Aerospace

SENER works for NASA on a docking system for the International Space Station

20/04/2017 (Poland)
SENER works for NASA on a docking system for the International Space Station

The SENER engineering and technology group, which this year is celebrating 50 years of experience in the space sector, is part of a European industrial consortium selected by the European Space Agency (ESA) and led by Belgian company QinetiQ Space for development of a Hard Docking System that forms part of the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM). The agreement between the parties was signed on April 6 in Colorado (USA).

The European mechanism for androgynous, low-impact docking enables both active and passive docking of large and small space vehicles. The IBDM’s design, technically superior to that of its competitors, will be compatible with the International Docking System Standard (IDSS), and therefore also compatible with the International Docking Adapters (IDAs) present in the US section of the International Space Station (ISS).

The ESA is developing this system in conjunction with NASA. The aim is to produce a modern docking method for the space vehicles that visit the ISS after the decommissioning of the space shuttle. Now, the ESA and QinetiQ – the company leading the European industrial consortium that includes SENER – have closed an agreement with the North American company Sierra Nevada Corporation for use of the IBDM as a system for docking the corporation’s Dream Chaser space vehicle to the ISS.

Through its aerospace divisions in Spain and Poland, SENER is in charge of the complete hard-docking subsystem, which represents a participation of over 30% in the project as a whole. Meanwhile, other members such as Swiss companies Ruag and Maxon are responsible for the linear actuators and motors. The main purpose of the hard-docking system is to create a rigid structural connection that allows for a pressurized passage between the two vehicles. This system is also used for the service connections and for nominal and emergency separation.

Dream Chaser

The Dream Chaser is a reusable, multi-mission, commercial cargo vehicle developed by the North American company Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems to take cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS), under a second commercial resupply service contract with NASA. SNC is developing two versions for the ISS: for cargo and crewed missions. This is also linked to the objective of providing service for future orbital infrastructures.

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IBDM Hard Capture System

The International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM) is the European androgynous low impact docking mechanism that is capable of docking and berthing large and small spacecraft. The IBDM is being designed to be compatible with the International Docking System Standard (IDSS) and hence compatible with the ISS International Docking Adapters (IDA) on the US side of the ISS. The design is considering the required flexibility to allow the integration of the IBDM into different vehicles....[+]

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