Questions tagged [engineering]

Questions regarding the design or process of design of a spacecraft.

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What is the largest number of rocket engines ever successfully used on a single craft as of 2022?

A fully stacked Starship was rolled to the pad this week for testing. The byline caught my eye, though (emphasis mine) SpaceX moves a massive rocket with 33 engines to its launch pad for tests No ...
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Would a ring system for the Earth be a net benefit in terms of climate change? Is an artificial ring feasible? [closed]

The greenhouse effect as I understand it is because sunlight hits the Earth, and is re-radiated as infrared heat, which is then trapped by greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, like CO2 and Methane. So ...
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9 votes
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How much energy is lost by damping yaw from a SpinLaunch?

SpinLaunch hopes to launch a 200 kg satellite from a ground-based centrifuge, at 5000 mph, and more troublingly, at 450 rpm aka 7 tumbles per second. (The 3000 rpm figure mentioned in its tech sheets ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why do "Relativistic Light Sails Need to Billow"?

The University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Science blogpost How to Design a Sail that Won’t Tear or Melt on an Interstellar Voyage links to two new Nano Letters papers: Matthew ...
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Would a system of geosynchronous magnetic field satelites around Mars protect it from solar wind?

My entire life I've been obsessed with space travel, for the passed few years I've liked the idea of terraforming. I've learned a lot lately and i think I'm ready to begin research for some ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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What systems onboard the JWST are redundant and which are not?

Examining the capabilities of the JWST I figured that a lot of systems, e.g. the rotation wheels are redundant in order to avoid/reduce risks of failure. Right now as I write this the Gimbaled Antenna ...
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Why don't robotic spacecraft have "general purpose" companions?

TL;DR: Why don't we have minion bots with WD-40 and duct tape, alongside every robotic mission? I am a software engineer, but I also enjoy and am good with using manual or power tools. Therefore I ...
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2 votes
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What would have to be done to Perseverance's twin rover Optimism to make it capable of a limited Mars roving mission?

A comment under If the James Web Space Telescope goes up in smoke, is there a backup? mentions that the Perseverance rover has a twin and supports that with a link. I looked, expecting to see some ...
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7 votes
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A few question about aerospace engineering from a high school student [closed]

I am a high school student who has an intention to study Aerospace Engineering in college. Does a degree in Aerospace Engineering open up a lot of career opportunities in the foreseeable future? ...
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1 vote
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What does it take to be an Astrodynamics Engineer?

Astrodynamics is really complicated and requires some incredible intuition for not just physics, but math and programming. Most job descriptions for Astrodynamics Engineer say something about a degree ...
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4 votes
1 answer
279 views

How can I become an astronaut?

For EU citizens to envisage a career in space, as an astronaut, the following ESA handbook gives details about the selection process. Similar information for US citizens can be found at this NASA site ...
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If money weren't an issue, what's the best way to get maximum mass to LEO in 1 year? 5 years? 10? [closed]

I can kick this over to World Building if it's more appropriate, but I was hoping to get an actual technical examination of this. So here's the question: if money were not an issue and for some reason ...
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Technical feasibility of using Raptor engines for Vulcan rocket

According to a recent GAO report (p. 116), ULA's Vulcan rocket's BE-4 engines are "experiencing technical challenges" and there is some concern whether they will be ready / certified in time ...
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24 votes
3 answers
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How realistic is the 1 kg/km² solar sail in "Death's End"?

(This question has been migrated from the SciFi StackExchange.) From Cixin Liu's 2010 sci-fi novel Death's End (pages 68–69): "A radiation sail can be made very thin and light. Based on the ...
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3 votes
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What are the advantages and disadvantages of certain radial symmetries in spacecraft construction?

I'm mainly considering the merits and drawbacks of threefold versus fourfold (or higher, like sixfold and eightfold) radial symmetries when it comes to the construction of a fuselage for a spacecraft ...
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Why are propellant tanks filled from the bottom?

It seems that the norm is to (fast-) fill fuel and oxidiser tanks from the bottom. For example, on this drawing of the Saturn S-IC stage you can see the LOX and RP-1 fill valves at the bottom of the ...
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Did or do space station engineers need to worry about angular momentum stored in circulating fluids?

One of the ISS' main uses is to provide a long duration microgravity environment for a wide variety of experiments. For some experiments residual acceleration needs to be much smaller than average. ...
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Pressurant gas line design considerations

I am trying to understand the constraints on pressurant gas line sizes and lengths. For a static volume, the lines can be small in diameter because there is no significant flow velocity and therefore ...
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5 votes
2 answers
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Have solid dish antennas on deep space spacecraft (as opposed to meshes) ever provided any other helpful function? As meteor shields perhaps?

This answer to Which deep space spacecraft had main dish antennas that were perforated or made from mesh? tells the tale: Galileo's troubled high gain antenna was made from "a gold-plated ...
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Since Vesta is rotating, could you dig a habitat into it near the poles?

Would building a crescent shaped habitat work if you didn't want to go all the way? Edit: I'm asking if this would be enough to provide artificial gravity, sorry not not being clear about it.
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What do large, modern communications satellites look like inside (roughly at least)?

Modern communications satellite in GEO are big, majestic beasts. They are quite large and voluminous. They can sport quite an array of antennas and handle huge bandwidths and multiple communications ...
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1 answer
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Is it possible to launch a rocket with steam by using a fission reactor?

The idea is to use a fission reactor to turn water into steam pumping it outside the reaction chamber through heat pipes.
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2 answers
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Which explode in spaceflight more often, nuts or bolts?

The history of spaceflight is littered with exists because of exploded nuts and bolts (and upon further reflection, a whole lot of other items!) "Exploding bolts" is really a generic term. ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Why have we not seen spin gravity testing in space? Artificial gravity created through centrifugal/centripetal force [duplicate]

Why have I not seen any spin gravity testing in space? Or, more accurately, artificial gravity created through centrifugal/centripetal force. I haven't heard of any tests in standalone spacecraft or ...
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1 answer
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How heavy were Perseverance's balance masses?

Perseverance ejected two 70 kg "cruise balance masses" just before it became an airplane, to move its center of mass off axis and increase its angle of attack from 0° to about 16° to make it ...
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2 votes
2 answers
283 views

Can we engrave on the Moon by focusing laser from the Earth?

I would like to know if it is possible to make an engraving or burning moon's surface by focusing high energy laser beam from earth?
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What is your experience with using NASA's Core Flight System (cFS) in a subordinate system?

Has anyone used NASA's cFS on board a discrete system mounted on board an existing satellite/rover? What is your experience like? Have you encountered any difficulty forwarding TM/TC and managing ...
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14 votes
5 answers
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Which US Air Force career should I be in for the best chances at becoming some sort of electrical engineer at SpaceX? [closed]

I flunked in high school and early college because I wasn't in the right mindset. No drive or motivation to do my best. I now want to pursue SpaceX's vision because it's similar to my vision, and I ...
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5 votes
3 answers
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How do I get started in designing a rocket?

I am in the first year of high school and am trying my self at aerospace engineering,I just can't figure out a "checklist" for everything I need and how to design everything I need, it is a ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Small liquid rockets are hard/expensive to build, but what about to use them?

It's become a sad and oft-demoralizing truism that it's quite difficult and expensive to design or build even low-performance liquid-fueled rocket engines, and that amateurs -- even those with skills ...
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35 votes
8 answers
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What led NASA et al. to decide the ISS should be a zero-g station when the massive negative health and quality of life impacts of zero-g were known?

As the month of November 2020 has marked 2 decades of the ISS being operational as well as the first operational flight of a next-generation spacecraft to it, I felt it fit to ask this question today. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
662 views

Why is NASA sending wavy grousers to Mars?

In this answer to What are the lines on the wheels of the Perseverance rover called? Are they different than Curiosity's? and in sources linked therein we've learned that the lines across the business ...
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8 votes
1 answer
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Why is Electron painted in black?

Falcon 9 is painted white to avoid heating the liquid oxygen. Why is Electron not also painted white? Rocket color-related questions: Why parts of RocketLab's Electron become white before launch? ...
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15 votes
2 answers
3k views

How hot do rocket engine nozzles get?

What temperatures are encountered by the nozzles of rocket engines like those in SpaceX's Merlin series? Radiative or regenerative cooling, atmosphere or vacuum. There's plenty of info about exhaust ...
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3 votes
1 answer
148 views

What does the connector supports on the payload adapter do?

Good day, I am currently doing a project for university in which I have to redesign the connector support for the Payload Adapter (PLA 1194 VG) for the Vega(picture shown). I would like some ...
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Can Chemical Engineer work on something related to space?

I am an undergraduate student (scientific section) living in Qatar. I have a big interest in astronomy and astrophysics and have participated in the IOAA (International Olympiad on Astronomy and ...
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3 votes
3 answers
307 views

Working in the space industry with a Physics degree

What roles could a Physics major be employed in within the space industry? Systems Engineer or Technician? How rigorously do space companies adhere to engineering degree requirements in the job ...
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2 votes
1 answer
113 views

Demonstrating molten oxide electrolysis on the Moon, what would require the most power, keeping it molten or driving the electrolysis?

It seems that oxygen may be extractable from oxides in lunar regolith using "some variant of the" molten oxide electrolysis. Assuming that solar energy is used in a lunar setting, what would ...
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7 answers
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Why are all space initiatives designed to get to space overnight when in Nature all extreme feats are achieved in a gradual process

Is the current design paradigm of space engineers still too anti-naturalistic? Why not design Space Cruisers first large & slow but steady into outer orbit, over months rather than in a day? I ...
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-7 votes
1 answer
161 views

How did the first astronauts/kosmonauts in the 1940s/1950s *know* that the sky isn't actually a dome with "little dots" (stars)?

This may sound ridiculous, like a joke question, but I'm for real. I've been thinking a lot about things like this, but I always return to this question: Those early "space explorers" who ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Could a skyhook be used to change a satelites orbit from polar to equitorial?

Could this work if the skyhook also had ion engines to maintain its orbit or would the cable just snap?
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Book Recommendation on History of Spaceflight

I'm a CS/Engineering student at CalTech and I'm searching for a book that can help me better understand the history of spaceflight and the problems associated with getting humans to space. Since this ...
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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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3 votes
0 answers
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How is fuel measured in spacecraft? [duplicate]

On something like a gravity-bound automobile, fuel is measured with a float that moves a variable resistor but I would think this would not be possible on a rocket, one because of extreme G-forces ...
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why do larger and newer rockets not use electric pumps?

Rocketlab's Electron uses an electric pump combustion cycle with no preburner so all fuel is fed into the combustion chamber rather than wasted in a preburner/staged combustion-powered turbopump that ...
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2 votes
1 answer
150 views

How is fuel distributed in multi engine rocket stages?

How is fuel distributed evenly to multi-engine rockets like the Falcon 9, Electron, or multi-engined Centaurs? I would presume that there is only one main propellant line that goes down the raceway ...
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10 votes
2 answers
263 views

What is it about parachutes that makes people always want to "re-invent the wheel"?

For technology that involves complex engineering issues, standardization and specialization is extremely helpful. If I want to design a complex ASIC IC I don't design it from scratch, I just drag-and-...
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2 votes
0 answers
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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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3 votes
1 answer
209 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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1 vote
1 answer
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What calculations should I do to go from LEO to the moon with an ionic motor?

my question is, what calculations should I do to be able to go from LEO to the lunar orbit? If this were done, two of these thrusters would be used https://www.cubesatshop.com/product/ifm-nano-...
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