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SpaceX Dragon Docks with ISS, Carrying Nanoracks Bishop Airlock  

By Rachel Jewett | December 7, 2020

A view of the ISS from the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft on Dec. 7. Photo: SpaceX

A SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday afternoon at about 1:40 p.m. ET. Dragon carried with it the first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock.

Bishop can deploy free-flying payloads such as cubesats and externally-mounted payloads, and host small payloads for research and in-space manufacture, among other capabilities. The first Bishop customers include NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), and Japanese space robotics startup, GITAI.

“This is a monumental moment for Nanoracks,” Nanoracks CEO Jeffrey Manber said in a release. “We came up with this idea five years ago. In those five quick years, we’ve gone from being known as the cubesat deployment company to an organization that is building the future of commercial Low-Earth Orbit [LEO] infrastructure.”

Six spaceships are now parked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragon which docked in November, the Cargo Dragon vehicle, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus-14 resupply ship which docked in October, and Russia’s Progress 75 and 76 resupply ships and Soyuz MS-17 crew ship.

The Dragon spacecraft was launched on a Falcon 9 rocket that took off Sunday, Dec. 6 at 11:17 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon will spend approximately one month docked to the space station. 

[Read more about Japanese space startup GITAI in Via Satellite’s November edition.]