Questions tagged [design]

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

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12
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3answers
251 views

How big could a rocket get?

What are the practical limitations on the size of Earth based, orbital rockets? How tall/heavy might we make a rocket? For the purposes of this question, I'm mostly interested in rockets using ...
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1answer
105 views

How redundant are Orion's power and data units (PDUs)? Doubly? Quadruply? If so, why?

In the news today: NASA to skip repair of Orion electronics unit NASA will fly Orion deep-space crew capsule ‘as is,’ despite failed component; The agency claims there is enough redundancy in the ...
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4answers
602 views

Why do all recent proposed lunar landers have payloads on top?

Every recently-proposed vacuum lander I've seen has its payload as far off the ground as possible. This necessitates cranes, ladders, and elevators to get things down. (Starship may be a partial ...
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3answers
178 views

How to make a model rocket that doesn't spin?

I'm attempting to build a rocket with 8 fins (four on bottom and four smaller ones towards the top). The four fins near to the top will be attached to servo motors and programmed to stabilize or guide ...
7
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1answer
201 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 "...
3
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1answer
144 views

Docking cubesat in orbit - is it possible?

Would it be plausible to launch two or more cubsat's into orbit, and then have them dock together, allowing them to pack on more hardware and even fuel, broadening their capability? If it is possible, ...
5
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1answer
262 views

Are LiPo batteries more suitable for 1st stage electric power than Li-ion batteries?

I've just ran across two mentions in Scott Manley's videos of LiPo batteries (Lithium-polymer) in first stage launch applications. These involve power levels of megawatts. Why The Electron Rocket May ...
32
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7answers
15k views

Why are Rocket engines at the base of the rocket?

I don't know much about Rockets, but all that I have seen, from the Saturn V to SpaceX's Falcon 9 have the engine at the bottom. Doesn't this make the Rocket really unstable, like balancing a pencil ...
12
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3answers
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Origin of term “Block I”, “Block II”, etc

In NASA spacecraft development, subsequent versions of a design are referred to as "Block 1", "Block 2", etc. What is the origin of this naming convention? Why not just call them "Version 1", "...
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0answers
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How did SpaceX's VisorSat work? How did the 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 ...
13
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1answer
321 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 ...
2
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1answer
148 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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4answers
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Does the ISS have zenith-facing windows?

I was looking at the NASA image of the day today, and it made me wonder about the windows on the ISS. I often see pictures of Earth taken from the ISS, but I was wondering if they had any windows that ...
29
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9answers
5k views

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 ...
5
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2answers
176 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, ...
5
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1answer
202 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 ...
4
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2answers
144 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 ...
2
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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 ...
2
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1answer
69 views

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,...
4
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1answer
173 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 ...
7
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1answer
320 views

explain to a 6 year old the parts of a rocket

The curious 6 year-old sitting next to me asks "how do you build a rocket?" What kind of rocket? "A big rocket that flies". (He came by when I was answering a question and he was very excited when I ...
7
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1answer
459 views

How quickly might a Titan rover or drone get covered in oil and dirt? Will it need windshield-wipers?

These questions and their answers address some potential aspects of a rover on Saturn's moon Titan. Titan rover survival challenges What are the technical challenges in building a Titan rover that ...
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3answers
185 views

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 "...
19
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1answer
7k views

What materials are the windows on the US Segment of the ISS made out of?

Presumably the various windows on the different modules of the ISS are consistent on the different segments of the ISS. What are the windows on the US Segment made out of? Do they have special ...
13
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1answer
620 views

What are the windows on the Russian segement of the ISS made of?

Presumably the various windows on the different modules of the ISS are consistent on the different segments of the ISS. What are the windows on the Russian Segment made out of? Do they have special ...
5
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1answer
183 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 ...
44
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2answers
6k views

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 ...
2
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0answers
103 views

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 ...
6
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1answer
174 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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2answers
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Why Use Helium?

I apologize in advance if this question has already been asked and answered elsewhere, but why do RP-1/LOX rocket systems use helium for propellant tank pressurization? I understand the fact that O2 ...
24
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10answers
8k views

Can you really use Arduino for a small spacecraft?

A group of Russian geeks intends to shoot a small vehicle to the moon, which is supposed to photograph the places of the Apollo landings. This will be the ultimate proof that people actually visited ...
13
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1answer
304 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. ...
12
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3answers
821 views

Strategies for combating ESD and ground plane potential shifts on spacecraft charging?

What are some common design guidelines/practices to combat the electrical effects of spacecraft charging(e.g. ESD, ground plane shift). Is it to focus on more resilient parts, and reduce resistance/...
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0answers
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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 ...
2
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0answers
45 views

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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3answers
2k views

Why are RTGs different colors?

This is an image of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) for Cassini: This one was for one left on the Moon: And this one is for the Multi-Mission RTG, used by Curiosity on Mars: One is ...
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1answer
308 views

Generating power in zero-g

When generating electricity, energy is lost to friction in mechanical bearings (e.g. turbine or generator bearings) and as heat, through resistance in transmission wires. If you were generating ...
2
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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 ...
7
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5answers
1k views

What sort of analysis was performed before “modern” computing and the invention of finite element analysis and computational fluid dynamics?

I am not sure if this question is appropriate for this SE - Ideally this should be posted in Engineering SE but as far as I'm aware it does not exist! (I can only assume that the scope of engineering ...
4
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0answers
136 views

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 ...
9
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3answers
3k views

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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6answers
4k views

What are the criteria to put the oxygen tank above or below the fuel tank for a given stage of a rocket?

Inside a rocket, tanks are put one above the other. This make sense as it may be a good compromise between tanks shape and the aerodynamicity of the whole rocket. In some rocket stage, the oxygen tank ...
19
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2answers
2k views

What would the challenges be in developing a Falcon Heavy with three or four strap-on boosters?

Falcon Heavy has a standard Falcon 9 Full Thrust (FT) rocket core with two strap-on boosters derived from the Falcon 9 FT first stage. What about a heavier Falcon Heavy with four strap-on boosters (or ...
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2answers
184 views

How to waterproof a rover?

What changes would be needed to a late model rover to enable it to function under water? What would prevent a rover from functioning under water as is? related: https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/...
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2answers
3k views

What colors were used in the Apollo Lunar Module interior, and why?

There are lots of publications and blog posts on the exterior colors of the Apollo Lunar Module (a function of material choices), but I've struggled to find any information on the interior colors and ...
9
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5answers
11k views

What is the optimum shape for a spacecraft?

I understand that these days a spacecraft design is very much centred on what can be lifted into space by current rockets, hence the modular, cylindrical shape of the ISS. So, with current ...
10
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2answers
607 views

Why space probes are so different from each other?

Everytime I look at a space probe I see a whole different design and this puzzles me. I do understand that each mission is different and requires different science instruments. I also do understand ...
2
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1answer
203 views

Can Li-ion batteries replace parts of the physical structure of a spacecraft, such as the hull of a crewed spaceship?

Batteries contain metals with some structural rigidity themselves, and need encapsulation anyway. Could the batteries a spacecraft needs be used to build part of the physical structure, such as the ...
4
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1answer
217 views

What set of units does the Orion capsule cockpit instrumention use?

Shuttle was English, ISS is metric. What's Orion? For example: What units are inertial velocity displayed in?

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