HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) – NanoRacks and Astrium North America are excited to announce that the first-ever commercial External Payload Platform for the International Space Station has entered NASA verification tests in preparation for a launch to the space station later this year.
This External Payload Platform (NREP) will provide low cost, repeatable access to the outside space environment as well as allowing payload return.
The External Payload Platform (NREP) will host payloads in the open space environment while attached to the JAXA Japanese External Facility (JEM-EF).
Media outlets in Costa Rica are reporting on a possible investment by Astrium North America in Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz’s Ad Astra Rocket Company, which is developing the VASIMR rocket.
The capital participation in Ad Astra will be in exchange for the construction of the Aurora platform to carry the VASIMR rocket on its initial trials in space. (A model of such a platform was constructed by a consortium of small local aerospace firms last year.)
Specifically, Astrium is interested in using VASIMR to power its Astrium Automated Transfer Vehicle or ATV. The ATV is currently in service transporting cargo to the International Space Station.
But the North American subsidiary is interested in using a VASIMR-powered version for such work as establishing and repositioning satellites and space vehicles. The plasma rocket has a longer range than normal chemical rockets and is cheaper to run as well.
Business opportunities were explored last April in a technical assistance agreement signed in the United States.