Questions tagged [design]

Questions about how space vehicles and related hardware are designed. See also [structural-design] and [engine-design].

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1answer
103 views

What is the Starship forward dome?

What is the Starship forward dome? How does it look like? What other parts are connected to it and what is it good for?
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1answer
290 views

What was this strange design for the Man In Space Soonest program?

The following picture shows various spacecraft design proposals for the 1958 U.S. Air Force Man In Space Soonest program: The bottom row depicts various spaceplanes, which should not be a surprise ...
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9answers
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Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft, or

Space News's Human error blamed for Vega launch failure Analysis of the telemetry from the mission, along with data from the production of the vehicle, led them to conclude that cables to two thrust ...
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2answers
145 views

How to get started with CubeSats

I am new both to CubeSats and to Stack Exchange. I have recently started studying and planning on how to build a CubeSat, as cheaply as possible. I have read some blog posts and watched some videos, ...
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1answer
200 views

MT-135 Sounding Rocket info / design

I'm searching for any design file or deep-info on the MT-135 rocket, the fuel used, engines, engines info, any thing really. I have deep-searched on tons of sites but I just find few missions that ...
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1answer
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Finding the mass flow rate of a blowdown system?

This is a rather amateur question I will admit but how does one find the mass flow rate of an engine with a given tank pressure? Is it really as simple as calculating the cross-section of all plumbing,...
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1answer
171 views

What's the status and timeline for Millimetron? (Russia's 10m Deployable Antenna cooled to 6 K Earth-Space VLBI)

Comments below an answer to How does NASA's ASTHROS stratospheric telescope compare to its James Webb space telescope? link to JPL's Paul F. Goldsmith's The Renaissance of High Resolution ...
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1answer
178 views

Do space suit designers exist?

I was just having a closer look at the new space-suits by SpaceX, that were worn by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (image below this question). The design made me wonder about who may ...
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152 views

Why are the SpaceX Starship, “rings” the width that they are?

Why are the SpaceX Starship, "rings" the width that they are? Wouldn't creating the rings from SS that's twice as wide reduce the welding by half?
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What are the most common practical design specifications for antenna in space?

I'm writing my thesis on antennas for small satellite applications (cubesats). Apart from the electrical specifications related to the particular application there are also several other "...
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1answer
230 views

Could a rocket's reentry capsule be slowed down by a centrifugal flyweight governor system? [closed]

I am wondering if a rocket's reentry capsule could be slowed down by a built-in centrifugal flyweight governor system that would make use of an air pressure differential to create an opposing force to ...
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2answers
131 views

Have there been any square 4U (2x2) cubesats?

How much did each MarCO 6U cubesat weigh? suggests that the density of a MarCO 6U cubesat might be as low as 0.75 g/cm^3 whereas I think they are usually about twice that. That led me to speculate ...
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How much did each MarCO 6U cubesat weigh?

Yes the answer is zero now because they are weightless, but I used past tense. In any event, let's try to find a good, reliable source for each spacecraft's mass and whether that number is dry or ...
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Essential sensors for cubesat ADCS

We are building a 3U satellite to orbit Earth and measure space debris. Between gyroscope, GPS, IMU, magnetometer, Sun sensors and star tracker, which would be essential sensors for the ADCS? Or ...
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1answer
300 views

Why do Ingenuity's legs differ?

In the pictures below, I notice that not all of the legs of Ingenuity are the same (look at the end of them, directly touching the surface). It looks like a single one is different than the other 3. ...
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1answer
120 views

How to design heatshield bluntness?

How is the bluntness or curvature of a heat shield of a reentry spacecraft designed? If the answer depends on size and mass, consider a deep space sample return "mini capsule" 50 cm in ...
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1answer
165 views

Are there any uncrewed spacecraft that maintain(ed) an atmosphere?

In How do phonesats stay cool? I wonder if phonesats might have had "cabin pressure" to keep the phones from overheating since they are not designed for space. But now I'm just wondering if ...
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Why are stages not connected by the engine nozzle? Why are interstages used?

First, a clarification: I understand the aerodynamic reasons that interstages are used, and I understand that the shockwaves that would be generated without an interstage would wreck the rocket. My ...
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165 views

Why put chromium on the back side of this JPL-designed solar sail?

This 2013 JPL presentation Solar System Escape Architecture for Revolutionary Science March 2013 Conference NIAC Phase 1: 2012-2013 by PI: Jeff Nosanov Co-Is: Dr. Daniel Grebow, Dr. Brian Trease, John ...
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1answer
104 views

Could the kinetic energy in the Sun's solar wind power an ion propulsion system for an interplanetary spacecraft?

I am wondering if the kinetic energy of the Sun's solar wind could energize heavy ions to the point in which they would produce enough momentum to propel an interplanetary spacecraft. To help ...
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1answer
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What criteria influence launcher aspect ratio?

One factor when designing a launcher is the total $\Delta V$ required. For a given $\Delta V$, engineers can define the propellant quantity. From this quantity they can define the volume of the ...
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How will SpaceX's VisorSat work? How could a sunshade articulate to shade parts of Starlink satellite as it orbits the Earth?

CNET's Elon Musk wants SpaceX to launch the next generation of space telescopes says: The billionaire entrepreneur said that "VisorSat" satellites equipped with a sunshade to block ...
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1answer
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Balancing Perseverance Mars Rover; couldn't they just “move stuff around a little” rather than add 6+ kg of dead weight?

The NASA News item NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover Gets Balanced says: Just as an auto mechanic places small weights on a car tire's rim to bring it into balance, the Perseverance team analyzed the ...
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1answer
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How is Cryogenic fuel kept… Cryogenic in rockets [duplicate]

How is cryogenic fuel & oxidizer kept at cryogenic temperatures in rockets? I am mostly interested in the first stage of launch vehicles rather than something like a Centaur that keeps hydrolox ...
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1answer
102 views

rocket engine design

Do we need to preheat both the fuel e.g. LH2, and the oxidizer e.g. LOX, by running conduits around the nozzle? I presume both being cryogenic, preheating would be a must otherwise, engines will have ...
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(Possibly fictional) Can you locate this mysterious Project Orion design with NERVA engines as RCS?

Some years ago, I happened to see a drawing of a hypothetical Project Orion (the Nuclear Pulse Propulsion one) type spaceship, that had the notable (and highly questionable, IMO) feature of having a ...
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2answers
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Why were the openings of the LiOH canisters in Apollo different shapes in the first place?

Many of you probably know the famous "square peg in a round hole" situation on Apollo 13. All three astronauts were in the LM and there was a build up of CO2 from the astronauts exhaling. They had to ...
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1answer
146 views

Why does the Perseverance rover have such complicated shaped spokes in its wheels?

Phys.org's NASA's Perseverance Mars rover gets its wheels and air brakes has some interesting photos includes some nice photos and below I've included a cropped section of a photo of one of ...
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139 views

Bipropellant RCS systems: Do they go together with docking? Or with manned spaceflight?

In a recent discussion, I asked about using a certain bipropellant system for RCS thrusters (I was actually thinking about it as fuel for an MMU jetpack or the "scooter" commonly imagined in science ...
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146 views

Are black and white stripes any better than uniform gray for thermal control?

Q: What color is a spaceship? Several answers and comments on Why were Europe's first few satellites so stylish? Why the pronounced alternating white and black stripes? contain phrases like "...
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What is the load path for thrust in a rocket engine? [duplicate]

This may be a duplicate of this question but I wasn't sure if I could hijack that one to clarify or regenerate interest there. What is the distribution of axial force in a combustion chamber? My ...
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1answer
271 views

What are common rocket fuselage designs?

I am wondering about the basic design considerations when building a rocket body. is it made as a separate hollow cylinder with standalone tanks inserted inside? is it made so that the tank walls are ...
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What is the limit to which we can scale up uniformly in all directions Space Shuttle SRB before it becomes unable to take off?

Let's say we like the Space Shuttle design so much, we want to use it as a reference for our new rocket. But we want to build rocket which will be capable of launching larger payload into Earth's ...
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1answer
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Are few kilogram RTG's possible with similar mass-specific power to current designs?

This answer to Mass ratio of solar-electric versus radioisotope thermo-electric power for propulsion; beyond how many AU do RTGs win? estimates a crossover at about 4.3 AU, so a trip to the outer ...
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2answers
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Why were the Space Shuttle's main engines placed on the orbiter?

Since the main engines can't be used after external tank separation, what's the reason for having the engines on the orbiter rather than just building a third rocket on the stack instead of the ...
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1answer
288 views

Why do Soviet and Soviet-derived rockets hot-stage instead of using ullage motors?

I am only aware of one US rocket that used hot-staging for maintaining proper ullage during stage seperation--the Titan family. Otherwise, US rockets tend to use reaction control systems or small ...
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Why is the diameter of the boosters of some launch vehicles smaller than the diameter of their payload fairing?

Whilst watching yesterday's Starliner launch I've noticed how skinny that Centaur (3.1m) looks compared to the CST-100 (4.5m). Looking up the Atlas V I was amazed to find out that it has even larger (...
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4answers
337 views

Have there been any spacecraft designs with a bilaterally asymmetric cockpit?

One of the things that makes the Star Wars films so visually distinctive is the asymmetric spaceships, for example the Millennium Falcon below whose cockpit is located in the top right corner as ...
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0answers
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How does the SpaceX Dragon nosecone separate?

SpaceX's Dragon uses a nosecone to protect the docking port during ascent. The nosecone seems very large. 1/3 of the capsule's height large. And yet, it separates while the second stage engine is ...
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1answer
147 views

Mass ratio of solar-electric versus radioisotope thermo-electric power for propulsion; beyond how many AU do RTGs win?

Solar-electric propulsion has been used several times now in deep space missions. This question explores the scalability in comparison to Radioisotope thermoelectric generation or other nuclear-based ...
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1answer
169 views

Falcon 9 Type Rocket with Raptors

I've seen the question "Why don't SpaceX just use Raptors in the F9 now since their better" asked here and there, and I understand why it isn't possible to do that- they're not a drop-in replacement ...
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326 views

Why was the nose cone on the Space Shuttle's external tank pointy?

Inspired by comments under this answer to this question Just how pointy does a rocket's nosecone need to be? (see also Why are the nose cones of current spacecraft less pointy?) Why was the ...
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Is the mass of paint relevant in rocket design?

(Prompted by this answer): Do the designers of large rockets* (have to) take the mass of the exterior paint into account? If so, do we have examples of actual design changes/decisions based on this (...
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1answer
146 views

Does any US rocket, historical or current, besides those using LH2 as fuel apply thermal insulation for propellant?

Besides those using LH2 in a booster and/or sustainer stage, that is. EDIT: I should have made it clear that this applies to launch vehicles, not spacecrafts flying deep space mission. EDIT: OK, I ...
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Why is the relative axial position of oxidizer vs fuel tank inverted in the upper stages of most rockets?

In the first stages of most rockets, e.g. Atlas V, Delta IV and Falcon 9, the oxidizer tank is stacked on top of the fuel tank, with the usual explanation that such an arrangement gives the rocket a ...
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2answers
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Are large spin gravity spaceships practical considering strength of materials

Are spaceships using spin-gravity to simulate normal earth gravity on their inner surface practical considering materials available today (i.e., steel, carbon fibre, etc.)? Imagine the spaceship as ...
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1answer
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Are these sliding ullage bulkheads in the OTRAG rocket? How do they seal?

This answer to Were there any non-state organizations to organize space flight and colonizations in the second half of the 20th century? mentions OTRAG and links to Astronautix's OTRAG page. The ...
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1answer
134 views

What is “additional line load” [N/mm] for the Ariane 5 launch vehicle?

In the textbook Spacecraft Systems Engineering 4th ed. page 14, table 2.1 ("Acceleration values for the Ariane 5 launch vehicle") provides data on the loading of the Ariane 5 spacecraft. One of the ...
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2answers
2k views

Why aren't RCS openings an issue for spacecraft heat shields?

A spacecraft which needs to both maneuver and enter the atmosphere needs both a reaction control system and a thermal protection system (aka heat shield). As the heat shield needs to be on the outer ...
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2answers
250 views

How does Orbex save structural weight by using coaxial tanks?

British aerospace company Orbex is developing a small orbital rocket called Prime, which uses propane and liquid oxygen in two coaxial tanks. One key aspect of propane is that it remains liquid at ...

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