Mir Docking Module

The Shuttle Docking Module ( SDM ) was a module of the Mir space station, which was developed jointly by the Russian and U.S. space agency to dock the Space Shuttle to the Mir space station.


First thoughts in the then Soviet space program foresaw a special docking module called " SO " (Russian Стыковочный Отсек ), with the Buran space shuttle in the planned space station Mir- 2 could create. After a concept from the 1992 module should also have an airlock for outdoor use and can be docked with the help of a Progress service module on the Mir- 2.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Buran program and the development of the space station Mir- 2 was stopped in 1992 due to financial reasons. Similarly the approach to the U.S. space program was decided and planned flights of the U.S. shuttle to the Mir. When the mission STS -71 for the first docking of the Space Shuttle to the Mir, the crystal module had to be laboriously converted to the radial position on the Mir- coupling adapter so that the space shuttle Atlantis touches and not damage the Mir or their composites. After that Crystal had to be moved to the original position again to clear the radial docking point for Soyuz spacecraft and Progress feeder.

To avoid this costly implementation and related field work in the follow-up missions to American and Russian experts agreed on the development of a special Andockmoduls for expansion of the crystal. By 4.70 m long and 6 tons module, the distance between the shuttle and I should in particular be increased, so that there is no contact and not acted upon by the exhaust gases of the shuttle control nozzles on the I and in particular the sensitive solar panels.

For rapid development of the module was resorted to the plans of the Mir- 2- Andockmoduls " HOW " of the Russian producer RKK Energia. In order to shorten the construction period, this module has been simplified and waives the installation of the airlock for outdoor use. Furthermore, parts of the construction of the Soyuz orbital module could be derived, since this has already been tested in the mission Soyuz TM -16 is necessary for the coupling of crystal docking adapter type APAS 89. The construction was carried out largely in Russia and the SDM was delivered on 7 June 1995 to the Kennedy Space Center.

Start and Installation

The shuttle docking module was the only module of the Mir space station, which has not been conveyed by means of a Proton rocket into space. On November 13, 1995, the SDM launched as a payload of the U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis ( STS -74 ). On the second day of flying, the SDM was lifted from the cargo bay and set to the docking port of Atlantis. Then on November 16, the coupling to the axial APAS docking of the crystal - module and thus the second creating a space shuttle to the Mir space station.

As a special feature two large shipping containers were attached with folded solar panels on the outer wall of the SDM. One of the two panels was developed and manufactured under U.S. participation. After docking of the SDM to the Mir, the two panels were attached to the Kvant module, to improve the power of the Mir complex. After dropping the Atlantis, the SDM remained on Mir, so that it could still serve seven times for docking a space shuttle in the following years.

Scientific tasks

The main task of the SDM was to create the basic conditions for the coupling of a space shuttle to a space station and explore. During the joint Shuttle -Mir flights several tests to check the stability of the whole complex and the impact of firings of thrusters were carried out. Furthermore, the integration of the shuttle was tested as a supply vehicle and the loading and unloading of supplies with the help of the switching module in the Shuttle -Mir program. In addition, the SDM had its own temperature control system, as well as equipment for the transmission of radio and television data. Gauges were located on the outer wall of SDM to verify the effects of cosmic radiation on the space shuttle and space for further experiments. In a spacewalk during the shuttle mission STS -76, four experiments were mounted on the outer skin of the shuttle docking module. These served the research of micro- meteorite impacts and the effects of dust particles. Furthermore, materials for the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) have been investigated.


Through the use of Andockmoduls, eight Shuttle -Mir missions carried out and the shuttle will be placed permanently in the care plan of Me. In addition to the delivery of supplies and crew, it was also possible through the shuttle to take finished experiments and unneeded equipment back to Earth. Since this is only restricted in the Soyuz landing capsule possible research opportunities have been increased to the Mir through the use of the shuttle on. Fundamental insights for ISS modules were taken from the successful use of the SDM. First, the docking module Pirs, which is currently used on the ISS for docking of Soyuz and Progress ships, was developed on the basis of the SO or SDM module. On the other hand, NASA uses the APAS docking system in both the shuttle itself as well as in the three PMA modules of the ISS for docking of shuttles and as a transition between the U.S. and the Russian segment.


  • Harland, David M.; The story of Space Station Mir, Springer- Verlag, Berlin, Heidelberg, New York 2005, ISBN 0-387-23011-4

Basic block | Kwant | Kwant 2 | Crystal | Spektr | Shuttle Docking Module | Priroda

  • Mir space station
  • Space Shuttle
  • Soviet and Russian space
  • NASA