A docking ring is a piece of orbiting technology that, through the use of super strong crystalline polymers and frictionless bearings, assists the smooth atmospheric entry of any interstellar vessel that has the ability to land. Invented in 130 AS by Valhalla Research (later renamed Ageira Technologies), these ‘orbital elevators’ almost completely negate the cost of boosting people or materials out of a planetary gravity well. Docking rings revolutionized exploration and industry almost overnight, opening up entire systems for commercial exploration and exploitation. Ageira licenses this technology to the other houses, who in turn agree to design all ships (except for special exploratory and survey vessels), to work with the docking ring system.
WARNING: Do not approach a planet and attempt a landing without using the docking ring.