APAS (Androgynous Peripheral Docking Unit)

Part of the spaceship
Date of appearance: 1973
Manufacturer: RSC Energia
Made in: Moscow, USSR
Dimensions: 2.06 × 2.06 × 1.52 m
Weight: 410 kg
Materials: aluminium, steel, glass fiber
Tags: cosmos, birthofnewage, polytech, space, translate


The APAS (Androgynous Peripheral Docking Unit) is the key mechanism used for docking spacecraft in space, for example, for docking additional modules to the space station. It was developed by the design bureau of RSC Energia in the early 1970s. The docking systems are divided into two main classes: the active-passive and universal. In the first case, the two units of the mating ships are not symmetrical, most often one has the shape of a pin, and the other — the cone. Such system is more accurate, but not universal: two spaceships with identical ports (ring-ring or cone-cone) will not be able to dock. To address this shortcoming an androgynous unit was developed: one APAS would always able to dock to another, regardless of whether it is passive or active. For the first time, APAS-75 was used in July 1975 during the test flight of Soyuz — Apollo. With APAS system ships successfully mated twice and were docked for almost 47 hours. Later arrived some more sophisticated versions of docking systems — APAS-89 and APAS-95, the latter is still used these days. On the International Space Station, the single docking mechanism is in use that allows the station to dock ships like H-II Transfer Vehicle, Cygnus and Dragon SpaceX.

APAS (Androgynous Peripheral Docking Unit)
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