Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A space rendezvous between two spacecraft, often between a spacecraft and a space station, is an orbital maneuver where the two arrive at the same orbit, make the orbital velocities the same, and bring them together (an approach maneuver, taxiing maneuver); it may or may not include docking.
- A visit to the International Space Station (manned) by:
- Visit to the Hubble Space Telescope (unmanned), for servicing, by Space Shuttle (manned), and possibly in future by the Hubble Robotic Vehicle (HRV) to be developed (unmanned)
- Moon landing crew returning from the Moon in the ascent stage of the Apollo Lunar Module (LM), to the Apollo Command/Service Module (CSM) orbiting the Moon (Project Apollo) (both manned)
- The STS-49 crew attached a rocket motor to the Intelsat VI (F-3) communications satellite to allow it an orbital maneuver
Alternatively the two are already together, and just undock and dock in a different way:
- Soyuz spacecraft from one docking point to another on the ISS
- in the Apollo spacecraft, an hour or so after Trans Lunar Injection of the sequence third stage of the Saturn V rocket/ LM inside LM adapter / CSM (in order from bottom to top at launch, also the order from back to front with respect to the current motion), with CSM manned, LM at this stage unmanned:
- the CSM separated, while the four upper panels of the LM adapter were disposed of
- the CSM turned 180 degrees (from engine backward, toward LM, to forward)
- the CSM connected to the LM while that was still connected to the third stage
- the CSM/LM combination then separated from the third stage
Another kind of "rendezvous" was in 1969, when the Apollo 12 mission involved a manned landing on the Moon within walking distance of the unmanned Surveyor 3, which had made a soft landing in 1967. Parts of the Surveyor were brought back. Later analysis showed that bacteria had survived their stay on the Moon.
On August 12, 1962 Vostok 3 and Vostok 4 were placed into adjacent orbits and passed within several kilometers of each other, but did not have the orbital maneuvering capability to perform a space rendezvous. This was also the case on June 16, 1963 when Vostok 5 and Vostok 6 were launched into adjacent orbits.
An example of an undesired rendezvous in space is an uncontrolled one with space debris.
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