Press releases

Bishop Airlock to the ISS!

Press releases

Bishop Airlock to the ISS!

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    Thales Alenia Space produced the shell of the first-ever commercial airlock ready to be launched to the International Space Station

    Turin, 4 December 2020Bishop, the Nanoracks commercial airlock module, is ready to be launched to the International Space Station on SpaceX CRS-21 .


    Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %) produced and tested the critical pressure shell for Bishop as well as the Multi-Layer Isolation (MLI) and various secondary structures, including the Micrometeoroid Orbital Debris (MMOD) shield, the Power and Video Grapple Fixture support structure and other structural components.

    Bishop is a four-cubic meter bell-shaped airlock; it will be attached to the Tranquility Node, also developed by Thales Alenia Space as a permanent commercial module at the ISS. Bishop will provide five times the current payload volume available through the existing airlock on the ISS. In the long-term, Bishop could be removed from the Space Station and be re-purposed for a Nanoracks free-flying Outpost.

    “We’re are very proud to be part of this key Nanoracks commercial Program – said Walter Cugno, Vice President Exploration and Science Domain at Thales Alenia Space – Bishop is the first-ever commercial airlock that will operate on the International Space Station and thanks to the Nanoracks we gained the opportunity to bring to this program over 40 years of experience in the design and production of advanced technology solutions connected with the International Space Station. Thales Alenia Space will continue to provide these capabilities for future business opportunities revolutionizing the human presence in low-Earth orbit.”
    Thales Alenia Space

    Nanoracks LLC, an XO Markets company, is the world’s leading provider of commercial space services. Nanoracks believes commercial space utilization will enable innovation through in-space manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, fiber optics – and more, allow for revolutionary Earth observation, and make space a key player in finding the solution to Earth’s problems.

    Today, the company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research, and more – in over 30 nations worldwide. Nanoracks’ future goals are focused on the re-purposing of the upper stages of launch vehicles in-space and converting these structures into commercial habitats, both humanly and robotically tended, throughout the solar system.

    XO Markets, the world’s first commercial space holding company, includes Nanoracks LLC, Nanoracks UAE, and wholly owned subsidiaries DreamUp and Nanoracks Space Outpost Europe (Nanoracks-Europe).

    Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.


    Sandrine Bielecki
    Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

    Tarik Lahlou
    Tel: +33(0)6 87 95 89 56

    Cinzia Marcanio
    Tel: +39 (0)6 415 126 85

    Marija Kovac
    Tel: +39 (0)6 415 129 91