Iris doors: Who approved these?

Iris doors? Oh, they’re very shiny, very high tech. Nothing says “future tech” more than an iris door. But you really don’t see them on spaceships anymore.

What’s the problem with iris doors? Well, a couple of things. First off, they’re complex pieces of hardware. Ever see one with the maintenance panels off? That’s a thousand moving parts, and they all have to work together, otherwise you won’t get the thing to close. And battle damage? One dent or loose bit of debris and it’s not going to close correctly and give you a good seal.

Which brings up the next point; getting a good seal. Each of those iris leafs needs to join just right; otherwise you don’t get one. So that means continual tweaking and maintenance. Also, each seam is one more place you can get a leak. You need to inspect the whole thing to find where you’re losing atmosphere when you do an overpressure test. Give me a good old powered swing hatch or sliding bulkhead door with dog latches any day.

Chief Engineer Vilpol
“I Told You So: An Engineer’s Life”

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