QinetiQ Space is the prime contractor for the development of the International Berthing and Docking Mechanism (IBDM), the European androgynous low impact docking mechanism that is capable of docking and berthing large and small spacecraft.
The IBDM is designed according to the International Docking System Standard (IDSS) and is hence compatible with the future ISS International Docking Adapter (IDA) on the US side of the International Space Station (ISS).
The IBDM is fully redundant, features a safe mode that can work even in case of vehicle power failure and has been successfully tested on the NASA/JSC Six-Degree-of-Freedom Dynamic Test System (SDTS) for a range of vehicles between 5 and 25 tons.
The IBDM is the baselined Docking mechanism on Sierra Nevada’s Dreamchaser.
The IBDM provides both docking and berthing capability. The docking mechanism comprises a Soft Capture Mechanism (SCS), and a structural mating system called the Hard Capture System (HCS). The IBDM avionics runs in hot redundancy.
The key feature of IBDM is that it is a fully computer controlled mechanism having the following SAFE advantages:
The QinetiQ Space capabilities in the system lead and in the development of complex mechanisms is strongly funded on 30 years of experience in the development of all breeds of space projects involving mechanisms, associated control electronics and software and complete validation and verification of the system.
Some examples are:
Postcards from Space: Characterising Exoplanets
Postcards from Space: The next generation of small satellites
Postcards from Space: SODI – A decade in orbit
QinetiQ experiments used on International Space Station