August 18, 2006

Decision #001 - STANDARDIZE the docking system

While space websites, forums, experts and aerospace companies of the world are "overheated" with long debates about the CEV, other capsules and their (solid, liquid, hybrid, big, small, etc.) rockets, I think that these are NOT the MOST IMPORTANT/URGENT points to decide.

The most important point to decide NOW is the development of an international standard hatch/docking system for ALL ports of ALL future cargo/crew/station (orbital/lunar) vehicles/modules from ALL countries/companies!

To-day there are only four working spacecrafts, the Shuttle (retired soon) the (old) Soyuz/Progress and the Shenzhou, but, within 10-15 years the sky will be FULL of many, different, cargo/crew spacecrafts: the cargo/crew ISS/lunar CEV, the ESA's ATV and ACTS, the Japan cargo H-II, a new Digital-Soyuz and the (less probable now) Kliper, the Shenzhou, new vehicles (from USA, Europe, China, Japan and India, etc.), many COTS vehicles, privates vehicles (from existing and new ventures), many orbital/lunar modules and stations (the finished ISS, new earth/lunar orbits space stations, etc.), different lunar landers, rescue vehicles, etc.

With so many vehicles in the space, there will be (or may be) an INCREDIBLE number of different (planned or emergency) orbital/lunar/resupply/refuel/maintenance/repair/rescue missions, accomplished with different vehicles from different countries!

Well, if we want to design a BETTER and SAFER future in space, we absolutely need that ALL new vehicles (from ALL countries) and also (with adaptors) ALL the old vehicles/modules (like the ISS) MUST connect (with or without a previous planned decision) with its same or with different vehicles (a CEV with another CEV, an LSAM with a lunarSoyuz, a lunarShenzhou with a Lunar Space Station, an european lunar lander with an american resupply/refuel module, etc.).

Then, my FIRST DECISION (as ghostNASA chief) is to start the development of a standard hatch/dockingsystem/port for ALL new vehicles and to SHARE it with ALL countries and private companies that want to implement that (international) standard in their future vehicles (including new Shuttles, if they will be made).

I've decided to build it (and to share its technology) because I think that (in the long term) the standard port will be (or may be) very useful also for ghostNASA, to have better missions and to have the best chances to save our astronauts if something goes wrong!

Of course, the new standard docking system must be the better and safer possible with to-day's technology (without use any old design for "compatibility") "androgynous" (to dock every vehicle with everyone, e.g. two CEV, two Soyuz, etc.) and very easy to dock (also in automatic or remote control mode, very important for rescue and indispensable cargo missions).

Last, it must be fast and easy to undock manually (with simple tools) if necessary (with an EVA and/or from capsule inside).

I think that, don't build/use a standard hatch, is unrational and may become (soon!) a BIG mistake and a BIG risk ...just imagine an international Lunar Space Station with 10+ ports based on 5+ different standards (instead of four/six ports to dock EVERY kind of vehicle!) or an emergency rescue/repair/resupply/refuel mission that become IMPOSSIBLE, not for a lack of vehicles, but for a lack of standards!!!