NASA, ISS Partners Eye New Universal Docking System

By Mark Carreau
Source: AWIN First
December 26, 2012

After a 2012 course correction, efforts by NASA’s International Space Station program to develop a new universal docking system standard for use aboard the 15-nation orbital science lab and future deep-space exploration vessels is on track for an operational debut by 2017.

Rivals in NASA’s efforts to develop a U.S. commercial crew transportation capability — Boeing’s CST-100, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser and the SpaceX Dragon — are in line to initiate and wring out the new universal NASA Docking System (NDS). NASA is targeting 2017 for the first ISS commercial crew missions and planning two U.S. segment docking ports equipped to accept the new, non-proprietary system.

Several years of station operations with the Boeing-inspired Soft Impact Mating Attenuation Concept (Simac), which has replaced NASA’s in-house International Low Impact Docking System (Ilids) design, are envisioned to help qualify the NDS international standard for the rigors of deep space.

“That is the driving force, a more simplified design that is lighter overall, less costly,” says Mike Suffredini, NASA’s ISS program manager. “We want to fly beyond low earth orbit one day, and one of the tenants of the space station is to wring out critical systems at station before we use them for deep space.”

The NDS goal is to accommodate dockings between spacecraft with masses ranging from 5 to 350 metric tons.

Read more: NASA, ISS Partners Eye Universal Docking System — Aviation Week and Space Technology.

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