Space rendezvous

rendezvousorbital rendezvousrendezvouseddockingrendezvous and dockingdockdockedDocking maneuverrendezvous and docking proceduresRendezvous docking
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance (e.g. within visual contact).wikipedia
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Docking and berthing of spacecraft

dockingdockdocking port
Rendezvous may or may not be followed by docking or berthing, procedures which bring the spacecraft into physical contact and create a link between them.
Spacecraft docking capability depends on space rendezvous, the ability of two spacecraft to find each other and station-keep in the same orbit.

Orbital maneuver

orbit raisingmaneuvermaneuvers
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance (e.g. within visual contact).
For a few space missions, such as those including a space rendezvous, high fidelity models of the trajectories are required to meet the mission goals.

Wally Schirra

Walter SchirraWalter M. SchirraWalter M. Schirra, Jr.
Rendezvous was first successfully accomplished by US astronaut Wally Schirra on December 15, 1965.
In the two-man Gemini program, he achieved the first space rendezvous, station-keeping his Gemini 6A spacecraft within 1 ft of the sister Gemini 7 spacecraft in December 1965.

Gemini 6A

Gemini 6Gemini VIGT-VI A
Schirra maneuvered the Gemini 6 spacecraft within 1 ft of its sister craft Gemini 7.
The mission achieved the first crewed rendezvous with another spacecraft, its sister Gemini 7.

Gemini 4

Gemini IVfirst spacewalkGemini IV'' capsule
The first attempt at rendezvous was made on June 3, 1965, when US astronaut Jim McDivitt tried to maneuver his Gemini 4 craft to meet its spent Titan II launch vehicle's upper stage.
The flight also included the first attempt to make a space rendezvous as McDivitt attempted to maneuver his craft close to the Titan II upper stage which launched it into orbit, but this was not successful.

Gemini 7

7Gemini VIIGT-VII
Schirra maneuvered the Gemini 6 spacecraft within 1 ft of its sister craft Gemini 7.
Their spacecraft was the passive target for the first crewed space rendezvous performed by the crew of Gemini 6A.

Agena target vehicle

Augmented Target Docking AdapterAgenatarget vehicle
The first docking of two spacecraft was achieved on March 16, 1966 when Gemini 8, under the command of Neil Armstrong, rendezvoused and docked with an unmanned Agena Target Vehicle.
The Agena Target Vehicle (ATV,), also known as Gemini-Agena Target Vehicle (GATV) was an uncrewed spacecraft used by NASA during its Gemini program to develop and practice orbital space rendezvous and docking techniques, and to perform large orbital changes, in preparation for the Apollo program lunar missions.

Orbital mechanics

astrodynamicsastrodynamicistorbital dynamics
In 1963 Buzz Aldrin submitted his doctoral thesis titled, Line-Of-Sight Guidance Techniques For Manned Orbital Rendezvous. As a NASA astronaut, Aldrin worked to "translate complex orbital mechanics into relatively simple flight plans for my colleagues." However, the Gemini 4 attempts at rendezvous were unsuccessful largely because NASA engineers had yet to learn the orbital mechanics involved in the process.
The space rendezvous before docking normally takes multiple precisely calculated engine firings in multiple orbital periods requiring hours or even days to complete.

NASA

National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationNASA Advisory CouncilU.S. space program
However, the Gemini 4 attempts at rendezvous were unsuccessful largely because NASA engineers had yet to learn the orbital mechanics involved in the process.
Based on studies to grow the Mercury spacecraft capabilities to long-duration flights, developing space rendezvous techniques, and precision Earth landing, Project Gemini was started as a two-man program in 1962 to overcome the Soviets' lead and to support the Apollo crewed lunar landing program, adding extravehicular activity (EVA) and rendezvous and docking to its objectives.

Gemini 8

Gemini VIII
The first docking of two spacecraft was achieved on March 16, 1966 when Gemini 8, under the command of Neil Armstrong, rendezvoused and docked with an unmanned Agena Target Vehicle.
After being launched into an 87 by orbit, on the fourth revolution it was to rendezvous and dock with an Agena target vehicle, which had been earlier launched into a 161 nmi circular orbit.

Soyuz 3

3Soyuz-3
The first Soviet cosmonaut to attempt a manual docking was Georgy Beregovoy who unsuccessfully tried to dock his Soyuz 3 craft with the unmanned Soyuz 2 in October 1968.
The mission achieved the first Russian space rendezvous with the unmanned Soyuz 2, but failed to achieve a planned docking of the two craft.

James McDivitt

Jim McDivittJames A. McDivittMcDivitt
The first attempt at rendezvous was made on June 3, 1965, when US astronaut Jim McDivitt tried to maneuver his Gemini 4 craft to meet its spent Titan II launch vehicle's upper stage.
The first objective was to attempt the first space rendezvous with the spacecraft's spent Titan II launch vehicle's upper stage.

Human spaceflight

space travelmannedmanned spaceflight
Human spaceflight missions have successfully made rendezvous with six Salyut stations, with Skylab, with Mir and with the International Space Station (ISS).
The US Gemini flights did not accomplish the first spacewalk, but overcame the early Soviet lead by performing several spacewalks and solving the problem of astronaut fatigue caused by overcoming the lack of gravity, demonstrating up to two weeks endurance in a human spaceflight, and the first space rendezvous and dockings of spacecraft.

Neil Armstrong

Neil A. ArmstrongArmstrongJanet Shearon Armstrong
The first docking of two spacecraft was achieved on March 16, 1966 when Gemini 8, under the command of Neil Armstrong, rendezvoused and docked with an unmanned Agena Target Vehicle.
The mission's purpose was to practice space rendezvous and to develop procedures and equipment for a seven-day flight, all of which would be required for a mission to the Moon.

SpaceX Dragon

DragonDragon spacecraftDragon capsule
The Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), SpaceX Dragon, and Orbital Sciences' Cygnus spacecraft all maneuver to a close rendezvous and maintain station-keeping, allowing the ISS Canadarm2 to grapple and move the spacecraft to a berthing port on the US segment.
On 25 May 2012, a cargo variant of Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with and attach to the International Space Station (ISS).

Mir

Mir space stationSpace Station MirMir'' space station
Human spaceflight missions have successfully made rendezvous with six Salyut stations, with Skylab, with Mir and with the International Space Station (ISS).
Radio links were also used during rendezvous and docking procedures and for audio and video communication between crew members, flight controllers and family members.

Lunar orbit rendezvous

an automatic rendezvousflew back to the command moduleLOR
Historically, for the missions of Project Apollo that landed astronauts on the Moon, the ascent stage of the Apollo Lunar Module would rendezvous and dock with the Apollo Command/Service Module in lunar orbit rendezvous maneuvers.
After completion of the mission there, the lander returns to lunar orbit to rendezvous and re-dock with the main spacecraft, then is discarded after transfer of crew and payload.

Apollo command and service module

command moduleApollo Command/Service ModuleApollo Command Module
Historically, for the missions of Project Apollo that landed astronauts on the Moon, the ascent stage of the Apollo Lunar Module would rendezvous and dock with the Apollo Command/Service Module in lunar orbit rendezvous maneuvers.
Two forward-facing triangular rendezvous windows measured 8 by, used to aid in rendezvous and docking with the LM.

International Space Station

ISSInternational Space Station (ISS)Space Station
Human spaceflight missions have successfully made rendezvous with six Salyut stations, with Skylab, with Mir and with the International Space Station (ISS).
Radio links are also used during rendezvous and docking procedures and for audio and video communication between crew members, flight controllers and family members.

Apollo (spacecraft)

Apollo spacecraftApolloLaunch Escape System
After the lunar excursion, the two craft rendezvoused and docked in lunar orbit, and the CSM returned the crew to Earth.

Saturn V

Saturn V rocketSaturnVSaturn
NASA at first dismissed LOR as a riskier option, given that a space rendezvous had yet to be performed in Earth orbit, much less in lunar orbit.

Reaction control system

RCSthrustersRCS thrusters
In the very final phase, the closure rate is reduced by use of the active vehicle's reaction control system.

Androgynous Peripheral Attach System

APAS-95Orbiter Docking SystemAPAS-89
Several unmanned spacecraft use NASA's berthing mechanism rather than a docking port.

Path-constrained rendezvous

It is a more constrained instance of the general problem of orbital rendezvous.

Orbit phasing

orbital phasing loopsphase of the orbitphased
For orbital rendezvous to occur, both spacecraft must be in the same orbital plane, and the phase of the orbit (the position of the spacecraft in the orbit) must be matched.