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European IBDM docking system for the ISS

Hard Docking System of the IBDM.

Hard Docking System of the IBDM.

SENER 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 ESA is developing this system together with NASA with the aim of producing a modern docking method for the space vehicles that visit the International Space Station (ISS) after the decommissioning of the space shuttle.

Recently, ESA and QinetiQ have closed the agreement by means of which funds have been allocated to the detailed design and manufacturing stages until the first flying model is built.

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 ISS.

SENER, through its aerospace divisions in Spain and Poland, is in charge of the IBDM’s complete hard-docking subsystem, which main purpose 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.

Sierra Nevada Corporation opts for the IBDM

ESA and QinetiQ have closed an agreement with the North American company Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) for the use of the IBDM as a system for docking the corporation’s Dream Chaser space vehicle to the ISS. The Dream Chaser is a reusable, multi-mission, commercial cargo vehicle developed by SNC Space Systems to take cargo to and from the 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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