NASA works to have its personal airlock accessible for use during missions. The airlock that is currently in the International Space Station counts as the first commercial airlock to be sent into space. The airlock braced a journey into orbit to be added as an exterior part of the ISS on Dec. 21. The air locking system is a disk-shaped compartment capable of allowing the passage of massive payloads and other items from outside space into the space station.

Houston-based aviation company Nanotracks designed the airtight vacuum chamber, a company known to be one of the first financial entities to develop a fully functioning airlock in space. The addition of this large space-based compartment comes as a welcome addition of its kind. The airlock will enable more access for research containers used in science experiments or small-scale satellite deployers.

The 2000-pound piece of hardware was named Bishop, a name inspired by the same name’s pointy chess piece, whose movement is limited to diagonal movement. The airlock’s design is under Nanotracks’ blueprint to have the chamber agile when used with the station’s robotic arm.  There are reports that the organization plans to extend its production portfolio past one airlock, and rumors have it that it aims to launch its space station at some point.

Bishops functionality started on Dec. 6, when it was launched aboard the NASA resupply CRS-21 mission from the space agency’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.  The airlock hitched a ride within the SpaceX Dragon cargo flight in an unpressurized trunk.  During transit, Bishop had to be fitted on the shuttle’s exterior part due to limited cargo capacity on the launch vehicle.

When engaged, Bishop will enable astronauts will hold objects in the aircraft by opening a hatch in the aircraft’s station. Mission operators plan to have the chamber controlled remotely. The controllers at the NASA school of science and technology in Houston will be tasked with utilizing the ISS’ on station robotic arm to detach the airlock, release the required package, and reconnect the Air compressor to the same outlet when needed.

However, demand for vacuum chambers has necessitated the rise of more vacuum chambers to be made. There are several additional aircraft ground-based airlocks that astronauts use for entry and exit from the space station. There is confirmation over an additional airlock aboard the ISS used for small payloads. Such an airlock is the only way in which Nanotracks can launch isostere satellites into orbit.

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