Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Docking Adapter Sets Stage for Commercial Crew Crew
by Steven Siceloff for KSC News
Kennedy Space Center FL (SPX) Jul 07, 2015

The IDA-1 inside the Space Station Processing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Image courtesy NASA/Cory Huston. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The first International Docking Adapter headed to the International Space Station on Sunday will be a physical connecting point for spacecraft, but for NASA it will be a metaphorical gateway to a future in which crews go to the station aboard America's first new, human-rated spacecraft since the space shuttle.

The adapter, designated IDA-1, was built by Boeing and has been loaded into the trunk of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that will rocket into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket on the company's seventh commercial resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory. CRS-7, as the mission is called, is slated to launch Sunday at 10:21 a.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 40.

Astronauts will work inside and outside the station to install the docking adapter on the pressurized mating adapter at the forward end of the Harmony module. Weighing just over 1,000 pounds, the first IDA will be moved out of the Dragon using the space station's robotic arm and will be temporarily stowed on the external station structure.

Spacewalking astronauts and robotics controllers will later attach IDA-1 to the Pressurized Mating Adapter at the forward end of the Harmony module and connect cables and the other relevant systems to make the adapter a permanent part of the station.

The second IDA is scheduled to be delivered to the station on the ninth SpaceX commercial resupply mission and will be installed on another Pressurized Mating Adapter that will be located on the space-facing side of the Harmony module.

Boeing's CST-100 and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will dock at the adapters in the near future when bringing astronauts to the station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The adapters were built to the International Docking System Standard, which features built-in systems for automated docking and uniform measurements. That means any destination or any spacecraft can use the adapters in the future - from the new commercial spacecraft to other international spacecraft yet to be designed.

The adapters also include fittings so power and data can be transferred from the station to the visiting spacecraft. The work by private companies to take on low-Earth orbit missions is expected to free up NASA's resources for future missions into deep space with astronauts in the Orion crew capsule launching on the Space Launch System Rocket to prepare for future journeys to Mars.

"It's really opening up a new era for commercial crew support to ISS," said Mark Ortiz, Boeing's project manager for the two IDAs. "The IDA enables flexibility for multiple commercial and international vehicles to dock to ISS and opens the door to a new international standard."

It took international and national teams working together to construct the IDAs. Parts from companies in 25 states were assembled to make the adapters, which measure about 42-inches tall and about 63-inches wide each. The Russian company RSC-Energia made the primary structures of the IDAs. Docking targets, laser retro-reflectors and related systems are arrayed around the outer perimeters to give them an outer diameter of about 94 inches. NASA's Johnson Space Center also collaborated on the design, Ortiz said.

The systems and targets for IDA-1 were put through about a month of tests at Kennedy's Space Center's Station Processing Facility before being loaded for launch. The targets are much more sophisticated than previous docking systems and include lasers and sensors that allow the station and spacecraft to talk to each other digitally to share distance cues and enable automatic alignment and connection. Think of it as a car that can park itself.

"We set the hardware up and had the folks from Boeing and SpaceX come over and do some alignment checks and testing so they would know their systems would work," said Steve Bigos, project manager for orbital replacement unit processing at Kennedy. "There was a lot of new technology, so it was very interesting."

The team then packaged it for launch and put it in the configuration it will need for the ride into space and placement on the station.

"I might've expected more issues with everybody coming in to look at it, but the teams worked together really well," said Curt Horanic, NASA's operations lead for the work. "The commercial world and the NASA world all worked well together, and in the world of changing cultures it all seems to be molding together."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Commercial Crew at NASA
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Cosmonaut Padalka Sets World Record in Combined Flight Duration
Moscow (Sputnik) Jun 28, 2015
Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka currently working on the International Space Station (ISS) has set a world record in combined flight duration, a space industry source told RIA Novosti early on Monday. Padalka completed his first space flight in 1999 as commander of the Soyuz TM-28 mission to the Mir space station. This year, Padalka departed for the ISS on March 27 on board the Soyuz TMA ... read more

Russia to Land Space Vessel on Moon's Polar Region in 2019

Moon engulfed in permanent, lopsided dust cloud

Crashing comets may explain mysterious lunar swirls

Google Lunar X-Prize meets Yoda

Opportunity Gets Back to Work

NASA wants to send microbes to Mars to prepare for human habitation

Could This Become the First Mars Airplane

Opportunity Rover's 7th Mars Winter to Include New Study Area

Docking Adapter Sets Stage for Commercial Crew Crew

NASA selects leading-edge concepts for continued study

Targeted LEDs could provide efficient lighting for plants grown in space

NASA Gears Up to Test Orion's Powerhouse

Chinese earth station is for exclusively scientific and civilian purposes

Cooperation in satellite technology put Belgium, China to forefront

China set to bolster space, polar security

China's super "eye" to speed up space rendezvous

'Jedi' astronauts say 'no fear' as they gear for ISS trip

Relief as Russian cargo ship docks at space station

Loss of SpaceX Cargo Resupply Mission No Threat to ISS Crew Security

Russia launches Soyuz Progress with supplies for ISS

India to launch its heaviest commercial mission to date

Final payload integration begins for next Ariane 5 launch

Licensed commercial spaceport to be built in Houston, Texas

More Fidelity for SpaceX In-Flight Abort Reduces Risk

Bricks to build an Earth found in every planetary system

Observing the birth of a planet

Precise ages of largest number of stars hosting planets ever measured

Can Planets Be Rejuvenated Around Dead Stars?

Ball delivers optical reference units for GRACE follow-on mission

'Pac-Man' space probe to gobble-up space debris

Silica spiky screws could boost industrial coatings, additive manufacturing

New conductive ink for electronic apparel

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.