Questions tagged [design-alternative]

Questions about alternative designs the asker has thought of, such as "why was X built this way and not this way"

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What would be the challenges for a settlement immersed in liquid fluorocarbon on Mars?

Perfluorononane is a fluorocarbon with a density of 1.8 g/mL and a melting point of -16⁰ C. According to this paper it has a vapor pressure of about 0.7 kPa at 15⁰ C, so in regions with low altitude ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
257 views

If Starship works, how much would it cost to create a system of rotable space mirrors that reduces temperatures on earth by 1° C?

There are many proposed geoengineering solutions that could reduce temperatures on earth. Unfortunately, a lot of them have a mix of side effects and lock-in effects where the changes in temperature ...
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1 vote
1 answer
200 views

Could pressurized ionized oxygen be used as a fuel source for an ion thruster?

I am wondering if a canister of pressurized oxygen could be used as a fuel source for an ion thruster. To show how this could work on a conceptual basis, please reference the following drawing: I ...
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14 votes
2 answers
1k views

Could one actually make a grain silo rocket?

Watching the recent SpaceX Starship tests got me to thinking: Could you actually make a rocket using grain as the propellant? Image from https://www.teslarati.com/spacex-starship-sn5-second-hop-plans/...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Could pressurized steam be an effective propellant for satellites?

If you had a small pressure vessel and a matte black external boiler that could utilize the heat of the sun, would pressurized steam be feasible for maneuvering a small satellite?
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2 votes
1 answer
223 views

Challenges that "missile mail" would have to overcome? (Aerophilately)

Mail delivery by missiles has been attempted but never really took off. I have read of some who made attempts to build a postal missile system, such as Stephen Smith of India, but I wonder about the ...
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4 votes
1 answer
168 views

Semi-feasible alternates to silicon electronics for a Von Neumann Probe?

Disclaimer: this is a modified cross-post of my post on the Worldbuilding SE site, adapted to better fit the Space Exploration community. Some background A Von Neumann Probe (VNP) is a sci-fi probe ...
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23 votes
3 answers
5k views

Why isn't SpaceX constructing the Super Heavy launch mount on top of the water?

With SpaceX creating their launch facility in Boca Chica Texas, right next to the water, why would they bother building a huge launch pad to withstand the blast, as opposed to building it on top of ...
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2 votes
0 answers
161 views

Mining Venus' surface using lasers?

One of the issues with colonizing Venus is the harsh conditions at the surface. People have proposed using floating habitats in the upper atmosphere, where conditions are milder, and gathering ...
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4 votes
2 answers
177 views

Capturing Hydrogen from the solar wind for Space Colony / Terraforming

Could we capture hydrogen from the solar wind instead of importing it or getting it from local sources ie water on mars or the lunar ice? Would it be worth the time vs energy used to get it? Basically ...
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1 vote
1 answer
89 views

Plasma magnet drive for reusing stages

From what I understand, one of the reasons why it's impractical to recover upper stages of rockets is that they're traveling at high speeds, and methods of making them bleed off that speed (such as ...
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1 vote
2 answers
121 views

Create something for the module when it lands into the ocean to drive it to shore

Food for thought: SpaceX has designed its new aircraft. Why doesn’t their team, develop some thing that will allow the astronauts to drive the module back to shore?
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5 votes
1 answer
150 views

Water ice as dummy/filler payload to orbit

When I'm rich, and my reusable orbital launch program is well under way, I will be performing many orbital test-launches and paid satellite deployments. Once I've knocked out the bugs and optimized my ...
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5 votes
0 answers
69 views

"Hybrid" statite design for a Dyson bubble?

One proposed design for a Dyson sphere is the Dyson bubble, which consists of statites (satellites that use light pressure to counteract gravity). In this design, the statites remain stationary ...
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2 votes
1 answer
191 views

What would be the most viable way to have constant communication with a Mars base?

I am currently working on a project involving designing a Mars base, and a major factor is establishing constant communication between Earth and the Mars ground base. I am thinking of utilizing laser ...
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5 votes
4 answers
2k views

Could a steam engine work on the moon? [closed]

Recently, there was a thread on Hacker News about building a nuclear power plant on the moon. Humans being what they are, I could imagine some dark outcomes. Instead could we build a steam engine on ...
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4 votes
7 answers
4k views

Would it have been cheaper and/or faster to put a James Webb-like Space Telescope on a balloon instead of a rocket?

I've just noticed the following items: CNET: NASA to send stadium-size balloon skyward to study the cosmos JPL/NASA News: NASA Mission Will Study the Cosmos With a Stratospheric Balloon Even in 2020 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
122 views

Rocket staging by use of strap on Boosters

Will it be advantageous to have multiple (say-3) stages of a rocket, arranged in a "strap-on" type SRBs' assembly, geometrically well distributed around the circumference w.r.t. their ...
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4 votes
2 answers
119 views

Ramscoop for a space station or lunar base?

From what I've read, the Bussard ramscoop has problems which make it impractical as a means of propulsion. However, would it be possible to use it for a different purpose? Could a space station or ...
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-3 votes
3 answers
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Using Venus' Atmosphere to Cool the Earth [closed]

The Starfish Prime nuclear test on July 9, 1962 caused massive fluctuations and degradation of the Earth's magnetic field. This field is largely responsible for redirecting the Sun's solar radiation. ...
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0 votes
0 answers
64 views

How is it possible to reduce the weight of a high-energy laser?

To provide some context.. I have designed an interstellar spacecraft called Solar One. It employs a combination of 3 propulsion methods: nuclear fusion, beam-powered propulsion , and photon propulsion....
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3 votes
0 answers
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Would rotating detonation rocket engines always require high pressure fuel pumps? [duplicate]

The question Performance of a pumpless liquid rocket engine is thoughtful and provocative and pretty much all answers include a mention of the extremely high pressure necessary to push propellants ...
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5 votes
1 answer
413 views

How much does launch costs have to come down to make chemical fuel deep space probes feasible?

Considering that NASA have been running short of plutonium for their RTGs, it makes sense to consider alternatives. For the inner solar system up to Jupiter, solar cells have been demonstrated on ...
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24 votes
9 answers
10k views

If someone built a vacuum tunnel through the atmosphere, could you have an orbit with a sea level perigee?

This is something I've been thinking about for a while now. My initial estimates for the structure were based on people's estimates for an O'Neil cylinder, but assuming you can make the structure a ...
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18 votes
6 answers
4k views

Would a higher air pressure on the ISS or elsewhere make it easier to "swim" in microgravity?

What if the atmospheric pressure onboard the ISS was 5 atm, 5 times the pressure on Earth and currently on the ISS, while maintaining the breathable oxygen level, e.g. if the additional atmosphere ...
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5 votes
1 answer
569 views

What was the point of the Redstone rocket when there was the X-15 rocketplane?

Just a curiousity question, so don't get me wrong for I very much admire and have high respect towards the entire Mercury project, Alan Shepard (the first American in space, a national hero) and Gus ...
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4 votes
1 answer
485 views

Could the Dream Chaser or Space Shuttle fly/have flown to the Moon with boosters on the orbiter's side?

In the 1998 movie Armageddon the crews use Space Shuttles which have boosters also on the orbiters' sides (two boosters per orbiter) in order to get to the Moon and to the asteroid. Upon descent onto ...
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0 votes
3 answers
202 views

Prior to putting spacecraft on a trajectory going a significant fraction of the speed of light, would some things need to be tested on Earth?

Except for particle accelerators, I don't think we have made any macro object go anywhere near the speeds planned for spacecraft like the one planned in Project Orion. But would there be something ...
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2 votes
1 answer
300 views

Would the Yarkovsky effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun?

Previously I'd mistakenly asked Would the Poynting–Robertson effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun? when I'd meant to ask about the Yarkovsky effect which can be much ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
79 views

stage 2 possible hollow cylinder design

I was watching this video from Everyday Astronaut: In the video, it highlights why Stage 2 landing is considerably more difficult than stage 1 landing. There is a 1:...
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6 votes
2 answers
759 views

What are the challenges in recovering Falcon 9's second stage this way?

The Falcon 9's second stage is currently disposed of each flight. I know there have been some concepts by SpaceX on making it reusable, but evidently they have not yet done so. From my understanding, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
156 views

Have engineers designed a docking procedure that uses a boom/pole that “catches” the target and pulls itself in?

Watching Dragon/Endeavour dock with the ISS, I was curious as to how they used thrusters to orient the spacecraft and “soft dock” with the ISS. The narrators didn’t mention what happened after the ...
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3 votes
0 answers
155 views

Why is the Fuji capsule design philosophy not seen in other proposals?

Fuji is my favorite unflown dead spacecraft proposal (narrowly beating out Dynasoar). I am well aware of why Fuji has its weird/unique design, but what I'm curious about is why it's unique. In my ...
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3 votes
1 answer
193 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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8 votes
1 answer
264 views

Is methylsilane CH6Si ever considered as fuel in rocketary?

Methylsilane CH6Si seems to have some useful properties for rocket fuel: High hydrogen content, 6 atoms per molecule, 13% of overall mass, High combustion energy, -2612KJ/mol or 56.8 MJ/kg (better ...
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-2 votes
3 answers
160 views

Would the trajectory of a comet be altered by attaching a parachute to it?

I am curious to know if the trajectory of a comet that is on a collision course for Earth could be altered by simply attaching a parachute to it. The parachute interacting with the comet's tail should ...
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2 votes
2 answers
206 views

Using heated water as propellant for a DT-He3 fusion thruster

Not sure if this would be best placed here or in World building SE, but I'll try here. Let's say I have a Dueterium-Helium 3 fusion pulse engine (similar to what is in the Expanse) that will use ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Would the Poynting–Robertson effect ever be faster than a solar sail from a 1 AU orbit to the Sun?

In this answer to Do you need 0 km/s velocity to crash into the sun? I mention solar sails for retrograde thrust and the Poynting–Robertson as two ways an object could ever-so-slowly spiral into the ...
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  • 148k
4 votes
0 answers
93 views

Cooling an aerospike spike via "fuel diversion"?

My question is, could an aerospike be cooled via diverting a very small quantity of your fuel (fuel used since it has a higher heat capacity than oxidizer and won't, you know, turn your engine into an ...
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7 votes
6 answers
1k views

Could moon ice be used to fuel a steam powered jetpack for EVA in space or high altitude exploration on the moon?

For long term moon operations, would it be practical to have a jetpack that used steam as a source for EVA on the moon surface and above it in orbit? I imagine a scenario where lunar ice deposits ...
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1 vote
1 answer
137 views

Would an incandescent light bulb be more efficient than a laser for photon propulsion?

In an incandescent light bulb pretty much almost all of the input power is radiated as photons. While perhaps 10% of the power is useful for human vision and the rest are longer wavelengths, it's all ...
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2 votes
1 answer
147 views

Could a carbon arc lamp help to propel a spacecraft through interstellar space?

I would like to know, on a theoretical basis, if the electron flow entering into the anode of a carbon arc lamp would impart enough kinetic energy to the anode, and thus to the spacecraft, to help ...
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3 votes
1 answer
205 views

How do you calculate the percentage of light-speed a ship with a certain delta-v can achieve, accounting for relativistic effects?

I was doing some back-of-a-postage-stamp calculations on high-isp interstellar spacecraft earlier and realised something. If I design a spaceship which according to the rocket equation has a very high ...
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5 votes
1 answer
179 views

Proposed spacecraft propulsion with particle accelerator

With the new particle acceleration technology of plasma accelerator, electrons or protons can be accelerated to relativistic speed in a device much smaller than current Linac (According to wikipedia, ...
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3 votes
1 answer
192 views

Can a strong magnetic field be used to propel a spacecraft towards Mars and outer planets in Solar system?

Sun is bombarding us with ionized particles and these particles are moving towards outer planets. During solar flares this effect is intensified greatly. If we are able to create very strong magnetic ...
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1 vote
3 answers
566 views

Could a horseshoe magnet help a satellite stay in orbit?

If a horseshoe magnet was attached to a satellite orbiting the Earth, would the interaction of the Earth's magnetic field and the horseshoe magnet's magnetic field result in the magnet being propelled ...
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10 votes
1 answer
770 views

What's the final word; does the EmDrive drive work or not?

I'd like to know the final verdict on the EmDrive (or EM Drive); does it work or not? Some say yes, others say no, some say the measured effect was not propulsion, but just the energy radiated by the ...
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6 votes
1 answer
327 views

Is there some fundamental limitation that would prevent steam-powered rockets from reaching space?

According to the Discovery Channel (see CNN article below) the latest attempt to use compressed steam propulsion to get to 5000 feet ended in tragedy. It's not yet clear the altitude it reached, ...
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  • 148k
3 votes
1 answer
207 views

Would a small electron microscope in a cubesat work well in space at 400 km?

There is now an electron microscope in space! Suppose that once I win a lottery I can build a small, modest SEM column and put it in a 6U cubesat that opens one side to allow the electron optics to ...
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  • 148k
2 votes
1 answer
170 views

Thrust value for a metallic hydrogen rocket-propelled spacecraft traveling on brachistochrone trajectories?

Using the attached nomogram for computing brachistochrone trajectories to other bodies throughout our solar system, I am working with the assumption that this spacecraft travels with a constant ...
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