While most everything on the ISS is reusable …there’s still some waste created that can’t be avoided like food wrappers, experiment packaging and clothing.
Though NASA’s odor panel (yes, that’s a real thing), does a great job of screening all items that may nauseate astronauts, potentially putting astronaut’s productivity or safety at risk, the smell of trash is seemingly unavoidable, and as we all know when trash piles up it never smells good.
Resupply missions only arrive once every two or three months, which means astronauts are stuck up there with all this waste accumulating inside a cramped, sealed compartment. On Earth, it would be like keeping all of your garbage piled up next to you in your living room for nearly three months until the sanitation truck comes.
This is where Nanoracks innovative trash bag and trash deployer system, or TDS, comes in. Nanoracks will launch the first trash bag to the ISS ever.
Utilizing their invention and TDS, astronauts aboard the ISS will fire the garbage bag out of the Bishop Airlock, which was launched and docked with the ISS in December 2020. The company designed a special bag to fit neatly with the airlock, so astronauts can chuck out their foul clothing, food wrappers and experiment packaging much more frequently. Able to hold about 600 pounds, it will eject into space, far enough so it doesn’t fly back around the Earth and hit the station, then burn up in the atmosphere after about a year in orbit.
The Bishop Airlock is the fourth to be integrated with the ISS, and the first commercial airlock ever. It is owned and operated by Nanoracks, which means they can also use it to deploy payloads like satellites and experiments. Two of the other airlocks — one Russian and one American — are meant for crew members to enter and exit the station for spacewalks, and the third, a Japanese one, can deploy payloads just like Bishop, but it is about five times smaller. As a result, Bishop can send out huge trash bags along with larger satellites and larger quantities of satellites at once.
Of course, this is great for the astronauts, but tidying up the space station is even more important now that private citizens are visiting space in larger numbers like with Starlab when it launches in 2027.
We’ll have more from our Nanoracks exclusive in upcoming reports. In the meantime, download our App on your connected TV or mobile device to access our 24/7 feed. It’s free!