45 Years of Rendezvous and Docking in Space

On Thursday, the European ATV Johannes Kepler will dock with the International Space Station. Rendezvous and docking in space has been taking place for 45 years, and happened first when Gemini 8 hooked up with the Agena Target Vehicle in 1966. Most of us take for granted how two spacecraft rendezvous while in orbit, but it is a complicated procedure involving orbital mechanics, coordination between the two spacecraft, and strict timelines. Here’s a 90-second whirlwind tour of the history of docking in space – past, present and future from ESA. If you want to read more about the history rendezvous and docking, ESA’s ATV blog has a detailed look. Below is a video that describes how the ATV docks at the ISS.

Source: ESA

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