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Space station to get first commercial portal

NanoRacks Airlock Module
In this artist’s conception, NanoRacks’ airlock module is the knobby-looking hardware attached to a port on the International Space Station’s Tranquility module. (NanoRacks Illustration)

NASA has accepted a plan from a private venture called NanoRacks to provide the International Space Station with an air lock that would serve as its first commercial portal.

The plan could serve as the model for the eventual development of entire space stations backed by the private sector.

The NanoRacks Airlock Module is to be developed in cooperation with Boeing and could be fitted to the station’s Tranquility module by as early as 2019, NASA and Houston-based NanoRacks said today in a pair of announcements.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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