Watch the ISS Attach Its New Doorway to Space
The International Space Station (ISS) now has a new door to space.
A video (above) posted by NASA on Monday shows the station’s robotic arm operated by Mission Control staff in Houston. He detaches the Bishop Airlock from the trunk of SpaceX’s recently docked Cargo Dragon capsule and then connects it to the station’s tranquility module.
The new bell-shaped airlock was built by Nanoracks of Texas and is the first permanent commercial expansion of the space station in the orbiting outpost’s 20-year history.
NASA said the new airlock will be used by commercial customers for payload deployments as well as moving equipment from one location to another outside the station. It is also used to dispose of garbage that accumulates on board from earth residents outside the home
The Bischofs Airlock is 8 feet in diameter and 7 feet high, weighs more than a ton, and is automatically disengaged and reattached every time it is needed.
So far, the station’s only module for sending objects into space has been the Japanese Airlock experimental module, which was added to the ISS 12 years ago.
With a size five times the size of the Japanese airlock, Nanoracks’ module offers new opportunities to conduct a wider range of scientific work with larger payloads that can be sent through the door into space, while larger payloads are now easier can be introduced, too.
“Anyone who has a sofa stuck in a doorway on move day knows how frustrating it is when there is no other way,” joked NASA in a recent article to explain some of the benefits of the new module.
According to the agency, the Bischofs airlock will help accelerate the deployment of small satellites and CubeSats from the space station. This will also help increase the number of research projects in near-earth orbit to give scientists a better understanding of the space environment while driving developments in earth imaging, medical research and bioproduction.
The Bishop’s Airlock also offers private companies, academic institutions, public bodies and even citizens the opportunity to conduct their own experiments and research in space.