SENER Aeroespacial’s IBDM HCS “Docking Complete”

22/02/2021
SENER Aeroespacial’s IBDM HCS “Docking Complete”

The qualification testing campaign that SENER Aeroespacial is performing on the Hard Capture System (HCS) of the has achieved a paramount step on its pace to the full acceptance of the system.

The International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM) is the European docking system that is capable of docking and berthing large and small spacecraft, compatible with the current ISS International Docking Adapters (IDA) or with the future lunar Deep Space Gateway. The design has the required flexibility to allow the integration of the IBDM into most of the current or future space vehicles.

SENER Aeroespacial, as key part of an European consortium, is developing the Hard Capture System of the IBDM. The function of the HCS is to create a rigid structural connection to allow for a pressurized passageway between the two spacecraft. The HCS it is also responsible for the data, fluid and electrical connections between the mated vehicles. Also, it includes the nominal and emergency separation functions.

At 13:49hr of the 9th of February 2021 a green light indicating “Docking Complete” was tilting at the SENER facilities in Spain. The first hard docking of the new IBDM HCS system designed by SENER Aeroespacial had just been completed.

An Active IBDM HCS captured and hard docked a Passive IBDM HCS placed in front of it. The twelve Hook Capture Mechanisms from the Active HCS operated in two consecutive gangs of six units. The 12x Hooks compressed the seal placed between both HCS tunnels and created a total preload of more than 50 tons between the two tunnels. The sealed interface will allow the movement of astronauts and cargo from the visiting vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) or Deep Space Gateway (DSG).

The separation manoeuvre was then performed, opening the twelve hooks, again in gangs of 6 hooks, but this time taking special care to the synchronisation of the opening speed, critical for assuring a straight release and separation of the departing vehicle. The synchronisation was assured by the electronics automatic control software (SW), that assures that all the hooks maintain the same relative position while opening.

SENER Aeroespacial has now started the pressurization and tightness testing of the mated assembly, followed by the structural fatigue test that will simulate a flight mission of 220 days of the visiting vehicle docked to the ISS.

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