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NanoRacks & Bezos’s Blue Origin Team to Boost Suborbital Research

Xconomy Texas — 

Nanoracks, a private Houston-area space company, has formed a new partnership with Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin to help scientific researchers work in suborbital space.

NanoRacks CEO Jeffrey Manber passed the information along to me in an e-mail this morning. According to a post on the company’s website, Manber said “for many projects, a productive first step towards space research would be to test hardware and methodology via a suborbital platform.”

NanoRacks, which was founded seven years ago, sells to researchers transportation and access to lab space at the International Space Station. The project with Blue Origin, the latest company by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, entails NanoRacks lifting experiments to the edge of space, some 62 miles above the Earth’s surface. Blue Origin is based in Kent, WA, and had a successful launch of its New Shepard rocket last April.

We last spoke to Manber two years ago when NanoRacks had announced that its experiments from a self-funded mission to grow commercial-scale proteins in space were successful. For Manber that proved a hunch that using terrestrial research hardware, as opposed to more customized hardware created specifically for projects in space, would result in useful science—and, therefore, new markets for the company.

The news is the latest example of the growth of Texas’ private space industry. Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration OK’d the former Ellington Air Force Base as the nation’s 10th Spaceport. One of its first tenants, will be Houston-based Intuitive Machines.