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Who may be in the lead conserning docking mechanisms?

Posted by: Ekkehard Augustin - Mon May 02, 2005 10:49 am
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Who may be in the lead conserning docking mechanisms? 
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Post Who may be in the lead conserning docking mechanisms?   Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 10:49 am
Each competitor for the ASP has to develop a docking mechanism.

Who may be best prepared? Does anyone here know of companies having started developments of docking mechanisms for an ASP-team? Which team might come up with a new docking technology?



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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 10:57 am
I thought that Bigelow had agreed with the Russians that he could use the Pirs docking system on his inflatables, all the ASP vehicles would have to use the same.

I dont think that Bigelow wanted the teams to create different docking systems, it makes more sense for everyone to use the same so that there will be a choice of vehicles for him to use.

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 11:20 am
That's puzzling me - Bigelow uses a technology he gets from the Russians but the ASP is restricted to US-based teams? This has been said in onw of the threads asking for the reason of the restriction. The answers to that question were that Bigelow wants to sell to NASA and so it is required that nobody outside the US knows the docking mechanism.

And there has been said that he wants the teams to develop docking mechanisms.

Perhaps my question isn't precise enough - the docking mechanism of a vehicle from my point of view is not only the interface to the other object but the connection between that interface and the vehicle too because it's the door by which passengers leave the vehicle for another vehicle or for a station. ...
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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 1:13 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
That's puzzling me - Bigelow uses a technology he gets from the Russians but the ASP is restricted to US-based teams?


These are 2 different things, my understanding of the situation is this:

Bigelow uses the Russian system because they have no problem with its use around the world by other countries (China will probably use it on their craft). NASA, whose system Bigelow would probably have preferred, were asked to licence the technology to him but they would not allow it on the basis that some of the teams would be foreign (although based in the US) and hence NASA would be knowingly exporting space technology abroad possibly to countries they did not wish too (something they are not allowed to do because of the US treaty preventing this). It should be noted that there is no problem importing space technology into the US.

By allowing only US based teams to compete Bigelow makes sure that he does not fall fail of the same legislation.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
And there has been said that he wants the teams to develop docking mechanisms.
I have not seen this have you got a link Ekkehard.

Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
Perhaps my question isn't precise enough - the docking mechanism of a vehicle from my point of view is not only the interface to the other object but the connection between that interface and the vehicle too because it's the door by which passengers leave the vehicle for another vehicle or for a station
I think that the Pirs system includes this.

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 1:51 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
That's puzzling me - Bigelow uses a technology he gets from the Russians but the ASP is restricted to US-based teams?
I too find that a little strange. I suppose a docking mechanism built in America in accordance with Russian specifications would qualify, but it does sound odd, doesn't it?

Andy Hill wrote:
I have not seen this have you got a link Ekkehard.
Doesn't rule 4 cover that? It says, "The Spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat and be capable of remaining on station for at least six (6) months;"


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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 2:09 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
Doesn't rule 4 cover that? It says, "The Spacecraft must dock or demonstrate its ability to dock with a Bigelow Aerospace inflatable space habitat and be capable of remaining on station for at least six (6) months;"


No it dosent say that the teams must design their own docking mechanism, just that they must be able to dock with a Bigelow inflatable. If he uses the Pirs system then they will probably have to incorporate that in their designs also.

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 2:28 pm
The ability of a vehicle to dock includes the ability to be steered precisely, the ability to maneuver, to navigate etc. - the docking mechanism alone doesn't enable for docking.



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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 3:25 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
The ability of a vehicle to dock includes the ability to be steered precisely, the ability to maneuver, to navigate etc. - the docking mechanism alone doesn't enable for docking.


That is true and I would expect the different teams to come up with different solutions to orbital manouvering of their craft. Going back to your original post I would have thought that this would be dependant upon the vehicle design and would alter accordingly, that said it is probably one of the things that gets done towards the end of the design process once the vehicle's weight, size, shape and layout of major components are known.

No good designing a thruster system until you know how powerful it needs to be or where you can install it on the vehicle. Anyone seen any designs for an ASP craft yet?

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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 4:06 pm
I consider steering , maneuvering and navigation to be rendezvous only. Docking is the actual physical connection of the two vehicles.


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Post    Posted on: Mon May 02, 2005 4:35 pm
campbelp2002 wrote:
I consider steering , maneuvering and navigation to be rendezvous only. Docking is the actual physical connection of the two vehicles.


That is my understanding as well but if Ekkehard chooses to lump the whole thing together that's OK with me. :) I would be interested in seeing any news on craft development or designs that have floated out to the general public, its all been a bit quiet.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 03, 2005 6:42 am
I lumped the aspects together because the quoted rules says that the vehicle has to demonstrate its ability to dock at least. To demonstrate this ability it is insufficient to have the docking mechanism installed but requires to prove that the vehicle can actively move into a situation where the mechanism is of use.

But clearly is has to be proved too that the pilot or the computer has access to the mechanism and can command and handle it properly. This would have to be provided by each ASP-team of itself.



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Post Docking Mechanism   Posted on: Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:03 pm
I have read the rules for the prize, I have also spoken with Bigelow Chief counsel Mike Gold. Here is what I learned:

When the competitor is far enough in the construction of their vehicle the company submits an application for a docking mechanism to the prize board. The prize board evaluates the progress and either authorizes the the release of docking hardware to the company, or issues a list of issues to be resolved prior to release of the hardware.

So what this means is that Bigelow will provide the docking hardware, which really makes the most sense for him. He can then be sure that both pieces will fit correctly before being installed on the separate machines.

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Post    Posted on: Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:16 pm
Hello RatTrap

Did Mike Gold say whether the docking mechanism was Bigelow's own design, the Russian Pirs or the US system used on the ISS?

It would be interesting to know how many teams have formally contacted Bigelow to compete.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:22 am
Hello, Rattrap,

Thank You Very Much for asking Gold. You gave a very interesting information because it is very concrete.



Hello, Andy Hill,

I am interested in the answers to thos questions as well. Regarding the ISS - what do you think about an adapter fitting into docking mecahnism of the ISS on the one side and having Bigelow's docking mechanism on the other side? This way it woulödn't be required to unveil the ISS docking mechanism.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 02, 2006 2:09 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
HRegarding the ISS - what do you think about an adapter fitting into docking mecahnism of the ISS on the one side and having Bigelow's docking mechanism on the other side? This way it woulödn't be required to unveil the ISS docking mechanism.


The need for an adaptor would only arise if Bigelow is using his own docking mechanism and if that is the case I think that it is a better idea to have an extra docking point at a different location rather than using an adapter.

An adapter fitted to an existing docking point would probably require constant moving when different ships docked. I suppose you could join a "T" piece onto an existing docking point to allow a Bigelow craft to dock simultaneously with something else but this might not be possible due to clearances between both craft and the ISS.

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