Questions tagged [docking]

Questions about the process and equipment used to join two spacecraft together.

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1answer
200 views

Why do two Starships dock in such a manner their heat shields face opposite sides?

In the Starship Launch Animation, first, a crewed Starship launches and reaches orbit. Then the fuel tanker Starship rendezvous with the former and docks like this for orbital re-fuelling. It can be ...
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How are differences in electrical potential between docking (or berthing) vehicles mitigated?

Different vehicles can have several hundred or even several thousand volts difference between their baseline electrical potentials. How do they ensure that upon first contact, there isn't a massive ...
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How can Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1, 2) “dock with 80% of satellites currently in a geostationary orbit”?

Parabolic Arc's Mission Extension Vehicle Headed for Space discusses Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Vehicle, which is only briefly described in Wikipedia. The article states: A satellite ...
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How does the economy of a direct launch (to the Moon) compare with two launches docking in orbit?

How much more efficient would it be to use a launcher big enough to go directly to the surface of the Moon like Apollo did, compared with using two launches with a lesser rocket, say one with the ...
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What are these giant NASA boxes?

In this answer I saw Figure 35 of the encyclopaedic ISS Interface Mechanisms and their Heritage and from the link I saw Figure 37, and I've included both below (click for larger size). What are these ...
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Agena docking and RCS Brakes in First Man

In the movie, First Man, Neil Armstrong and his colleague David Scott, as part of the Gemini 8 program, attempt to dock with the Agena but it turns out to be disastrous as they go into a continuous ...
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Just how record-setting was the launch-to-docking time of the April-4-2019 Progress resupply mission?

Digital Trend's article 3-plus-hour supply trip from Earth to International Space Station breaks record mentions that this was even faster than the typical "fast-track" Russian launch-to-docking time ...
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Difference between “undock” and “depart” (SpaceX Dragon Mission 1); when did it leave?

Reading the Astronomy SE question Did I see the dragon capsule on Friday night? I thought I'd check some times. Wikipedia's SpX-DM1 says: ...
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What are these green text/line displays shown during the livestream of Crew Dragon's approach to dock with the ISS?

During the livestream of Crew Dragon's approach to docking, at 6:24 a laptop display is shown with lots of green text and a camera view of the International Space Station. What's going on?
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What is Crew Dragon approaching in this picture?

Crew Dragon (without a crew) just docked to the ISS for the first time last night. Most of the news reports on it are using the below photo. I thought it was supposed to dock to the Harmony module's ...
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Docking of CSM with LM

After separation from the SLA (by about 50-100 feet), the CSM "turned around" and docked with the LM to pull it out. This turning around was done by a 180 degree change in orientation. This could have ...
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Docking of Command and Service module with Lunar module

Is there any video available which is shot inside CSM during the process of docking with LM to pull it out of adapter?
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Docking of LM with CSM

I know that the CSM turned around after separation from SLA, and by using its probe, it captured the drogue of LM. The CM then issued a command to latch and pull back the locking ring of LM, so that ...
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127 views

How long could a spacecraft be attached to ISS?

I've recently noticed how the "Design life, when docked to Space Station" parameter, varies across some of the modern spacecraft that are capable of docking to ISS these days: H-II Transfer Vehicle - ...
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Transfer of astronauts from CSM to LM

Did the astronauts "remove" the docking probe, the drogue of the LM, and related mechanisms from the CSM to enter the LM of Apollo 11?
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With six spacecraft currently docked at the ISS, how could Santa (or anyone else) deliver presents?

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 ...
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107 views

How could a sextant be used to help in a docking procedure, hypothetically?

If a spacecraft's standard radar and optical metrology were lost, could a sextant be used to determine range and relative position of another spacecraft in order to execute a docking maneuver? Let's ...
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688 views

Who performs the docking procedure?

In the Apollo moon missions when the LEM returned to the CSM, which astronaut performed the docking procedure? Did the command module pilot just hold a fixed position while the astronaut flying the ...
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Practicalities of docking with a large spinning space station

We've all seen countless examples of spinning habitats in fiction. However there are certain practicalities with these space stations that I can't get my head around, namely around how you'd dock with ...
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1answer
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How the new BFS is supposed to dock for refuelling?

The previous design iteration of BFS called for flat tails to connect the tanker and the passenger version and facilitate propellant transfer through acceleration. But the new version is depicted to ...
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572 views

How does automated docking work and why isn't it used more often?

It seems on every flight to the ISS for either people or just cargo, there is always a big deal over manual docking, lots of back and forth over comms, pinpointing the right spot, slowing down in a ...
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1answer
180 views

Could the Tiangong-2 dock to the ISS?

As far I know, in the time of the MIR + Space Shuttle dockings it was a problem to solve. Are their docking systems compatible?
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Harpooning satellites? Is this really the best way to get them under control?

above: GIF from Polular Mechanics which has been kindly modified here to be under 2 MiB. Harpoons are effective when the target is out of reach, or moving too quickly to catch. Neither is generally ...
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Why is the International Docking Adapter limited to mother ships and shuttles in a set mass range?

The IDSS ( International Docking System Standard) is a docking standard that every Docking adapter should follow. According to its latest revision: Vehicles using this interface may include light ...
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What's the maximum residual speed for docking?

What is the maximum final relative speed of two spacecraft docking? Say, a supply ship docking with the ISS. I imagine the incoming ship would try to break as much as possible, but there must be some ...
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230 views

Is docking satelites an option?

If we dock satellites together we can then have big satellite stations on different orbits that will be serviceable. Is this possible, and what are some implications of doing so? For example, can ...
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129 views

Where did Soyuz and Progress dock with Mir?

I'm piecing together a chronological timeline of Mir station including manned and unmanned visits to the ship, time of docking and undocking, and location of docking. My question is around the ...
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Soyuz has a Space Periscope?

The image Photo ID: ISS049-E-003166 can be found in Flikr and Wikimedia Commons as well as in Spaceflight Now. There is a long (perhaps 1 meter?) green structure that is sticking out from the side of ...
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Mass of docking system for On-orbit servicing vehicles?

Could anyone provide an estimate for the mass of on-orbit servicing vehicles such as SMART-OLEV etc The mass of the whole vehicle is estimated to be in the range of 1000-1200 kg but what would be the ...
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Do the Soyuz spacecraft bringing astronauts and supplies to the ISS use Ukraine-built Kurs systems?

A comment below this great answer about the Kurs navigation and docking system linked to the following page on the Ukrainian company Elimz website: http://www.elmiz.com/en/product/orbitalnyj-servis-...
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How does one refer to the “port port” on the ISS?

Saying "port port" is clumsy. Should I refer to it as the port berthing mechanism? Is there specific terminology for what I'm referring to or are there a few options? Also, I'm specifically ...
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How did the Lunar Module dock with the rest of Apollo 11 and what is the “CSM”?

I'd like to ask if anyone can, in layman's terms, describe the procedure by which the Apollo 11 astronauts were able to get back to their ship? I ask because the most accessible literature on this ...
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Has on-orbit refueling ever been demonstrated with cryogenic fuels?

Looking at the question Has in-space refueling been done?, it looks like all fuel transfer operations in orbit have been done with room-temperature hypergolics. Has on-orbit transfer of cryogenic ...
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Has a spacecraft ever docked with the same space station twice in one mission?

Has a spacecraft ever docked with the same space station twice in one mission? This is the "corollary" to the question How many times has a spacecraft docked with two or more different space stations ...
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How many times has a spacecraft docked with two or more different space stations during a single mission?

According to this answer, Columbia is the only Space Shuttle not to have docked with more than one space station. For the other shuttles, I think at least most of the time they only docked with one ...
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How many antennas does Kurz use in toto, and what are each of their functions?

I learned about the Kurz docking system in this answer, then found out what they looked like in this and in this answer. Those images show several tiny dish antenna structures sticking out from ...
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What is the “ISS's Keep Out Sphere” and what is its radius?

The comment: In a similar vein, it would be interesting to know if going around the moon rather than to the ISS removes any legal hurdles. Do we have any questions covering the legal ramifications (...
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How to calculate drop due to ship docking at orbital tether

I am exploring some of the properties of a vertical orbiting tether (or non-rotating skyhook). This particular tether has a quite large mass at the location with a circular orbital velocity, with the ...
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Why was Space Shuttle Atlantis selected for Mir docking so frequently?

In this answer @RussellBorogove discussed the frequency of dockings of each space shuttle with the Mir space station. I've summarized those frequencies, total number of missions flown, and year of ...
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Did all of the Space Shuttles dock with multiple space stations or crewed spacecraft?

For example, the Space Shuttle Endeavour did dock with both MIR (bringing apple seeds) and the ISS. Did all of the shuttles dock with more than one space station and/or crewed spacecraft? above: ...
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286 views

Best orientation for docking

Is there a preferred orientation to approach (or leave) a space station for docking? Is it from below? above? by change in the inclination (port or starboard) from ahead or aft? I know recently the ...
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1answer
189 views

Can an ISS berthed vehicle remotely unberth?

The ISS has three (four?) types of docking ports. The Russian side has one standard with two types (active/passive?) and the US side has either a PMA (soon to be updated with the IDA to the NDS ...
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656 views

Did the “Zvezda” module really dock to the ISS 2 weeks after launch?

Today I've read in the Facebook group of Roscosmos (original text in Russian) that 16 years ago on this day the Zvezda module was launched into space. According to the article 2 weeks later it docked ...
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What is the convention for “launch date” when dockings and transfers are considered?

I was confused by the displayed launch date for SpinSat which was carried into space aboard CRS-4 in September 2014, since it is listed as November 20, 1998. It was explained that the date refers to ...
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Are any androgynous docking systems currently in use?

Are there any androgynous docking/berthing systems currently in use for docking? I've browsed the list and it seems all the androgynous systems fall into three groups: obsolete / used on crafts no ...
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Sparking/arcing distance between two spacecraft?

What is the distance two spacecraft will spark/arc at in SSO? Eg if one has just launched and one has been there a long time (eg a 10-20kV worst case voltage difference). I think Paschen's Law is the ...
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414 views

Could a Mars return mission go directly back to the ISS?

I was reading a FAQ on Mars missions when I came across the following snippet: NASA does have the rocket technology to get humans to Mars. However, current technology is not advanced enough to get ...
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294 views

Minimum spacecraft docking time

What's the absolute minimum time in which spacecraft docking can be achieved? EDIT: This question isn't so much about the time to match orbits as it is about the time it takes to maneuver into the ...
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291 views

Can the US Manned vehicles (CST-100, Dragon V2) dock to a Russian vehicle?

In some ways, this is a question in general about docking port compatability. The Russians have two types of ports, and the Americans are standardizing on the NDS (NASA Docking System, sometimes ...
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345 views

ISS dock duration limit for SNC Dream Chaser

In a short video I just watched, it's stated that the SNC Dream Chaser can remain docked with the ISS for "up to 210 days". What determines this limit?