Space Station Docking Video

One of the most difficult maneuvers I can imagine is the rendezvous and docking connection of two spacecraft in orbit.  They’ve launched at different times, they are travelling several thousand kilometers per hour, and they are orbiting the Earth 400 Km above the surface.  And yet human ingenuity has prevailed and allowed us to not just perform this procedure, but to experience it as humans trapped on the surface.  This NASA video shows a real time docking procedure.

I can’t help but think of the video game Kerbal Space Program, an excellent space program simulator for anyone who loves the idea of building and launching rockets, exploring other planets, and building all kinds of amazing space vehicles.  In the game it is very tough to perform docking, and sometimes it takes longer than the real thing!

Orbital mechanics are an amazing thing though.  It’s all about relativity! Even though both craft are travelling as much as 8 kilometers per second, they appear motionless relative to each other, and only small adjustments are required to match their speeds.  Its exactly the same as driving on a highway and seeing cars appear motionless relative to yours.

Science FTW!

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