Docking Ring 1


To enable spacecraft to dock with the Station

This is where other spacecraft link to the space station, so that passengers and supplies can be transferred between the two. There are two docking states: a "soft dock", when the two vehicles come into contact at the docking port; and the "hard dock", when an airtight seal is made mechanically between the two vehicles' docking rings. This is essential for the safe transfer of the passengers.

You are weightless, your senses are confused at first and you may feel motion sickness for the first few days. Your face and arms are puffed up with blood - your heart is used to pumping against gravity. Here there is almost no gravity and all parts of your body are at the same pressure. On Earth, your heart has to work harder to keep blood flowing above it, than below it. It is pumping against what is known as a head of liquid. But pumping is easy, here, and your heart works just as hard as on Earth, at first. It is overcompensating - the consequence, your upper body swells up.

It will take a few days for your heart to adjust to the new conditions.

Time is confusing, as you orbit once round the Earth every 90 minutes, you will have sixteen sunsets in what would normally be a day and night of 24 hours. You will have to decide when you are going to pretend it is night-time and sleep, based on a work and rest pattern that fits in with the requirements of the others on board the space station.

You will be living on board the space station with an international crew. Your companions will be from countries all over the world and you will need to get to know them and work efficiently along side them. It is a closed community where everyone needs to respect each other's views and habits - if you get into an argument with someone you won't be able to avoid them.

Why no artificial gravity?

One of the reasons for the Space Station is to be free of gravity! We can only create artificial gravity by spinning the Station. The floor would then be the outside walls of the Station. Even a station this size would need to spin quite fast and there would be other consequential force effects that would probably make the occupants uncomfortable and objects difficult to handle. So, really, we don't want it.

Lets look at some launch vehicles and shuttle craft that may dock with the Space Station.

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