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Orbiter Instrument Training

Docking to Station

You should be within 50 km of station before you begin your final approach. Prepare for docking by bringing up the Dock MFD and request clearance to dock. Now open the bay doors or docking port doors. Look at the Docking HUD and rotate your ship until you are pointing toward the relative velocity vector. You should stop your motion relative to target by thrusting toward the velocity vectorball.

Once your velocity is near zero, rotate toward the target station and thrust. Soon you will be closing in on the target. At some point the target may begin to slip away again. Stop all relative motion as describe above and begin thrusting toward target again. Be careful though not to build up to much velocity. Eventually you will come to within 2 or 3 km of target station and will need to come to a complete stop relative to it. At this point you can begin docking procedures.

Procedure for Delta glider or Shuttle A

Set yourself up at the last floating window.  

Reference section 13.2 of the users manual
With rotational thrusters:

Rotate ship to square up with the path of windows ahead. You should see the big red X in the MFD target circles. Use fine thrust for pitch and bank until target X turns grey and sits dead center of MFD target.

There is a red arrow that sits outside the outermost MFD target ring. This arrow is for yaw. Rotate yaw until the red arrow in the MFD points up on the outermost target ring and turns white. You have now lock in the ships orientation to the stations port. You should not have to rotate the ship anymore, therefore toggle rotational thrusters off ( numpad[/] ) and  linear thrusters on. Congratulations you have now completed the easy part.

With translation thrusters:

With linear(translation) thrusters, begin to center the shuttle port to the station port. Look for the large crosshairs( Target indicator ) in the MFD target circles. When you thrust a yellow arrow ( Tangential speed vector ) will appear stemming from the center. Thrust so that the yellow arrow points toward the Target indicator so that the Target indicator will begin to move toward center. It will blow past center though unless you reduce the yellow speed vector until it disappears. Another words, as you move toward center you will need to slow and stop by using reverse fine thrust. As with every motion in space you have to undo what you do, or else you keep on going. Hey, blame it on Newton.

Begin closing in on the station by using fine forward thrust. As you close in on the station the target cone shrinks down to center. You will have to make fine adjustment to keep the crosshairs green and on center the closer you get to port. This part is a constant battle at first but becomes increasingly easier with practice. I find this easiest with the keyboard but the joystick may prove to be more realistic and fun. It's a mental exercise to figure out which thruster does what. After a while it becomes second nature and you don't have to think.

Be careful to watch the velocity bars on the Docking MFD. When closing in on the last center circle begin to bleed off must of forward velocity. You will need to be <1m/s before contact. The MFD will inform you when you are lock down and docked. If you pass through the port your velocity was too high.

Procedure for Space ShuttleStation

The above is true until you do your first dock with the Space Shuttle. Then all the rules change and a different set of thrusters must be used to accomplish the same task. You have to relearn all your thruster maneuvers. You are no longer going straight on and docking with your nose. Now you must flip the shuttle nose down and move the cargo bay towards the station port.

What I do is enter the floating frames three or four of them out from port, instead of flying through the outmost frame on in. I'm referring to the windows that appear on the HUD that guide you in. So in a sense you are really intersecting the guide path 3 or 4 frames out from station port and stoping there. Of course you have to be careful not to pass through the path. You won't be able to see the floating window frames any longer. At this point you must rely on the Docking MFD to get you in.

The good news is that the Docking MFD works the same way. So follow the same procedures as with nose docking craft above, just know that you will be using a different set of thrusters. The other freaky thing is that you can't see the station during all this. You may want to cheat now and then and use external view.

To close in on the station with the Space Shuttle though you don't want to go foward but "up". This is done with linear thrust numpad [2] key. Numpad [8] will push you away or slow your approach. The Docking MFD has two indicator bars. One for distance to station the other for closing velocity. When the velocity bar is yellow the ship is closing in on station port

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