Nanoracks LLC is a private company that develops products and offers services for the commercial utilization of space.[1]

Founded2009; 11 years ago (2009)
Number of locations
5 (4 are terrestrial, 1 is lab space on ISS in low-Earth orbit)
Key people
Jeffrey Manber, Richard Pournelle, Chris Cummins, Richard Gruver, Mike Lewis, Marcia Blount, Carl Carruthers
Servicesin-space services; small satellite launch services; CubeSat launch services; microgravity payload integration
Number of employees
approximately 75

Nanoracks hosts a CubeSat Deployer and equipment for experiments on the International Space Station (ISS). Nanoracks services include reviewing space payloads to ensure they meet NASA's safety and other technical requirements.[2] In July 2015, Nanoracks announced an agreement with Blue Origin to offer business development services for the Blue Shepard New Shepard Suborbital Vehicle.[3] In August 2016, the Nanoracks-led Ixion Initiative Team, which also includes Space Systems Loral and United Launch Alliance, was selected as one of NASA's NextSTEP-2 partnerships to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study on repurposing rocket upper stages into commercial space station habitats.[4][5]

Nanoracks’s main office is in Houston, Texas, alongside the NASA Johnson Space Center. The business development office is in Washington, D.C., and additional offices are located in Silicon Valley, the UAE and Europe.[6][7] Nanoracks provides tools, hardware and services that allow other companies, organizations and governments to conduct research and other projects in space.

Nanoracks facilities on the U.S. National Lab on the ISS include Nanolab research modules, a centrifuge, a plate reader, and MixStix mixing enclosures.[8] Since 2009, over 580 payloads have been sent to the International Space Station.

Nanoracks partners with the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, along with the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education.[9]

Nanoracks customers include the European Space Agency (ESA), the German Space Agency (DLR), NASA, US Government Agencies, Planet Labs, Urthecast, Space Florida, NCESSE, Virgin Galactic, pharmaceutical drug companies, and organizations in Vietnam, UK, Romania and Israel.[3]

Nanoracks is part of XO Markets, a holding company for commercial space exploration.[10]


(25 Feb. 2014) -- 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

Nanoracks was founded in 2009 by Jeffrey Manber[11] and Charles Miller[12][13][14] 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.[15]

MirCorp CEO Jeff Manber oversaw the first and only commercially funded mission of the Russian space station, which lasted over 70 days. Manber was, and still is, the only American to ever work officially for the Russian space program.

As of January 2020, over 800 payloads have been deployed by Nanoracks to the International Space Station.[16]

As of June 2015, Nanoracks has deployed 64 satellites into Lower Earth Orbit, and had 16 satellites on the ISS awaiting deployment, with an order backlog of 99.[17]

As of August 2017, 580 payloads have been launched to the International Space Station, including the deployment of nearly 200 CubeSats from the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD).

In 2012, Nanoracks "generated more than $3 million in revenue, of which only one-quarter comes from NASA."[18]

In August 2012, Nanoracks partnered with Space Florida to host the Space Florida International Space Station (ISS) Research Competition.[19] 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 Lab.[20]

In October 2013, Nanoracks became the first company to coordinate the deployment of small satellites from the ISS via the airlock in the Japanese KIBO module. This deployment was done by Nanoracks using the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM) Small Satellite Orbital Deployer (J-SSOD).[21]

The NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer was launched on January 9, 2014, on the Orbital Sciences Cygnus Orb-1 Mission.[22] It became the first commercial platform to deploy satellites from the ISS.

In December 2014,, the website for the educational arm of Nanoracks, was launched.[23] DreamUp offers access to commercial research platforms in suborbital and low-Earth orbit. The DreamUp Advisory Board, made up of industry experts Ken Shields and Jeffrey Manber assigns ‘DreamUp Approved’ status to projects declared realistic, doable, and in accordance with standard safety criteria. Through partnerships with organizations such as SSEP and Valley Christian High School, Nanoracks and DreamUp have helped launch dozens of student experiments to space and immerse hundreds of students in the space research experience.

In July 2015, Nanoracks announced it was teaming with Blue Origin to provide standardized, commercial payload accommodation services on Blue Origin's New Shepard Suborbital Vehicle. Nanoracks provided services such as payload design and development, safety approvals, and integration for suborbital research payloads.[3][24]

In August 2015, NanoRacks announced a historic 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. NanoRacks will then send data back to the Chinese researchers.[25]

In August 2015, the NanoRacks External Payload Platform (NREP) was successfully launched to the ISS on the fifth flight of the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The external platform will be able to accommodate up to 9 4U CubeSat-size payloads outside of the space station with a standard mission duration of 15 weeks. The platform is operational as of August 2016.[26][27]

In August 2015, Space Angels Network joined with Nanoracks and DreamUp to support and invest in STEM education and early stage-space companies by using the DreamUp Approved system.[28]

In December 2015, Nanoracks announced the formal creation of DreamUp, PBC. The goal behind DreamUp, PBC. was to make space research available to university students and researchers in the U.S. as well as a dozen other countries. Via crowdfunding, DreamUp hopes to take space-based education to a “whole new level.”

Nanoracks Flight HistoryEdit

09/14/2017 – SpaceX-12

06/03/2017 – SpaceX-11

02/19/2017 – SpaceX-10

04/18/2017 – OA-7 – Cygnus

03/23/2016 – OA-6 – Cygnus

02/19/2017 – SpaceX-10 – Dragon

12/09/2016 – HTV-6

10/17/2016 – OA-5 – Antares, Cygnus

07/18/2016 – SpaceX-9 – Dragon

04/08/2016 – SpaceX-8 – Dragon

06/28/2015 – SpaceX-7 – Dragon (Failed Launch)

04/14/2015 – SpaceX-6 – Dragon

01/10/2015 – SpaceX-5 – Dragon

10/28/2014 – Orb-3 – Cygnus (Failed Launch)

09/23/2014 – SpaceX-4 – Dragon

07/13/2014 – Orb-2 – Cygnus

04/18/2014 – SpaceX-3 – Dragon

01/09/2014 – Orb-1 – Cygnus

09/18/2013 – Orb-D1 – Cygnus

08/03/2013 – HTV-4

06/05/2013 – ATV-4

07/21/2012 – HTV-3

03/23/2012 – ATV-3

03/01/2013 – SpaceX-2

10/08/2012 – SpaceX-1

05/28/2013 – Soyuz 35S

03/28/2013 – Soyuz 34S

07/15/2012 – Soyuz 31S

07/08/2011 – STS-135

05/16/2011 – STS-134

04/28/2010 – Progress M-05M

Facilities and labsEdit

Internal ISS ServicesEdit

Nanoracks facilities on the International Space Station (ISS) include:

  • Nanoracks Frame-3 accommodates a total of 3 4U payloads (with the dimensions 10 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm) and has advanced features such as an internal computer with its own crew interface facility for easier payload software development. The Frame-3 can also provide up to 50W of power to a payload through a USB or other forms of data connections.
  • Nanoracks MixStix – Nanoracks’ Mixture Enclosure Tubes (Mixstix) hold up to twenty-four mixing sticks. This enclosure allows for microgravity reactions and materials to be captured for analysis on the ISS, or returned to Earth via either the Soyuz or SpaceX's Dragon. The MixStix are activated, and analysis begins, after the mixing stick is cracked open by an ISS crewmember, similar to activating a glow stick.
  • Nanoracks Microscope-3 – The third generation Nanoracks microscope system is a hand-held USB digital microscope with 20-240X magnification that creates 5MP pictures or video. Seven white LEDs provide lighting and the scope has a polarizing filter to reduce glare. Microscope-3 can also be mounted to its XY translation stage for extra stability. Two microplate holders can accommodate low profile microplates. The microplate holders are black or white for the specific research background required.[29]
  • Nanoracks 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.[30][31] Lab space on the ISS is provided to Nanoracks by NASA under a contractual lease arrangement.[32]
  • Nanoracks-Black Box is an essential part of Nanoracks's next-gen International Space Station platforms. This platform was designed to increase the payload turnover of autonomous payloads while simultaneously providing advanced scientific capabilities to customers, including the use of robotics, new automated MixStix, and NanoLab-style research. The platform itself is the size of a locker and can accommodate payloads up to 18U. Black Box was first utilized on the OA-5 resupply mission.

External ISS ServicesEdit

Nanoracks deploys small CubeSats into orbit from the ISS through the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer via the airlock in the Japanese Kibo 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 meter per second (3.3 ft/s) that begins a slow process of satellite separation from the ISS.[32]

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.

Each CubeSat deployer is capable of holding 48U of CubeSats.

The Nanoracks External Platform (NREP) was successfully installed in August 2016. The self-funded NREP is the first-ever commercial gateway-and-return to the extreme environment of space. Following the CubeSat form factor, payloads can now experience the microgravity, radiation and other harsh elements native to the space environment, observe earth, test sensors, materials, and electronics, all while having the opportunity to return the payload back to Earth.[27]

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

The Nanoracks Kaber Microsat Deployer is a reusable system that allows the International Space Station to control and command satellite deployments. The Kaber was developed based off Nanoracks’s experience deploying CubeSats from the ISS. This service enables Nanoracks to 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.

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, soaring 500 kilometers above the Earth and ca. 100 kilometers above the ISS, this service opens the door for the development of new technology, in addition to extending 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.

E-NRCSD Missions:

  • The OA-6 mission was launched 23 March 2016 at 3:05:52 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 OA-6 resupply mission was completed, and the Cygnus was unberthed from the station, these two services got the chance to perform unprecedented, weeklong scientific experiments. The Saffire's purpose was to study combustion in microgravity, which was done once Cygnus left the ISS. Likewise, in between the 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.
  • The OA-5 mission was launched 17 October 2016 at 23:45 UTC. On November 25, 2016, during the OA-5 resupply mission, Nanoracks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats from the Cygnus Cargo Vehicle from a 500-kilometer orbit. “The External Cygnus Deployment program was developed with the customer in-mind,” says Nanoracks CTO Mike Lewis. Reusing and repurposing in-space vehicles is a quintessential part of Nanoracks’s vision.
  • The OA-7 mission was launched 18 April 2017 at 15:11:26 UTC. On Cygnus’ eighth resupply mission, Nanoracks successfully deployed four Spire LEMUR-2 CubeSats at a nearly 500-kilometer orbit. Since then, Nanoracks has continued to grow its External Deployment program, which is focused on extending the mission of cargo vehicles after Cygnus's deployment from the ISS. This program is a stepping-stone in Nanoracks’s larger goal: the repurposing of in-space vehicles. The OA-7 launch accompanied the Company's largest CubeSat mission to date. During this mission, a total of 38 satellites were released into orbit.
  • The OA-8 mission was targeting a launch in September, with the OA-9E mission slated for 2018.

PSLV ServicesEdit

Recently, Nanoracks announced that the company is adding polar orbit launches to their resume. The company plans to work with Berlin-based Astrofein to create and supply the deployers. In addition, Nanoracks is seeking help from the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization, Antrix, for Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) services.

Due to recent customer demands for polar orbits, Nanoracks plans on seeing it through. These polar orbit opportunities come in addition to Nanoracks’s numerous deployments of satellites via the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (NRCSD) and Kaber Deployer on the ISS as well as the External Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (E-NRCSD) mounted outside of the Cygnus spacecraft.

Nanoracks chose to partner with Astrofein due to their 20 years of experience in aviation and spaceflight and 100 percent success rate.

Blue Origin ServicesEdit

Blue Origin's New Shepard space vehicle grants customers the opportunity to research Earth, atmospheric, and space sciences. It can also be implemented for land use as well as technological and space systems development.

The New Shepard was designed for users to explore microgravity physics and gravitational biology, as well as for technological demonstrations. Its primary capabilities include its ability to frequently launch payloads, high volume cabin that can host multiple experiments (and researchers), and rapid post-landing access, in addition to the many interfaces available to mount experiments.

The New Shepard comes in two sizes, single and double. The single size has a payload mass of 25 lbs (11.34 kg) and a payload volume of 1.73 ft3 (49 liters). The approximate interior dimensions are 20.3 x 16.5 x 9.0 in (51.6 x 41.8 x 22.9 cm), and can maintain 28 VDC, with a 200 W peak.

The double size has a payload mass of 50 lbs (22.68 kg) and a payload volume of 3.61 ft3 (102 liters). The approximate interior dimensions are 20.3 x 16.5 x 18.7 in (51.6 x 41.8 x 47.4 cm), and can maintain 28 VDC, with a 200 W peak.

Both have 32 GB of on-board storage with synchronized flight parameter measurements, and an extra 128 GB of video storage available for post-flight download.

Commercial Space StationsEdit

Nanoracks, after finalizing its contract with NASA, and after winning NextSTEPs Phase II award, is now developing its concept Independence-1 (previously known as Ixion), which would turn spent rocket tanks into a habitable living area to be tested in space. In Spring 2018, Nanoracks announced that Ixion is now known as the Independence-1, the first 'outpost' in Nanoracks' Space Outpost Program.

Bishop Airlock ModuleEdit

The NanoRacks Bishop Airlock Module is a commercially-funded airlock module intended to be launched to the International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-21 in August 2020.[33][34] The module is being built by NanoRacks, Thales Alenia Space, and Boeing.[35] It will be used to deploy CubeSats, small satellites, and other external payloads for NASA, CASIS, and other commercial and governmental customers.[36]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ Morring, Frank (2014-03-14). "Commercial Outpost: Next Steps on ISS may include private researchers" (PDF). Aviation Week.
  3. ^ a b c "NanoRacks Team With Blue Origin on Suborbital Research". NanoRacks. NanoRacks.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Nanoracks Grows Leadership Team". Nanoracks. Retrieved 2015-05-20.
  7. ^ "Nanoracks Announces First Head of European Operations". Nanoracks. Retrieved 2015-08-10.
  8. ^ "Internal Payloads". Nanoracks. January 1, 2015.
  9. ^ "Student Spaceflight Experiments Program". National Center for Earth and Space Science Education. October 30, 2012.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Our History". NanoRacks. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  12. ^ "The Space Show". Retrieved 2016-01-25.
  13. ^ "DataFox". Retrieved 2015-04-20.
  14. ^ "Space Policy Online". Retrieved 2015-09-14.
  15. ^ "Nanoracks Is Making Space Science Affordable For Everyone". Forbes. 2011-11-21. Retrieved 2013-02-25.
  16. ^
  17. ^ Foust, Jeff (2015-06-12). "Smallsat Developers Enjoy Growth In Launch Options". Space News. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  18. ^ Knapp, Alex (2013-03-04). "The Space Station Is The Final Frontier Of Bio Research". Forbes. Retrieved 2013-02-18.
  19. ^
  20. ^ Florida ISS Research Competition
  21. ^ JAXA. "F-1 and companion CubeSats to be deployed to space from Kibo module on September 27:Kibo Utilization Office for Asia (KUOA) – International Space Station – JAXA". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Spaceflight, Nanoracks Team Up on CubeSat Launches at Parabolic Arc". Retrieved 7 December 2014.
  23. ^ "DreamUp: Nanoracks Breaking New Ground in STEM Education". NanoRacks. Retrieved 2014-12-19.
  24. ^ Foust, Jeff (2015-07-16). "NanoRacks And Blue Origin Team To Fly Suborbital Research Payloads". SpaceNews. Retrieved 16 July 2015.
  25. ^ Berger, Eric (2015-08-03). "For the first time Chinese research to fly on NASA's space station". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 3 August 2015.
  26. ^ "NanoRacks External Platform, CubeSats, Launched to ISS on Japanese HTV-5". NanoRacks. NanoRacks. Archived from the original on 2015-12-29.
  27. ^ a b "NanoRacks External Platform Deployed Outside the ISS". Retrieved 2016-09-22.
  28. ^ "Nanoracks and Space Angels Network Join Forces to Better Identify Promising Start Ups". Space Angels Network. Archived from the original on 2015-10-27. Retrieved 2015-08-20.
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b Foust, Jeff (2014-03-24). "Making the most of the ISS". The Space Review. 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-27.
  33. ^ "Thales Alenia Space reaches key milestone for NanoRacks' airlock module". Thales Alenia Space (Press release). 20 March 2019. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  34. ^ Clark, Stephen (2 August 2019). "SpaceX to begin flights under new cargo resupply contract next year". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  35. ^ "NanoRacks, Boeing to Build First Commercial ISS Airlock Module". NanoRacks. 6 February 2017. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  36. ^ Garcia, Mark (6 February 2017). "Progress Underway for First Commercial Airlock on Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 22 August 2019.

External linksEdit