Apollo Docking Mechanism

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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 Skylab 2, Skylab 3 and Skylab 4 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 orbit 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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