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In a Spin! Commercial Centrifuge Readied for Space Station

Credit: NanoRacks/NASA

A new tool for gravitational research in Earth orbit also marks a new era of commercial utilization of the U.S. National Laboratory – a module that’s part of the International Space Station (ISS).

Astrium Space Transportation and NanoRacks LLC have teamed up to offer a cost‐effective, commercial centrifuge facility for the ISS. The hardware is touted as a truly commercial and collaborative project.

The small centrifuge will allow researchers to perform research under various gravity levels, including Mars and Moon conditions or as 1‐G control to contrast results with microgravity projects conducted on the ISS.

The Astrium centrifuge is to be permanently housed on a third NanoRacks (NR-3) platform, one dedicated to basic and industrial research, with higher power than two other platforms now on space station, said Jeffrey Manber, Managing Director of NanoRacks.

Launch later this year

The NR‐3 platform that carries the Astrium centrifuge is manifested on a Russian Progress cargo ship slated to be launched to the space station in the summer of this year.

The hardware, and its home on the NR-3 platform, has been solely funded by the two companies in a demonstration of support for researchers’ needs for sophisticated research tools in low‐earth orbit.

According to a NanoRacks statement, the platform and the centrifuge were produced in a short period of time at low cost. That being the case, the firm adds, signals that the private sector has a critical role to play in supporting space-based infrastructure in low‐Earth orbit and beyond.

Both companies expect more announcements in the near future on further joint projects.

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By Leonard David


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