Docking System Enables Safe Rendezvous in Space
- Magazine Article
Even though it has been done many times before, the docking maneuver between two objects in space is always a delicate and potentially dangerous procedure. The speed is extremely high (about 28,000 km/h in the case of the International Space Station, or ISS), and corrections are difficult. When the two objects are about to meet, maneuvering thrusters can no longer be used since their exhaust plumes can cause damage. To prevent harm, cargo transporters are caught by a robotic arm installed in the ISS and berthed manually. Manned spacecraft, on the other hand, dock directly in a computer-controlled process.