NASA's Atlantis to Ferry Commercial Expansion of Research Capacity on International Space Station

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The second NanoRacks research platform scheduled for the U.S. National Lab on space station is poised for launch this afternoon on the final mission of Atlantis. The Platforms are the industry's first open source, standardized racks which allow for research low enough for students and sophisticated enough for corporate researchers.

The research opportunities at the U.S. National Lab on the International Space Station are about to increase thanks to NanoRacks LLC. The company, an entrepreneurial venture, has developed a low cost facility for industrial and educational micro-gravity research on the space station. The company's second research platform is slated to blast off this week on board the space shuttle Atlantis.

Under a Space Act Agreement with NASA for the use of the ISS National Lab on the International Space Station, NanoRacks’s second research platform will join the first one that is already on the station. An astronaut will activate both platforms within the next month.

The NanoRacks Research Platforms are designed for use within the pressurized space station environment. Each Platform allows up to 16 customer payloads to effortlessly plug into a standard USB connector, thus providing power and data connectivity in one simple operation. It is the ultimate plug and play for space research.

“Our business model is based on the need for research standardization," explained NanoRacks Managing Director Jeffrey Manber. “Everyone uses the same form factor hardware and the astronauts just plug the payloads into the Platform slots."

Prices begin at $25,000 for students for a month long research project and rise higher for corporate research. Adds Manber, “We give you 30 days of research time, set power, and scheduled data downloads. Additional services are available at a higher cost – but we’ve purposely kept the entry cost as low as possible."

The NanoRacks team includes Kentucky Space, a nonprofit enterprise which manages the payload integration and oversees the Mission Control room at the University of Kentucky. “We take seriously the opportunity to bring a new kind of fast-paced innovation and low-cost to space station research" said Kris Kimel of Kentucky Space.

NanoRacks has already signed five customers, including a high school in San Jose California and a pharmaceutical research project.

"We fully believe in the capabilities of the U.S. National Laboratory," explains Manber. With the ability to fly on any ISS launch vehicle, with our low prices, and with the ease of our system, operational space research is at long last coming of age."

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