Roscosmos, NASA Work Out Security Protocols for Docking Crew Dragon at ISS

An instrumented mannequin sit in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

MOSCOW, March 1, 2019 (Roscosmos PR) — The Roscosmos State Corporation and NASA reached a consensus on ensuring the safety of the crew and the International Space Station itself (ISS) during the automatic docking of the Dragon 2 spacecraft to the US station segment. The specialists of the Mission Control Center and the operational control group of the Russian segment of the ISS will also monitor the docking process according to the protocol, in which it is established that if the proximity mode deviates from the standard one, the docking attempt will be terminated.

Experts of Roscosmos and NASA, studying possible abnormal situations when docking American commercial ships directly to the ISS (bypassing the manipulator in the American segment), came to the conclusion that the implementation of some docking scenarios increases the risk for the station and crew. As a result of painstaking work, the specialists of Roscosmos and NASA have developed options for action to reduce this risk and agreed to conduct this type of docking.

At the same time, the parties also worked out the algorithm of actions during the automatic docking. So, four hatches in the American segment where the American ship will be docked will be closed. In the event of an emergency, the crew will switch first to the Russian segment of the ISS, and then to the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.

Translated from Russian via Google Translate.

  • P.K. Sink

    I wonder if money changed hands and attitudes.

  • therealdmt

    I wonder how long they’ll keep that pre-docking hatch closing procedure up. Permanently?

    Truth be told, I’ve never been thrilled with SpaceX’s “multiple similar redundancy” approach to its computer system for Crew Dragon. Without being at all an expert, I think, just on the face of it, that Russia’s concern about this aspect is legitimate

  • Emmet Ford

    Note to SpaceX PR: stop referring to the docking maneuver as the “orbital hover slam.”

  • Saturn1300

    02:30. Well the Russians must be LOL. Ripley is all scrunched up just about as bad as Soyuz. A little more and her knees will touch her chin. Were is her stick to push the controls? Where is all that room I heard about.? LOL. Here in TBA I heard dripping on the roof form the pines and checking Windmapper it says 100% and mist. The Cape says 93%. They had better hope fog does not roll in and no view. Some shaved headed bald guy talking so I had to turn it off. Try again just before launch. Good Morning.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Given how the Russian almost lost the MIR after slamming one of their Progress craft into it I guess it’s understandable for them to worry when a foreign nation docks a spacecraft to the ISS. After all they know how careless these American capitalists are…

  • Cameron

    Haha yeah that would make anyone nervous!

  • Aerospike

    Would love to know what exactly the issue is. I read something about the fact that crew dragon approaches the station head on for docking instead of from below when cargo dragon gets grappled.
    But that alone can’t be it, since Soyuz/Progress also dock at Zvezda aft port sometimes (and Europe’s ATV also used that port).

  • duheagle

    The issue is the Russians were – allegedly – nervous about what might happen if D2’s flight computer system failed just as it was approaching ISS and crashed into same as a result. To handle this contingency on their own vehicles, the Russians apparently have an entire backup computer box that only cuts in if the main one fails. The D2 flight avionics, so I’m given to understand, are based on two separate clusters of three processors each arranged in a majority vote system where incremental commands are computed independently by each processor, then compared before being issued to the thrusters, etc. The two clusters watch each other too. It’s a very reliable system which is also employed in the avionics of both the F9 1st and 2nd stages.

  • duheagle

    Progress and Soyuz vehicles already dock “harder” than either D2 or Starliner is expected to, yet I’m aware of no such precautionary measures in place for these excursions. Once the D2 has docked a time or two, one hopes NASA would politely tell the Russkies to go piss up a rope anent all this “precautionary” drama.

    SpaceX’s approach to avionics design is not simply “multiple similar redundancy,” it’s “intelligent redundancy” where processors do majority votes before issuing commands. As with RAID storage arrays, the idea is to use multiple components arranged so as to be, in aggregate, more reliable than any single component. With its Silicon Valley roots, SpaceX has no shortage of people on staff who are experts at this sort of thing, not least of whom is the boss man himself.

    The question of the “legitimacy” of the recent Russian complaints is pretty hard to consider in isolation from the fact that, should D2 and/or Starliner prove successful, Russia’s current extortionate seat pricing for its nearly eight-year-old monopoly astronaut delivery and return service evaporates and takes a significant chunk of the Roscosmos budget with it. You do the math.

  • duheagle

    The guilty flee when no man pursueth and all that.

  • duheagle

    Good thing you’re not driving as your eyesight sucks. Compare the image of Ripley that Doug posted to this cozy little shot of Soyuz passengers doing their world-reknowned impression of college frosh stuffing a phone booth.

    Ripley doesn’t look notably “scrunched up” to me. Her legs are highest to keep blood from pooling in them under ascent and descent accelerations. That’s been standard American practice since Mercury. Things are far too crowded on Soyuz to even see the occupants’ legs but one hopes the Russians do things similarly as the Mk. 1 mod 0 human body works pretty much the same everywhere.

  • Robert G. Oler

    the Russians bringing this up is well funny… my every lovely cabin chief yesterday had the best line when I showed it to her. “so were are the metal detectors” LOL