New International Standard for Spacecraft Docking

Partners in the International Space Station programme have agreed on a new standard for docking systems, which will be capable also of implementing berthing. The agreement allows a range of compatible, but not necessarily identical, mechanisms for spacecraft docking. A first agreed version of the Interface Definition Document will be released on 25 October.

The International Docking System Standard (IDSS) provides the guidelines for a common interface to link spacecraft together. It builds on the heritage of the Russian developed APAS system (Androgynous Peripheral Attachment System) used for the Space Shuttle for the ‘hard docking’ and the innovative soft-capture features of the new NASA and ESA systems. Other agencies will be free to choose specific features behind the interface.

The initial IDSS definition document will be released into the public domain on 25 October. It will contain a preliminary description of the physical features and design loads of the standard docking interface.

The technical teams from the five ISS partner agencies will continue to work on additional refinements and additions to the initial standard. ESA, NASA, Roscosmos, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency are represented on the Multilateral Coordination Board, which coordinates Station activities among the partners.

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