Apollo Docking Mechanism

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Docking Mechanism
Module statistics
Docked 13

The Command Service Module and Lunar Module orientation before contact

The docking system of the Apollo modules was a "probe and drogue" system. The system allowed the Apollo Command/Service Module to dock with the Apollo Lunar Module, and later allowed the ASTP CSM to dock with the Docking Module (an adapter which allowed to dock with the Soyuz 19 spacecraft) and Skylab 2, Skylab 3 and Skylab 4 CSMs to dock with Skylab. There were 12 hard latches.

The Apollo system differed from the Gemini Docking Mechanism in that after locking, the probe and cone mechanism could be manually removed to allow access between the two docked craft. Ideas from this system were instrumental in creating later systems, like those used in the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station, and others.

The Apollo docking system was used successfully in thirteen missions in Earth and lunar orbits between 1969 and 1975. The only serious problems were experienced on Apollo 14 and Skylab 2, when the probe systems failed to capture the drogue receptacles during repeated docking attempts. Successful docking was eventually accomplished in both missions.

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