|Image courtesy of ATK / Liberty Space|
“NanoRacks is a world leader in understanding the emerging commercial market for low Earth orbit utilization,” said Kent Rominger, ATK’s Liberty Program Manager. “Jeff Manber and his NanoRacks team will bring the tremendous capability of the Liberty Transportation Service to this community worldwide. The prospects are very exciting.”
The Liberty Transportation Service offers researchers world-wide the opportunity to fly into low Earth orbit with their research—either to the International Space Station, to other on-orbit space craft for human-tended operations or to use a Liberty mission on-orbit as their own unique research platform. The Liberty team will work with NanoRacks to develop Liberty missions that allow use of low Earth orbit by non-NASA individuals, such as astronauts from other countries, as well as the delivery of innovative solutions for NASA commercial crew and cargo missions.
This teaming agreement allows NanoRacks to market to explorers from around the globe a Liberty mission consisting of transportation into low Earth orbit, on-orbit operations and a safe return to Earth for up to seven people and their research and/or equipment.
The Liberty team selected NanoRacks because of its proven performance and unique history of innovatively managing a number of International Space Station payloads and commercial astronaut programs. NanoRacks is already working with Astrium North America to provide quality hardware and services for the U.S. National Laboratory on board the International Space Station.
NanoRacks has developed and deployed two research platforms onboard the International Space Station’s U.S. National Laboratory, which can house plug-and-play payloads using CubeSat. NanoRacks has a signed customer pipeline of over 50 payloads including domestic and international educational institutions, research organizations and government organizations.
“The possibilities with Liberty are exponential,” said Jeff Manber, CEO of NanoRacks. “For the first time we are offering people across the globe an opportunity to use Liberty to create their own missions of exploration and discovery. This will greatly expand the use of the ISS for research and also create novel missions using Liberty in low Earth orbit.”
“We look forward to expanding our work with NanoRacks as it brings Liberty to new customers worldwide for commercial missions to ISS and other LEO missions,” said John Schumacher, President of Astrium in North America. “This builds on research and human space flight-related operations we have done in Florida and Texas with the NASA team for over a decade.”
Liberty is a complete commercial crew system that includes a human-rated composite spacecraft, advanced abort system, a reliable, affordable and capable commercial launch vehicle to low Earth orbit and ground and mission operations, which were all designed from inception to meet NASA’s human-rating requirements. Unmanned test flights are planned for 2014 and 2015, followed by the first human flights in 2015 with a Liberty flight crew flying to the International Space Station.
ATK is the team lead, with Astrium and Lockheed Martin serving as major subcomponent providers. Additional subcontractors for Liberty include Safran, Moog Inc., Honeywell, Astrotech Space Operations (ASTC), Aerojet, Reynolds, Smith and Hills, Dynamic Concepts, Inc, Hamilton Sundstrand, L-3 Cincinnati Electronics and Teledyne Brown.
The Liberty system team is located across 10 states including Alabama, California, Florida, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah and Virginia. The commercial program is expected to sustain thousands of jobs as well as bring approximately 600 new jobs across the country.