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How is the cargo organized inside a payload ship like spacex's dragon? Is there different size containers for different items inside the ship? How are they secured inside? Finally, how is it unloaded into the ISS?

(not asking about the dragon specifically)

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For the MPLMs that were carried up by Shuttle, everything was packed in soft-ish fabric bags strapped to the walls. A lot of custom cut foam was used to secure the items. So when you opened one of the bags, you'd see foam, and you had to pull all that out to get the items. Typically this foam would go back down as garbage.

The bags can be custom sizes for large items.

An aisle is left down the middle for access, as shown in this picture of Sandy Magnus inside the MPLM that STS-135 took up. (this MPLM is probably partially unpacked)

enter image description here

Since the Cygnus is basically an MPLM, I imagine it is the same. No personal knowledge of Dragon, but it sure looks similar:

enter image description here

Finally, how is it unloaded - by hand. On shuttle flights one of the mission specialists was designated the Loadmaster who kept up with and directed the unloading, unpacking, and reloading.

There is a funny (if somewhat sexist) shot in one of the NASA IMAX movies (I think Space Station 3D) where the male crewmembers "unload" Marsha Ivins as though she were cargo and pass her up through the hatches just like the other items of cargo.

Loading the cargo into the MPLM was no picnic either. In this picture I took in the SSPF, you can see the MPLM is in a cradle that lets it rotate on its long axis. The white cabinet thing that blocks our view into the MPLM controls a movable access arm that allows workers to get in and reach any part of the MPLM to attach the cargo.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ Wow great answer Thank you! Was there ever an effort to develop robotized loading/unloading from within? Wouldn't it add cargo space removing the need for human to move inside and minimize unloading time? $\endgroup$
    – AntoineLev
    Oct 7 '16 at 1:45
  • $\begingroup$ That's a good thought. But you'd have this robot in the space station doing nothing a lot of the time. Maybe the Robonaut that they have up there could help! $\endgroup$ Oct 7 '16 at 1:51
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In the ESA ATV, racks were installed, like this:

Empty ATV

The bags were secured to the racks.

ATV loaded

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