We’re on our way to fully installing the Passive Common Berthing Mechanism (PCBM) on our Shooting Star™ service module. Shooting Star is an attachment to the Dream Chaser® spaceplane and can carry an additional 10,000 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the International Space Station during our missions for NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2).
Our engineers recently installed the PCBM Ring, which is the first step to assembling the entire PCBM. The PCBM is the universal bridge between visiting spacecrafts and the International Space Station. It’s a standard component used by all companies who send vehicles to berth to the space station. Once Dream Chaser arrives, the Canada Arm moves it underneath the station. As it approaches, the alignment guides on the PCBM assist with lining up the Active Common Berthing Mechanism (ACBM), which is mounted on the space station, and PCBM. Once mated, astronauts can equalize the pressure between the space station and Dream Chaser to enter the vehicle.
The PCBM consists of multiple components that are all critical to the mission, but the molded seals are among the most important. They will create the airtight barrier between Shooting Star and space station and must be protected from contaminants which could jeopardize the seal. Most of the PCBM components will be installed in the coming weeks, but the molded seals remain in protective packaging until their installation right before final testing of the PCBM ring to Shooting Star.