Universal Berthing Mechanism Standard

With the growing demand for orbital stations on the horizon, standardization of common elements will assist in lowering cost and increasing access to more industries. Few components require standardization more than the berthing port. Many of current berthing port designs are hidden behind proprietary designs and information, limiting access to valuable information to allow for compatibility across various systems.

The ultimate goal of the project is to define the Universal Berthing Mechanism (UBM) standard, that could be used by any player in this arena.

The UBM standard will allow commonality between any orbital infrastructure with this standard while lowering cost with an open source design and guidelines.

The project aims to outline guidelines to manufacturing process ideas and limitations of use, describe typology architecture for flexible combinations of different elements: multifunctional pressurized volumes for people, docking systems, solar panels, radiation panels, ECLSS, storage and manufacture add-ons.

Please join us in this effort on Discord Channel!


Project timeline can be viewed here

DUBAI  IAC2021 IPosters Interactive presentation

DUBAI IAC2021 Presentation video

DUBAI IAC2021 White paper 

UBM functional diagram




Recent Discord Chat

Pablo Mayrgundter April 17, 2022 @ 8:36pm
Pablo Mayrgundter April 17, 2022 @ 8:21pm
fyi https://contact.lockheedmartin.com/map
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski April 16, 2022 @ 8:34pm
Lets keep it for a while. I was out for a long time. Now only catching up. If my Iac evacuation submission will be accepted I think we may archive the UBM
rough93 April 13, 2022 @ 1:02am
Should I archive this category for now?
Cimmero (Enrico) March 27, 2022 @ 10:18am
Yea I know, but we have a benchmark now. I remember we thought it would have been much more expensive. Then the BO architect at the IAC said "actually is not that expensive, in the order of 15-20M$"
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski March 26, 2022 @ 12:18pm
And it is only 800 mm wide
Cimmero (Enrico) March 12, 2022 @ 8:37am
International docking adapter v.3 Cost 22.5m $, weight 534kg
Cimmero (Enrico) March 12, 2022 @ 8:37am
Cimmero (Enrico) March 3, 2022 @ 1:04pm
Interesting for the UBM the part "open architecture that uses standard docking and berthing ports to allow all qualified space vehicles to provide cargo, crew, and payload delivery services"
Cimmero (Enrico) March 3, 2022 @ 1:03pm
Free conference by the Sierra Space commercial director. Only problem is the time, about 3:00am for Europeans
Cimmero (Enrico) March 3, 2022 @ 1:02pm
Cimmero (Enrico) March 3, 2022 @ 1:02pm
"He will detail the Sierra Space Dream Chaser spaceplane, the LIFE Habitat, and the open architecture that uses standard docking and berthing ports to allow all qualified space vehicles to provide cargo, crew, and payload delivery services. Ken will also discuss the end-to-end services provided such as assistance with system hardware development, and the robotics and crew-tended operations. All these elements are geared toward providing commercial services by 2027".
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 8, 2022 @ 10:45am
"Rats fighting in a sack" is probably an accurate description
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 8, 2022 @ 10:44am
The UK launch site farce has proven how difficult it can be, even with a national regulator that wants them to be built
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 8, 2022 @ 10:44am
That too
Cimmero (Enrico) February 8, 2022 @ 10:44am
i think that is more for the environmental regulations (protected area) and the fact that they are self funding (very capital intense)
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 8, 2022 @ 10:41am
Biggest issue I could imagine is getting the support infrastructure in place in such a remote location. We've seen how difficult it's been for SpaceX to build up their range and tankage systems at Boca Chica, which is in situated in the heart of one of the biggest petrochemical industry regions on Earth
SeanW February 8, 2022 @ 10:37am
Also, Namibia has some of the best deserts to test lunar an Mars rovers. Space and Desert is a plenty. But not sure how valuable that really is, its not such a rare comodity.
bigred February 8, 2022 @ 9:36am
@​Sean yes agree with that. it makes for interesting thought.... having a lot of contact in china perhaps i can cook up something even for the support industry or small launch systems (micro-sat etc). I actually never thought about the chinese impact in namibia.... interesting. @​Cimmero (Enrico) very.... which is one of the reasons i have entertained the thoughts 🙂
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 6:00pm
not to mention being on a strategic latitude
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 5:16pm
The skeleton coast is huge, Namibia has a lot of space to put a lunch pad.
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 5:14pm
@​bigredNamibias majority political partys main partners at the moment includes China (and N Korea, but we dont talk about that). They have bought into a lot of Chinese debt and there is loads of money moving under the table. Simple corruption means the main party is easy to buy. Going in there to build a launch pad may not be too stupid if you can sell it as a launch site for Chinese "private" rocket companies. Now that I think if it, this also applies to Mozambique, but their situation is not worth too much thought. The issue I see with this thought, is that which ever company launches from there with any objective you mentioned will have to be based in Namibia, which will make finding investors really hard. Overall, Namibia is stable, they just have idiotic politicians. TIA
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 5:02pm
as a member of IAF i can say they can be helpful for some networking. Things like getting evelyn in front of people who can help her get a job she wants, getting help in putting papers out there for publishing, getting involved in the support industry with the agencies etc. However for big ticket contracts they are not the format. Getting involved with the programs that the current incumbent players have on offer is the real way in. See enen musk took the approach of fixing problems which they wanted fixed in the system they sponsor. This is why i advocated this approach to the agencies. @​Sean i have some thoughts on namibia with some contact on a large plot of land on the coast. I have privately considered the thought you are suggesting. The problem is that of political and finance. They have just come out of years of political and military problems. It would be touchy politically but an interesting challenge 🙂
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 7, 2022 @ 4:48pm
It's a 100% Renderite station for now, if it wasn't they'd be showing off engineering tests
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 4:46pm
I can also 100% garantee that the local intern is making these renders and not the engineering team. No way they will have such large windows so close to the docking adaptors.
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 4:45pm
They are probably still at the stage where they are working with the various suppliers to see how to best make this thing. They seem to be taking the opposite approach to SpaceX, and that is to outsource everything. From a political stance, this is smart
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 4:43pm
it makes sense to do this. Your mostly limited by fairing diameter, so by bringing the berthing modules flush they can increase the diameter of the whole module.
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 7, 2022 @ 4:43pm
I honestly doubt the Orbital Reef team have put any thought into it beyond either "we should design our own system" or "we should use CBM". If they have, they're further along than I realise
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 4:39pm
to follow on your note about 7m diam, here in the Orbital Reef they appear to use some different solution, a sort of streamlined berthing to connect the cylinders (I am talking about the central spine)
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 2:41pm
have to say that the ESA website is the opposite of efficient when you need to find a specific thing
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 2:41pm
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 2:38pm
i guess i will start to watch these videos and get into the system... https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Sets/Financing_space_options_for_SMEs_and_midcaps_in_Europe/(result_type)/videos
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 12:27pm
In our case, ESA, NASA etc. The missing point is Musk's money. @​bigred do you think it would help to get us in the radar, NA becoming member of IAF?
Cimmero (Enrico) February 7, 2022 @ 12:25pm
I would say that the point B - Musk style, is the most feasible from a human standpoint.
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 10:30am
Oh, or Mozambique, they have really good sites to launch from
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 10:28am
But 100% spot on. NA can only really focus on research (cause its fun) and developing small niche solution. Funding is the #1 issue, even if we do manage to convince Namibia to build a launch pad
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 10:27am
For point A - I may need to go visit some family in Namibia soon. May as well go see the government about a launch pad
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:11am
To answer @​Szymek (Simon) Matkowski question above about blue origin.... they mentioned 2 areas they were concerned about: a) the mass and structural integrity ratio b) the problem with pressure distortion on large egress units. in fact the ONLY real engineering item they discussed was (b). And they specifically said that in their own testing and modelling they have found that this one thing is almost too difficult for them to control. So for UBM the major difficulty is to find a way to remove this distortion effect caused by internal pressure. The second area would of course be the structural engineering involved in handling the sheering movements of the attached units' mass. The ideas involved in the UBM are great (I would go as far as to say revolutionary) however I have a lot of doubts about the engineering load handling ability of the unit and the attachment to the OCS.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:09am
. I have mentioned all this often in the past... While the design of big ticket items is fun and necessary the real area NA should be looking at, if we want to go commercial in any way, is being involved in the tender for solutions and the outreach design and development programs which each partner or agency currently runs. They are not interested in a new design that they didnt sponsor. They are interested in finding solutions to the problems within their own designs. Personally I dont know which way is the best however I do know it will be a very very long time (all of us here will be dead I expect) before the general population is allowed to go to space or private industry is allowed to design, launch and maintain habitats in space.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:09am
. The truth of this situation can be clearly seen in the stories of the 3 major visible billionairs who have endeavoured to go down this path in recent years. 2 of them tried to fight the system and are now basically being sidelined for the big ticket items. The other one went in under the radar and is getting the big ticket items. We even see a change in the methodology of tendering designed specifically for spaceX to win those contracts. This is the root cause of the problem you are discussing above. All the advice given to my family companies (especially SpaceTek) has been to get heavily involved in the space SUPPORT industry and try to work within the outreach programs, systems, and methodologies used currently to design solutions to what THEY see as problems. We started out just building support equipment and agricultural solutions for habitats in hostile environments such as antarctica, central australia and the arctic. These solutions are seen as part of the support industry not space living/habitat/launch/civilisation/engineering in the manner that the various controlling partners and agencies of the space industry see it. We just supply some ideas and designs to problems THEY need a fix for.... and in that way we get our foot in the door.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:09am
c) build a very large consortium of companies who can corner the "space travel SUPPORT industry". this consortium would need to be politically and physically involved in projects that, although meant ultimately for space, would give direct benefits to this planet for the major social, environmental and political problems. They would need to be very visible in the design, development and implementation of these projects and to ensure that the projects were on a very large scale. This approach builds a groundswell within the general industry and the population at large. Once the consortium is recognised as the major player in the support industry it will seem only logical to the general popoulation that they move into the next phase of designing and implementing their own platforms in space and retaining ownership (which is currently legislated against). this is an even longer haul and is much much less likely to get financial support due to the ROI being quite a way away for the large investments needed to pull it off.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:09am
b) slide in under the radar using the system against itself such as mr musk has done. Using NASA and the military's need to have relevance, recognition, public appeal and money, spaceX offered to take NASA tech and develop it payng all the dev costs and insurance and taking all liability for accidents and testing. Suddenly NASA looks good, doesnt have to spend money, can get a public image fix and doesnt take the blame for all the problems/accidents/deaths/cost over-runs/etc. Then after a while NASA and the military basically have to rely on spaceX for everything and spaceX can become the boeing, northrup, jpl etc to design and determine the standards and testing for going to space. The regulatory framework then starts to get changed and eventually more private enterprise is allowed in. This is also a long haul project.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:08am
a) start a new nation state (somehow get it recognised and supported by UN and the current financial system) or go to a nation which has not signed the UNOST and begin a space industry. They can claim sovereign rights to design rockets - however they will have to fight being branded a "rogue state" and therefore sanctioned for sale of parts or transfer of technology. this is a long haul project however it has the advantage of being able to entice public appeal, imagination and to bring on private enterprise quickly before sanctions begin. This approach relies on a lot of political connection and the ability to build a support industry and keep it in the spotlight while preparing for launch capability. This is the only method to circumvent the prohibitions of the general populace going to space in the near future. And even then those heading to space would need to become citizens of that state and give up any citizenship of a state who has instigated the almost mandatory prohibition laws upon signing the UNOST.
bigred February 7, 2022 @ 10:08am
I think basically most people have the gist of the problem above. Yesterday I had a business meeting with a friend of mine who is a space lawyer here in Dubai. He outlined the main problem in much the same manner as I have expressed here in the past.... "The barriers to the general population going into space are the political and military regulations which have come from the reasons for creating the UNOST. These must be addressed before any general commercial manned space growth is possible." These problems relate to why the UNOST was created and who created it..... the current outcome is entirely due to human nature. There are enormous barriers created via many avenues which stand to ensure that the individual entitiy cannot actually get involved with the level of industry that is needed to actually achieve the business plan necessary to build, launch, supply and maintain a manned habitat in space. The majority of those are legal or pseudo legal regulations. According to quite a number of people I have spoken to within the support and legal industry surrounding space travel, generally there are 3 ways to overcome this problem within the current legal and political system...
SeanW February 7, 2022 @ 5:15am
It really depends on how long you want to keep working on it. 10 Years is a long time to get no return on something. Getting into the space industry was never going to be easy
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 8:06pm
10y lobbying is not feasible with funds from other products
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 8:05pm
We are saying here that basically UBM does not have a future
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 7:32pm
That is a good point, but not great if one wants to start a startup to build space stations. 😆
SeanW February 6, 2022 @ 6:23pm
I still feel the next standard will start happening when 7+m diameter modules get launched. This is a while away, but it will happen at some stage. Its not feasible to build a 100+ person station when everyone needs to pass through small doors. So If I had to propose a strategy for the UBM, is keep talking to people in the industry and develop the standard. Its a long shot idea, but you want the idea in other peoples heads early. You have more than 10 years before you need to worry about bending metal
SeanW February 6, 2022 @ 6:19pm
I very much agree with @​Sam (FARMM) . To get a new standard berthing module is only really possible if you are planning on building out a lot of infrastructure that is not dependent on other standards. China has their own standard. Russia had/has their own too. But they are completely independent of each other. If you want to sell the UBM, it needs to be part of a whole infrastructure roll out that does not rely on existing standards. The UBM is awesome, but existing customers who are looking to expand or work with NASA will absolutely keep the existing standard.
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 6:08pm
@​bigred @​Sean do you have any take on this?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:52pm
That's how I see it yes
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:51pm
Basically you need a strong institutional backing, and with that set up a table with these companies. This is even before starting to engineer the product
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:50pm
Oh yes i remember the weight question
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:49pm
More or less. Or a standards committee. But they already exist for other things and are run by representatives from each company, not a newcomer
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:48pm
Basically create a consortium
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:48pm
Anything apart from this - especially, especially a startup with only one space station in mind - isn't a standard. It's just another design which will probably get pushed out of the market by cheaper flight-proven alternatives
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski February 6, 2022 @ 5:47pm
if ever
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski February 6, 2022 @ 5:47pm
Blue Origin asked one question: what is the weight Then he said - they are not interested in development nor financing - they are interested in ready product
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:47pm
If you wanted to actually make UBM the standard, you'd have to: - talk to all 4 space station companies and determine their actual needs for large-diameter berthing in the next decade - tear down the CBM design and see exactly where it fits and doesn't fit the new specification - do a systems analysis to prove that your new design fits the specification - design the standardised end of the port (the actual connection ring and MEP plates). Ignore the saddle, that'll be different for every station. This HAS to be funded by all 4 major players plus NASA, ESA and anyone else with any meaningful stake in the space station game - rigorously test the system using that same budget - present all companies with the finished system, which they are now free to use for their own stations by virtue of the initial buy-in. Any newcomers have to pay to access. Everyone manufactures their own port to interface internally with their own station systems - fire all engineers apart from a minimal support and maintenance staff to help partners troubleshoot issues. Eventually those staff are poached by the partners to reduce outsourcing costs - job well done
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:46pm
Probably need some extra strength point, like a lean/ cheap approach to some of the more complex components
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:44pm
Would be interesting to bounce the concept with people from ESA and industry and see their feedback
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:43pm
You could say the same for the falcon 1 though?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:42pm
It's more a case of, we don't have any magical technology platform that makes it better than competitors, and it's not such a specialised problem that another company couldn't do it. All we've done is thought of the idea first. Which for a system this deliberately simple doesn't give us any meaningful head start or differentiation over a copy
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:40pm
Yes, this is true. But I am looking at startups that have done products, and a lot of them could be done by bigger companies. Sometimes you need to try
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:39pm
@​Szymek (Simon) Matkowski @​Cameron (SSAM) do you remember what the blue origin engineer said about the UBM? Can't remember the feedback there
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:39pm
Although I'm pretty sure they wouldn't want to buy it, considering they can read our paper and reverse engineer the concepts in maybe a week of engineer team
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:38pm
The risk is all financial, not technical
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:38pm
Sell the idea itself to Nanoracks/Blue/Northrup and have them do the design and manufacture themselves?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:38pm
I can guarantee the first questions they'd ask if you pitched this - why do you think you can do this better than us? We can build our own large-diameter port if we want - how much extra is it going to cost us to do it this way? And surely outsourcing to you means it'll cost more than doing it in-house? - how much is this going to slow down our existing program? It took Boeing 5 years to develop CBM
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:37pm
What would it take to retire the risk?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:36pm
It's still a massive chicken and egg problem
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:36pm
Sure you can not enter when they have done the PDR and say: hey here is our berthing !
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:35pm
I think you need to enter in the discussion with the client early in the design stage. For the ECLSS and Berthing port as well
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:31pm
Even ECLSS is probably a more viable business model, because you can sell it as an encapsulated product. The market is still close to zero but you don't need to redesign all your infrastructure to work with it
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:31pm
Again the railway tracks analogy > A new startup announces a radical new wide-gauge switching system, allowing trains to run 3x faster and the hardware to be installed in half the time. Promises to revolutionise train operations, particularly in railyards which are especially switching-dense. > Startup gets a few $M in funding to build functional mockups, de-risk certain key elements. Finally has the confidence to approach rail operators. > Network Rail "sorry we aren't interested in overhauling our existing network" > DB "we already have in-house switching system designs, we don't need yours" > Amtrak "we don't have the budget to work beyond the 10 year horizon" > > The startup still has an excellent switching system but nobody to use it, and no way of ever using it. They can't raise the $B required to build their own rail system and none of the rail companies want to use it. > The startup goes broke.
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:30pm
As I see it, is like a ECLSS product, you need a destination. And so for many other components
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:27pm
For launch companies you can still build a rocket and fly it without any viable business plan. UBM-Inc couldn't even fly without being so closely tied to a space station company, they might as well just buy the whole thing
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:26pm
Except there's no path to market except via someone else's business plan
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:26pm
But your point is right, and is part of the red flags in the NASA CLD report. You need connections to suppliers AND potential clients
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:25pm
Isn't that all space companies'problem?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:25pm
I wouldn't work at a company with that business plan because it seems so incredibly risky that it'll just fail to sell the product to the station providers and then explode with $100M in debt
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:24pm
Otherwise it's just a startup screaming "if you fund us, we'll sell our product to these 3 people!" Everyone will be asking "is it not a good enough idea that they want to buy it themselves? Something seems wrong with it..."
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:23pm
Need to get those funds somewhere 😆
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:23pm
For sure
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:23pm
If you could start by working with an existing space station provider to switch a series of modules over from CBM to UBM, then maybe
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:23pm
How I see it, is the UBM as a product for BtoB
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:22pm
Do you think a business case can be built on the fact that there will be an increase in commercial space stations, and they will be potential clients?
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:18pm
UBM Inc doesn't have anything until it has a space station
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:18pm
The difference is that Nanoracks have a marketable product very quickly - selling payload space on the ISS that they've leased from NASA
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:17pm
A bit like Nanorack, that you mentioned the other day
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 5:17pm
I was thinking about it as part of an ecosystem of products for space stations, with final product, a space station
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:13pm
An equivalent might be a startup making railway points without making the rails
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:13pm
They require compatible space station modules to have a point, otherwise it's just highly engineered scrap metal
Ross (/u/_albertross) February 6, 2022 @ 5:13pm
There's no point having a startup doing just UBMs
Cimmero (Enrico) February 6, 2022 @ 3:39pm
Should we startup this
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski February 6, 2022 @ 9:48am
Mep passages are reconfigurable and there is a space to provide many connections inside. More over capacity of future Mep connections reach 6times the whole iss capacity. And all of it just in one connection between 2ubm's
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski February 6, 2022 @ 9:45am
Ubm is symmetrical and androgyonus so you build one type
Szymek (Simon) Matkowski February 6, 2022 @ 9:44am
Ubm is not a docking unit Passage is 2x2m therefore it can be used in orbital and celestial bases It allows the passage of goods of size almost like in cargo commercial airplanes It hosts all mep systems inside so eva for connection an maintenance is excluded
Cimmero (Enrico) February 5, 2022 @ 3:17pm
@​Szymek (Simon) Matkowski if you can pitch to an investor the difference between UBM and International docking system, in 4-5 points, what would that be?