This ISS tweet says:

Three days after launching from Florida the @SpaceX #Dragon cargo craft was installed to the Harmony module at 10:36 a.m. EST. There are now six spaceships parked at the station. https://go.nasa.gov/2B2vMoJ

and links to the NSAS blog post Dragon Attached to Station, Returns to Earth in January

How can Santa deliver presents with this configuration?

Or if (somehow) a spacecraft did visit the ISS now, how would someone be able to transfer into the ISS? What would the major steps be?

If there are two options, highlight the major steps for each.

Hopefully it won't be like Alec Baldwin transferring to the USS Dallas.

enter image description here


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    $\begingroup$ Through the chimney, of course. Or the JAXA JEM airlock if you want to get technical. $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 10:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As for more mundane visitors, IDA-2 connected through PMA-2 to Harmony looks to be free. $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Commented Dec 9, 2018 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ Not a problem, 'cause Santa only delivers presents to kids. Adults have to buy them for each other. Besides, I don't think anyone makes pressure suits for reindeer :-( $\endgroup$
    – jamesqf
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 4:02
  • $\begingroup$ Santa's sleigh doesn't have a docking collar, what need does he have for a docking port? He comes in via EVA--thus through an airlock. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ Six spaceships is way too crowded. That's why nobody goes there anymore. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 11, 2018 at 23:27

2 Answers 2


Considering how all the usual docking/berthing ports at the station are occupied, Santa would likely arrive in a Dragon Crew/V2 or a Boeing CST-100 vehicle. These are the next US vehicles that will be manned and due for first launches in 2019.

The Russian side uses their own style of docking port that Progress, Soyuz, and the ESA ATV vehicles dock. These can dock automated or manual and there are 4 of them on the Russian end of the station.

And in between those two sections, lets have a cool pic of 4 of the 6!

The US side of the station has 2 Berthing ports, currently occupied by the Dragon (Cargo) and Cygnus (Cargo) vehicles. These cannot automatically dock and require on station help. They use the CanadArm2 to capture the vehicle and pull it in to the port. The opening and closing of the internal door is manual from the inside of the station. (So you could not leave an unmanned station this way, nor arrive.)

The two new vehicles will use the docking ports on PMA-2 (at the end of Node 3) or PMA-3 (facing upwards on Node 2). (PMA-2 is how the Shuttle would dock, and they added an IDA (International Docking Adapter) to it to allow Dragon/CST-100 to dock).

Wikipedia's pic of PMA's These ports allow automated docking and undocking.

So 2 docking ports are still open. Cargo ships are unmanned, so he would have to use a port that allows manned vehicles.

A nice question showing the available ports is Will The ISS Need more ports?

From that question, here is a nice picture showing one configuration from the past where most of the ports were occupied, like the picture in the question.

Older Image of ISS Ports

That picture is from 2011. As of end of 2018, the up facing port the HTV is connected to will be PMA-3 for manned docking of CST-100/Dragon vehicles, and the Shuttle is docked to the PMA-2 port.

The lower port, just below the HTV is where the Cargo Dragon is currently berthed, and to the left of it, there is the old location for the PMM module that has since been moved to Node 3 (with the BEAM opposite it) make space for where the Cygnus is currently berthed.

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    $\begingroup$ btw your answer is so good that all of the down votes on the question were subsequently reversed! I stand in the presence of (if not on the shoulders of) giants. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Dec 10, 2018 at 4:18

Look at Santa's sleigh. See anything resembling a docking collar? No?--then why do you think he has any use for a docking port??

It's obvious he gets there via EVA. The ISS airlocks aren't blocked. Given his normal speed of travel it's pretty obvious he's not simply breathing the ambient air as he flies anyway, it's perfectly reasonable to figure that whatever protects him in flight works outside the atmosphere as well.


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