Commercial space companies in Houston looking forward to SpaceX launch

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Wednesday's historic launch is a monumental moment for SpaceX, but it also has a lot on the line for private aerospace companies in Houston.

Nanoracks, located near the Johnson Space Center, is preparing to send its module into space.

"This airlock is going to be the first commercialized, private module for the space station," Nanoracks project manager, Brock Howe explained.

Nanoracks is one of the growing aerospace companies in Houston.

In addition to making modules, the company also has its own mission control where it can work with astronauts at the International Space Station.

Nanoracks is known for creating devices to shoot experiments into orbit from the ISS.

"Remember when you were a kid, the Pez candy that shoots things out," Nanoracks CEO, Jeffrey Manber explained. "It's kind of a big Pez candy dispenser."

The latest creation is called the Bishop Air Lock. It's five times larger than the current one on I.S.S.

Once installed, bigger experiments can launch into space.

With space exploration moving commercial, Nanoracks has increased its workforce to 60 employees in Houston.

While other industries have had to lay off employees during the pandemic, the company said it's been able to continue to hire.

"We're hurt because of the crisis we're in, but we're not terribly hurt," Manber said. "We understand there is a commitment by the United States to build up our capacity in space."

The commitment will allow Nanoracks to place its module in a SpaceX rocket this fall, and continue to show how private companies in Houston are at the forefront of the space race.

"It's very satisfying, but it's even more satisfying when we see this installed onto the space station," Howe said.

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