Questions tagged [design]

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

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How to design a spacecraft attitude control system? [closed]

I have knowledge about basic control systems, mathematical modelling and deriving state space and transfer functions. I'm a part of a team designing a small satellite. Control will be achieved using ...
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423 views

Was there a Moon landing mission that the astronauts had to land by hand? [closed]

I remembered that I once read an article about the design of the controller, but now I can't google it out. In short, it talked about the control panel of one Moon landing mission was full of ...
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SpaceX CRS-7 failure because of a bad strut — is it a sign of bad structural design?

In June 2015, SpaceX's mission CRS-7 on Falcon 9 was lost when the rocket exploded on takeoff. SpaceX investigation concluded that the problem was a failure of a single defective strut. The strut's ...
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4answers
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Do the propellant tanks of actual (not planned) expendable vehicles' upper stages have relief valves?

This question was inspired by the answer to this question. The answer, in part, states that overpressurization of propellant tanks is a cause of upper stage explosions, leading to orbital debris. ...
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6answers
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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 ...
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1answer
765 views

What's the nature of hoop stresses on a rocket nozzle?

On a rocket nozzle, are the stresses (namely hoop stresses) from pressure differentials compressive or tensile? Obviously, in a combustion chamber, the pressure inside is greater than outside. As ...
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600 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 ...
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2answers
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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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What CAD system do the ISS designers use?

What CAD software (Autocad, CATIA, Solid Edge etc.) is the ISS designed using? Or has this changed over time / modules? With such careful mating of components needed in very constrained environments ...
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1answer
271 views

Is the document “Space Shuttle Baseline Reference Missions” available anywhere?

The document JSC-07896 'Space Shuttle Baseline Reference Missions' would be an invaluable reference for anyone seeking to understand why the US Space Transportation System was designed the way it was. ...
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Why is there so much variation in the number of engines on launchers?

There is much variation in the number of engines used in the liftoff stage of various launchers. Saturn V had 5 Space shuttles had 5 (3 main + 2 SRB) Falcon 9 has 9 Soyuz has 20 N1 had 30 Delta Heavy ...
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1answer
907 views

How did Energia Buran handle center of mass during flight?

The American STS Space Shuttle had the engines that provided a large portion of its thrust mounted directly on the shuttle itself. The Space Shuttle Main Engines (...
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1answer
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Were the ISS Solar Arrays manufactured as a set?

The solar arrays used on the ISS were launched in 4 different launches. Starting in 2000 for the first array, used on the Z-0 truss, to 2007, 2008, and 2009 for the final three. Are all 4 of them ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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How far can the supersonic parachute in the LDSD system for Mars be placed from the entry capsule?

In this interview on NASA Edge Ian Clark, principle investigator for the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator, talked about the environment the parachute part of the system has to operate in: ...
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1answer
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Modelling for the LDSD parachute - what are the issues with scale models and software simulations?

The LDSD1 parachute is too large to test in any current wind tunnel, the only test possible on the ground was the rocket sled test. In this NASA Edge episode (starting at 15:12), Ian Clark talked ...
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4answers
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Why are rockets cylindrical?

What are the drag coefficients for a cylinder, a wedge, etc? I know there are other reasons for a rocket to be cylindrical that aren't related to aerodynamics such as efficiency when mixing the ...
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Why is Falcon 9's shape so tall and skinny?

Compared to most rockets I know of, Space X's Falcon 9 seems unusually tall and skinny. The v1.1 version is nearly 70m tall, yet only 3.6m thick. For comparison, Atlas V is 58m tall and 3.8m thick, ...
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Why does the Soyuz spacecraft's parachute have so many lines?

Image shows a myriad of lines holding down the parachute. I can't even count them all. Is this really necessary? All those strings must surely add a lot of weight to the Soyuz TMA. I would think that ...
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Does the second stage of the Falcon 9 have RCS thrusters?

This video (a tour of the SpaceX factory by Elon Musk) suggests that the second stage of Falcon 9 has Draco thrusters as a Reaction Control System (RCS) (at 2:14), but I don't recall ever seeing them ...
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What are the common space application adhesives used in Earth orbiting satellites?

For quite some time, I am reading about space adhesives. Selecting the right adhesive for space applications is extremely important, mainly due to the high vacuum (around 10-8 Torr), and the variation ...
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Why were Space Shuttle astronauts able to walk off the orbiter?

I am watching loads of ISS related videos and there is one detail I recently noticed; At the time, when Space Shuttles were still in operation and visiting ISS, when astronauts returned home, they ...
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427 views

Can a SuperDraco engine help landing the SpaceX 1st stage?

I was thinking that placing RCS on the top of the rocket could help manouver it at low speed where the fins are useless. Than i read somewhere that cool gas propellant are not enough. But we know ...
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LEO constellation design

I am designing a LEO constellation (altitudes between 300-600 to be more specific) for a term project and i have some issues. My goal is to design a satellite constellation which takes images of a ...
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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 ...
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4answers
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Why does the Falcon 9 have 9 engines?

What are the reasons for using 9 engines in the first stage of the Falcon 9? Why not 8 or 10? Looking at the Raptor engine, they seem to be looking at 9 engines again. Is there some specific advantage ...
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1answer
534 views

Overheating problem in a nano-satellite due to proximity of system components

I am working in a team designing a nano-satellite for a remote sensing mission. I am a computer engineering student so I am not really familiar with space stuff. The problem is that we have been told ...
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What is the ideal shape for a rocket?

Obviously there are many factors that go into the design of a rocket. However, to me, many rockets seem very tall and skinny. What I mean is that an ideal rocket would have as little mass used for ...
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1answer
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Choosing thickness of a Whipple shield

What are the calculations involved in choosing the thickness of a micrometeoroid shield during the tradeoff study phase? Where can I find publicly available data on the distribution of micrometeoroid ...
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1answer
479 views

MCC21 FCR Display Closeup or Hi-res

I've been looking for close up or hi-res photos of the newer displays of the MCC21 (Mission Control Center - 21st Century) FCR (Flight Control Room), where the text is legible. I haven't found any on ...
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1answer
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Could Orion capsules be reused?

While watching this video animation of Orion EFT-1, a question occurred to me. Previous capsules (Apollo, Gemini, Mercury) were used once and then relegated to museums (apart from a few test flight ...
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1answer
157 views

How can interplanetary probes be miniaturized (mass minimized)?

Compared with the interplanetary probes of the last decades, how can the next generation in the next decades be miniaturized? Not really meaning small in size, but low in mass. The purpose would be to ...
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524 views

Could an upcoming comet lander be designed to cope with a greater variety of terrain types, compared to Philae?

All I could think about while looking at the designs for Philae (besides how courageous and ambitious the mission was) was that Philae itself looks like it was designed for landing on a known surface. ...
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1answer
156 views

Why does the WhiteKnight2 of Virgin Galactic have so large fuselages?

Since the White Knight Two doesn't transport passengers or cargo, why does it even have a fuselage? Wouldn't a purely wing shaped aircraft be better? Is it simply more convenient to use an existing ...
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1answer
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How are self-destructs implemented in rocketry?

Many rocket systems are equipped with self-destructs to prevent an out-of-control vehicle from wandering too far from its intended path and becoming a hazard. Presumably, the objective is to kill the ...
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Would a mass driver that uses a cushion of air to suspend its capsule be more efficient?

The Hyperloop is like a mass driver - magnetically accelerate a capsule in an evacuated tube. But it uses air bearings and linear induction motors, unlike other designs. Considering SpaceX's CEO Elon ...
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683 views

How big can solar sails be?

If you really, really, don't care about getting from one place in space to another quickly, a solar sail can be a good option. A solar sail is light (no pun intended) and requires no onboard fuel. At ...
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Realistic space battle, how it could looke like? No hollywood version or videogames like [closed]

I am about to program space exploration simulation game in the future, but I need to consider many factors. I would like to be as much realistic as possible, but keeping the game playable as well and ...
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1answer
524 views

How are rocket belt nozzle dimensions calculated for a specific thrust tube diameter?

I have been flying rocketbelts for 21yrs. I have a new rocketbelt(some call jetpacks); a copy of the Bell rocketbelt. I believe that the angles are incorrect and the throat opening is too large. My ...
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3answers
802 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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1answer
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Is the streamlining of a launch vehicle worth the additional fuel required to carry it beyond the Karman line?

Wikipedia writes to say Low Earth Orbit spans the altitude from 160KM above Earth through 2000KM above Earth. Launch vehicles appear to be highly stream-lined. Yet only the first few score KM (as far ...
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Could 3D printing be used to achieve perfect grain geometry of solid and hybrid rocket motors?

Solid cores, either for solid-fueled of hybrid rocket motors, use various propellant grain geometries to achieve thrust curve needed. For example, some of these could look like:    &...
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What is the intent of attaching legs to the rocket?

SpaceX Adds Landing Legs to Falcon 9 Rocket for Next Launch Still thinking why they added legs to the rocket's first stage? What are the advantages of attaching the legs to the rocket? Does that ...
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1answer
842 views

Are the power systems on the US and Russian segments of the ISS similar/compatible?

Clearly there is some method of power transfer between the US Segment with the honking big arrays, to the Russian segment. But since the Russian segment is basically Mir 2 (Zvezda, and an FGB tug ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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1answer
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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 ...
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Why was the Shuttle's LOX tank on top of the LH2 tank, since that makes it more top-heavy?

The external tank for the shuttle contained tanks of liquid Oxygen and Hydrogen for the main engines to use. These two have similar (though not equal) volumes, but the Oxygen is heavier in an obvious ...
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Maintaining ideal curvature (flatness) of a solar sail

If a solar sail is to be of any use, it needs to be a rigid structure and maintain its ideal curvature and orientation, otherwise it would eventually fold-up over its center of mass like an umbrella ...
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What influenced the shape of the Soyuz descent module?

The original Vostok and Voshkod space vehicles were mostly spherical shapes. The Americans went with vaguely conical/capsule shapes. But Soyuz from the beginning has had a sort of gumdrop shape for ...