years after NASA discarded the wet workshop, a company aims to revive it". Ars Technica. Retrieved 29 March 2021.