Saturday, March 22, 2014

Retro Saturday: The Mission of Apollo-Soyuz


Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: wdtvlive42 YouTube channel.

With U.S.-Russian relations deteriorating due to the Ukraine crisis, I thought we'd use Retro Saturday to visit a happier time.

This week's film is The Mission of Apollo-Soyuz, a 1975 documentary about the rendezvous in space between the two great spacefaring nations that symbolically ended the Space Race, if not quite yet the Cold War.

Apollo-Soyuz — or as it was known on the Soviet side, Союз-Аполлон — in many ways became the foundation for today's International Space Station. Today's ISS docking ports, for example, are descended from Apollo-Soyuz. It's called the Androgynous Peripheral Attach System, or APAS. It was designed by Vladimir Syromyatnikov of RSC Energia. In Russian, it's Андрогинно-периферийный агрегат стыковки.

APAS would have been used by the Soviet orbiter Buran to dock with the Mir space station. After Buran was cancelled, NASA used the Buran adapter for orbiter dockings with Mir.

On today's ISS, APAS is only used to dock with the Russian ports. In 2015, the SpaceX Dragon will deliver new NASA Docking System (NDS) adapters to comply with new international docking and berthing standards. The Bigelow Aerospace expandable habitats may use NDS ports in the future.

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