Case study

NREP AstroTube™ Max Boom Industrial Research

The NREP (NanoRacks External Platform) allows customers to undertake various experiments from the International Space Station.

Oxford Space Systems (OSS) is a venture capital backed, early-stage technology business that’s developing a new generation of deployable spacecraft structures for the global space industry. The diverse and experienced OSS team is rapidly establishing itself as an innovative and agile supplier to the global space sector.

The project led by Oxford Space Systems, in collaboration with NanoRacks (USA), explored significant and innovative improvements to the existing OSS AstroTube™ Max (A-Max) boom system, such that a proven, commercially focused technology from NanoRacks, the NREP, can be further enhanced. Watch the A-Max in action.

The NREP (NanoRacks External Platform) allows customers to undertake various experiments from the International Space Station (ISS), and is currently externally attached in a fixed and static location to the space station. NanoRacks believe the attractiveness of their offering will be greatly enhanced if the NREP’s payloads could be deployed and retracted from the ISS by up to 10 metres. It is proposed variant of the A-Max boom be utilized to provide this capability. With this enhanced market offering, NanoRacks estimates a 25% increase in NREP’s utilization.

NanoRacks has provided OSS with a unique commercial opportunity: the company has the contractual ability to provide up to ten external platforms to the ISS, thus the commercial opportunity to OSS, as an early stage entrant to the global space market, is highly attractive. The life of a NREP is around 5 years, with a programme of continued replacement.

The NSTP3 Pathfinder grant has enabled OSS and Nanoracks to undertake this essential feasibility study, which otherwise would not have been possible. This project has concluded that the proposed NREP Boom design is technically feasible and well aligned with the needs of prospective NREP customers. The study has also helped identify areas of further collaborative development for this technology.

OSS and NanoRacks have established and excellent working relationship, with this project serving as a foundation for further collaborative development of A-Max for NREP.

Beyond engagement with NanoRacks, OSS is currently in discussion with other potential US customers for variants of its boom technology. Being able to state that OSS has successfully collaborated with NanoRacks, a ‘star’ of the US New Space industry, has added credibility to OSS as it seeks to establish its reputation and credentials in the highly competitive US market.

Published 11 January 2018