Nanoracks' new Bishop Airlock will soon be installed on Node 3 and will provide some cool operational capabilities.

But, I don't get the name. This Verge article says

The airlock gets its name from the bishop in chess. The name is meant to reflect the various maneuvers Bishop can make when attached to the station’s robotic arm. It’s also a nod to Nanoracks’ strategy in the future. The company has even bolder dreams of creating its own free-floating space stations made from recycled fuel tanks of rockets. Such stations could also have similar airlocks, and Bishop could even be moved from the ISS to one of those facilities one day.

This explanation makes no sense to me. Why is the airlock called Bishop?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, my initial reaction to reading that snipped is that the airlock can be moved arbitrarily far along a straight line. Why they chose "Bishop" over "Rook" might be personal choice. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 7, 2020 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ ...diagonally moving parts/latches only would be my guess (as opposed to rotatory, like a standard door handle or a rotating bolt)? $\endgroup$
    – jvb
    Commented Dec 9, 2020 at 7:51

1 Answer 1


I emailed Nanoracks with this question and I got an email back from the CEO Jeffrey Manber, who kindly gave me permission to quote him.

Which is pretty impressive I must say.

So though I am not really satisfied with the answer, there is unlikely to be a better one.

It’s a chess piece for us. Got us into a bigger game of hardware outside the International Space Station.

Plus, when attached to the Canadian arm it kinda moves like a chess piece.

So not an acronym, more a tool for bigger and better programs for private space stations!


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