Questions tagged [engineering]

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

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46
votes
8answers
12k views

What would be the (most difficult) challenge to make a “10,000 year satellite”?

Update: Bezos' recent Tweeted update on the 10,000 year clock. Also see The Verge's Construction begins on Jeff Bezos’ $42 million 10,000-year clock The discussions associated with the question Can ...
4
votes
3answers
501 views

Can a solar sail be added to an ion engine and work better?

Has there been a concept vehicle that uses both solar sails and ion engines? Does the added mass of each system increase or reduce the spacecrafts total delta V capabilities? Inspired by S.F. As S.F....
8
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4answers
29k views

Becoming an astronaut with engineering background

Which engineering branch will be most suitable for becoming an astronaut, and what other options do I have if I want to become an astronaut with an engineering background?
30
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1answer
3k views

Why do the Shuttle's external tanks appear to be rusted?

Wikipedia article states as STS-1 at liftoff. The External Tank was painted white for the first two Space Shuttle launches. From STS-3 on, it was left unpainted. I wonder why the ...
13
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4answers
7k views

How big would a manned ascent stage for Mars need to be?

For a manned mission to Mars that isn't a one-way trip, we'll need an ascent stage that can reach orbit from Mars' surface. How big would this need to be to transport e.g. 3 astronauts to orbit? We've ...
10
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3answers
698 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/...
12
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1answer
2k views

Why was the Hubble Space Telescope purged with nitrogen gas?

Wikipedia states that The telescope had to be kept in a clean room, powered up and purged with nitrogen, until a launch could be rescheduled. Spacecraft are always kept in a clean room ...
3
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0answers
248 views

Could multimode (polymer) optical fiber Gigabit Ethernet be a better choice than WiFi inside future satellites?

In this answer the recent question Are and should satellites use wireless communication internally, rather than cables? it is stated that: This is actually an open research area and despite ...
18
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2answers
3k views

Why do pressure fed engines have combustion instabilities?

Reading about the Sea Dragon idea, I came upon this argument against it, which sounds compelling, but relies on more detailed knowledge than I have: Those are to be pressure-fed to avoid "...
32
votes
1answer
6k views

How do manned spacecraft achieve an airtight connection while docking?

By another question I was reminded how hard it is to build airtight equipment such as vacuum chambers from multiple pieces. Docking or berthing space ships / space station modules is a rather similar ...
24
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1answer
2k views

How realistic would the Sea Dragon engine be to produce given today's technology?

Just learned of the Sea Dragon proposal from back in 1962. From the Wikipedia entry The first stage was to be powered by a single enormous 80,000,000 pounds-force (360 MN) thrust engine burning RP-...
4
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1answer
2k views

How to seal the connection between the combustion chamber and outer shell in this rocket engine model?

Here is rocket engine drawing. The combustion chamber made from copper and the outer shell from stainless steel. The coolant, either water or gasoline will be between With either pressurised water or ...
18
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3answers
3k views

How are fuel tanks filled with cryogenic hydrogen?

Cryogenic hydrogen can react with the atmospheric Oxygen to produce an explosion: as well as being cold enough to liquefy (and possibly solidify) atmospheric oxygen, which can be an explosion ...
15
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1answer
3k views

Why are Curiosity's wheels aluminum rather than titanium?

I was just reading this article on how Curiosity's aluminum wheels are getting pretty dinged up. Usually titanium alloy is considered an upgrade from aluminum alloys in most applications, from ...
14
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4answers
4k views

How feasible is it to harvest isotopes of Helium or Hydrogen from the gas giants?

The gas giants in our solar system have abundant quantities of Helium and Hydrogen. Is it possible to harvest these resources there? Does NASA have any plans to build some permanent base in space for ...
10
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1answer
6k views

What material properties would be necessary to shield a lander from the environment of the Venusian surface?

On March 1, 1982, the Venera 13 lander survived for 127 minutes in an environment with a temperature of 457 °C (855 °F) and a pressure of 89 Earth atmospheres (9.0 MPa). This says nothing of the ...
11
votes
1answer
658 views

Why does the YF-75D nozzle have such a strong spiral pattern?

Why does the YF-75D nozzle material have such a strong spiral pattern? Is it a result/biproduct of a manufacturing process only, or does it have some specific function? edit: The last, cropped ...
8
votes
1answer
891 views

Why are the nose cones of current spacecraft less pointy?

You would think that with the quest for aerodynamic efficiency in current spacecraft that the nose-cones at the pointy end of the launch-vehicle would have a sharp taper, more so for craft that aren't ...
4
votes
3answers
321 views

Is there a space-certification procedure used by commercial spacecraft manufactures for electronic components?

For electronic components at the level of say electrolytic capacitors, ethernet connectors connectors, and possibly in the future fiber optic connectors/electrical signal interfaces are there well ...
3
votes
1answer
134 views

What exactly are Tindallgrams? (spaceflight related)

The word "Tindallgram" appears in three posts: this answer to How complex was the math and physics necessary to place Apollo 11 on the moon? What is a “Lear Processor” and how did it work? this ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Transitioning into space software engineering

I have been a Web Developer in London since I graduated in 2012. My skills reside mainly in the Microsoft stack (MSSQL, .NET, C#, MVC and all the front-end stuff). I have always been very interested ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Troubleshooting a DIY Ion Thruster

Been following a Make-Magazine article on how to make your own ion thruster: https://makezine.com/projects/ionic-thruster/ Went through the tutorial step by step, not seeming to get any thrust out of ...
6
votes
1answer
918 views

How do the booms on ISS (and other spacecraft) extend and retract?

In an answer to my previous question, OrganicMarble posted a video: The booms like through the center of ISS solar panels are quite common in space use - supporting ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Is there a diagram of different nozzle diameters to scale?

I am looking for a diagram that shows the different diameters of various nozzle openings, including Rocketdyne's F1 (150 inches) SpaceX's Merlin (66 inches), the Air Force's Delta IV Heavy, and NPO ...
9
votes
1answer
714 views

Has any work been done on alternatives to rolling element bearings in rocket turbopumps?

Specifically: Using some high pressure gas (before or after combustion) as a fluid bearing. A superconducting maglev bearing, possibly using fuel as coolant. Any related work is also welcome.
5
votes
2answers
634 views

How does a thermal control system of a spacecraft basicaly work?

I'd like to know how a thermal control system of a spacecraft basically works. As the only possibility to get rid of the thermal heat is through radiation, I'd like to get a basic qualitative ...
3
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0answers
237 views

How long can it be reasonably expected to wait for the first flight of SpaceX's BFR? [closed]

Elon Musk has said that he's planning to launch two uncrewed BFR rockets to Mars by 2022. And of course there would be some test launches even before that. For such an enormous project, I don't see ...
19
votes
2answers
8k views

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 ...
8
votes
2answers
382 views

What are the practical engineering difficulties in building and launching large inflatable modules?

Currently there seem to be two efforts under way: Bigelow Aerospace RKK Energiya The latter source (an article in the Popular Mechanics by Anatoly Zak) intimates that structural creep is a major ...
5
votes
0answers
55 views

Are ferrofluidic seals used in spaceflight? Main applications? Human-rated?

Comments below this answer have inspired this quesiton. Wikipedia's Ferrofluidic seal sez: Ferrofluid-sealed feedthroughs routinely operate in environments including ultra-high vacuum (below 10⁻⁸ ...
3
votes
5answers
486 views

Are and should satellites use wireless communication internally, rather than cables?

Some applications on Earth replace wires with radio communication, standard stuff like Bluetooth. It saves mass and maybe complexity. Is this done for intra-satellite communication and deep space ...