NanoRacks Awarded Study to Help Develop Vibrant Future Commercial Space Economy

Dear Friends,

Last week, NASA announced the awardees for an ongoing effort to foster commercial activity in space. This effort allows 13 companies to study the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit, including long-term opportunities for the International Space Station.

I’m pleased to share that NanoRacks is one of these awardees.

This study is not only a big step for NanoRacks, but a big step for the commercial space ecosystem. Today, we are the largest commercial user of the International Space Station and are proud of the impact we’ve made to help foster this ecosystem and bring customers from all over the world into to orbit. This study will allow us to take our vision to the next step and detail the viability for habitable and automated platforms for low-Earth orbit.

Through this award, we will investigate the commercial case for the repurposing of in-space hardware via our NanoRacks Space Outpost Program, a concept we have already proven to be technically feasible from our NASA NextSTEP Phase II award. We will work with three types of partners in this study including: hardware providers, finance partners, and our current and future customers. What was once science fiction in our industry is now fast becoming a reality—commercial outposts at low-cost for factories, warehouses, hotels, office buildings, and more!

We’re on the cusp of a new-age in space, and with our cost-effective approach, we’re confident in the future of the commercial space marketplace, from low-Earth orbit, to the Moon, and into deep space.

The full announcement from NASA can be found here:

You can learn more about our Outpost Program at

Jeffrey Manber
CEO, NanoRacks

NanoRacks and NASA Sign NextSTEP Contract for Commercial Habitat Concept Study

This week marks an important milestone for NanoRacks. NanoRacks and NASA have signed the contract for INDEPENDENCE-1, a commercial habitat concept study first announced last summer. INDEPENDENCE-1 will be the first outpost in NanoRacks' Space Outpost Program. The contract will focus on repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages. NanoRacks is working with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to provide launch services and Space Systems Loral who will provide robotic outfitting capabilities.

Funded by the NASA NextSTEP-2 award, the INDEPENDENCE-1 concept is the only one of the NASA-funded programs that focuses on repurposing spent launch vehicle upper stages.

For us, at NanoRacks, the signing of the agreement marks a broader milestone: the public start of our commitment to bring about cost-efficient, commercial space stations via re-purposing in-space hardware, and we can’t wait to bring you along for the ride into the future.

Every step NanoRacks takes on the International Space Station (ISS) is preparing us for building on our vision of the future – a world where launches are plentiful, the in-space destination is king – and commercial habitats and space stations populate our solar system with customers from every sector of our society.

Starting with plug-and-play research modules, we’ve mastered how to operate science labs in microgravity and leverage the astronaut expertise onboard, while also building up robotics programs for increased automation and efficiency. We’ve stimulated the growth of the satellite deployment market as the leading provider for CubeSat services in low-Earth orbit, with one of the world’s most diverse customer bases. We’re learning how to operate in the extreme space environment, while limiting space debris, with our External Platform.

The NanoRacks Space Outpost Program is a new addition to NASA’s NextSTEP effort, and will begin by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study evaluating the conversion of rocket upper stages into habitats. This innovative approach offers a pathway that is more affordable and involves less risk than fabricating modules on the ground and subsequently launching them into orbit.

Additionally, the NanoRacks Space Outpost Program proposes demonstrating this revolutionary, low-cost concept via the conversion of a Centaur rocket upper stage, which can be attached to the ISS. After the converted Centaur upper stage is attached to the ISS, our team will leverage the habitat as a proving ground for a variety of private sector activities leading to a new era in commercial low-Earth orbit utilization.

NASA has made it clear that the International Space Station will be the last U.S. government-funded space station in low-Earth orbit – and all of us at NanoRacks believe we are well positioned to be one of the commercial leaders as NASA focuses on taking America into deep space.

Let the designing begin.

Jeffrey Manber
CEO, NanoRacks