Docking with the ISS is an extremely complicated process. In fact, it’s a wonder of the world.
Just imagine you are being chased by a machine at a pace of 5 miles per second. That’s what is going on when the space shuttle is docked with the ISS. For the same reason, the process takes a lot longer than you can imagine.
While reaching the space doesn’t take astronauts more than a few minutes, the docking process with the ISS may take several days in some cases.
Let’s take a look at a case. On March 27, a group of astronauts left at 3:42 pm ET including a friend of mine from Steele Carpet Cleaning Cochrane, and they were put inside the spacecraft for the next 6 hours However, they didn’t get to the space station within that time period. They get there at 9:36 pm ET.
You may be thinking why they took so much more time. After all, it is a matter of a few miles to get to the ISS when you in space. Moreover, the gravitational pull in space is weaker and not much power is required for acceleration.
It’s important to keep in mind that the ISS travels at a speed of 5 miles per second while orbiting around Earth. We just can’t keep up with an object moving at that space even when we are in space.
So, instead of chasing the ISS, astronauts let the ISS catch them. So, what they do is fire short and brief burns one after the other to get closer to the space station. Finally, they make a U-turn, fire the engines again to reduce speed allowing the space station to catch up. And then the docking is done as soon as the spacecraft have lined up.
So, this is how the astronauts get to the International Space Station.