Questions tagged [history]

Questions pertaining to the history of space exploration. Includes how current things will be viewed historically from the future (e.g. Apollo Moon landing sites 100 years from now)

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Were Mariner 3 and 4 the only spacecraft to use “solar paddles” to stabilize attitude?

This one sentence nearly link-only answer to What is the principle behind Mariner 4's “Solar Pressure Vanes”? In what case(s) would they be effective? and the discussion below explain that Mariner 4 (...
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What is the origin of the Lunar Module in the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL?

I recently had a chance to visit the US Space and Rocket Center. While I was there, I saw a lunar module. It is very clear that the ascent portion is a mock-up, but the decent portion looks real, ...
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Names of geographic features on moons or planets other than Earth found later to be controversial or provocative? Have any then been changed?

The names of places and geographic features (and even buildings) on Earth is an interesting topic; sometimes they are later changed after concerns are raised. And of course there is the deliberate ...
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Venera 13/14 Design specifications

Does anyone know where I could find design specifications, plan sets, or other documentation for the Venera 13 or Venera 14 spacecraft? These are Soviet spacecrafts from the 1980s. I suppose if ...
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What are the main challenges to boosting or driving smaller solar sails with a constellation of separate reflectors?

This is to continue expanding the idea of using smaller solar sails, but increasing the energy they receive from the Sun by having a constellation1 of satellites with mirrors + lenses. For context, I ...
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Is there an example of a classic space engineering moment where months of work had to be discarded due to the wrong approach?

Is there any classic aviation/space engineering moment where the engineers had been working on a concept for months and then realised that their approach to the problem wasn't quite right and so had ...
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Can “engine” and “motor” be used interchangeably in spaceflight? Are there any cases where they can't be?

Typing "rocket motor" into google returns a page full of links mostly about rocket engines. It seems that The Google has AI-synonymized them. Question: Can "engine" and "motor&...
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How well would Max Faget's April 1, 1969 design for the Space Shuttle have actually worked? What would have been the major problems?

This answer to Who are the actual lead designers of manned spacecraft? says (in its entirety): Max Faget was involved in the design of every US manned spacecraft flown to date. Mercury, Gemini, ...
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Need of the DoD for a heavy lift vehicle for “other” satellites

As mentioned in Saturn I history, the DoD wanted a launch vehicle to put A): 20,000 to 40,000 pounds (~9,100 to ~18,200 kg) into orbit, or B): accelerating 13,200 to 26,200 pounds (6,000 to 11,900 kg) ...
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Why do Canopus Star Trackers track Canopus? Why not so Sirius?

Jupiter is magnitude −2.94 to −1.66 and Sirius is −1.46 and Venus stays between -3.8 and -4.8, while Canopus is only −0.74. (more negative is brighter) Question: Other than their namesake, why do ...
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In their first 100 sols which NASA Mars rover drove the furthest and which one the least?

It seems we've passed the 100 day/sol mark for Perseverance. Perseverance and Curiosity are comparable in designs but have had significantly different short term goals; Curiosity was the first of it's ...
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Space missions that employed separate flight software development teams?

A recent question "Back up plan to use LOX-RP1 for Apollo mission" has an answer stating Another example is that some spacecraft have a backup flight software system written by a group of ...
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Why did each F-1 engine have dual fuel feedlines?

Each F-1 engine had two fuel feedlines connecting it to the fuel tank as shown in these contemporary photographs and drawings. The corresponding LOX system only had one feedline. The engine had a ...
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Most noodle-like (highest aspect ratio) orbital launch vehicle ever?

Just how much can tall skinny rockets bend? (roughly, safely) Why is Falcon 9's shape so tall and skinny? If not constrained by underpasses, etc., would Falcon 9 have been less of a flying noodle? ...
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How is Prospero doing now? Was it really heard in 2004 and have there been recent attempts to contact it?

Screenshot from the excellent historical review in Curious Droid video Black Arrow : The Lipstick Rocket - A Very British Space Program with a photo of Prospero or at least a representation thereof. ...
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Tracking stations that could have been used in 1967 & 1971 for the launches of the WRESAT & Prospero, X3 satellites from Australia

In relation to the question, How many satellites were orbited from Australia in total? In November 1967 and October 1971 the WRESAT and Prospero, X3 satellites were launched from Woomera, South ...
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How many satellites were orbited from Australia in total?

WRESAT; The first Australian Satellite Launched Wednesday November 29, 1967 on Colin Mackellar's Honeysuckle Creek website links to several other pages with various details and photos of the mission. ...
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Were photographs or optical measurements of orbital craft from the ground ever used during early crewed spaceflight missions?

The lengthy and interesting blogpost Baker-Nunn Camera, Island Lagoon on Colin Mackellar's Honeysuckle Creek website includes a photo of "Gemini 10 (with John Young and Mike Collins onboard) and ...
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Was liquid ozone + fluorine ever tested as an oxidizer? Ever with jet fuel?

Searching for ozone layer circa 1957 I got Theoretical Rocket Performance of JP-4 Fuel with Mixtures of Liquid Ozone and Fluorine, NACA RM E56K14, Issue 58, Volume 63, Vearl N. Huff, Sanford Gordon. ...
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Why did the Space Race end on the Moon?

Why did both the USA and the USSR decide to put a person on the Moon and then 'end' the space race, having 'won'? Why didn't the space race go on infinitely: who would fly the first astronauts to ...
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“Re-entry” vs “Reaction” in RCS

Reading through the Wikipedia (not known for being the bastion of all truth but usually a decent starting point) article for Gemini 8, I came across this passage (emphasis mine): The astronauts ...
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Was Fidel Castro ever in a Soviet spacecraft?

I was looking at a Roscosmos news item Russian monitoring tools track the stage of the rocket that launched the module of the Chinese station about the reentering Long March 5B This situation will ...
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Has sound ever been used to diagnose a problem not shown by other measurements?

In a video released by NASA here, showing Perseverance recording one of Ingenuity's flights, they have the quotes: Sound adds a new dimension to space exploration. and As a mechanic listens to a ...
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Does a photo with two Saturn V's on launch pad 39A and 39B exist?

There is a beautiful photo of two Space Shuttles on launch pads 39A and 39B. Apollo 10 was the only Saturn V launch from pad 39B. Were either Apollo 9 or Apollo 11 close enough in time to have two ...
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Were all three Mobile Launch Platforms ever in use simultaneously?

With an optimistic view on the future, NASA built a Vertical Assembly Building with four bays and three Mobile Launch Platforms. They were later repurposed for the Space Shuttle and other launch ...
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Why do we never see astronauts doing breaststroke or the “Man from Atlantis” swimming movements, say, and thus swimming in air in free fall?

Why do we never see astronauts and others swimming in air in free fall? The swimming strokes that work well under water on earth are the breast stroke and especially that "Man from Atlantis" ...
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What JPL laboratory is this exactly, and what are the functions of these amazing-looking control panels?

The (somewhat strangely named) video clip How William Shatner Changed the World - Dr. Marc D. Rayman, Chief Propulsion Engineer, NASA, JPL contains several shots of what looks like an ion propulsion ...
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Has anyone suggested using an electrically powered sling or centrifuge mass thrower as a form of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion?

Has anyone suggested using an electrically powered sling as a form of electric propulsion for a space craft? It might be a centrifuge type arrangement with a way to release part of or all of the ...
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Why did the Mir space station need someone to look after it at all times?

Why did the Mir space station need someone to look after it at all times? "But Krikalev and the other cosmonaut on board quickly decided that, for them, the option was off the table. The two had ...
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What is the safety record of launch vehicles per person-distance traveled, over all time?

Sometimes, the safety of various forms of transportation are compared based on the rate of fatalities (or injuries or other unplanned destructive accidents) per person-mile or person-kilometer ...
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Soyuz 11 - communication transcript

Are there any communication transcripts available of Soyuz 11 spaceflight? I am especially interested in the part where pressure equalisation valve was opened way too fast and the crew died due to ...
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Clustering of liquid fueled rocket engines

Which rocket first used clustering of liquid fueled rocket engines on their first stage?
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time trends in astronaut fatality rates?

A recent answer quoted the statistic that over 10% of astronauts have died on the job That got me wondering what the trend over time has been in mortality rate of astronauts, i.e. is space travel ...
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How much do the Voyagers' attitudes drift over time? How often are their thrusters used for attitude control?

@Hobbes' answer to Voyager 1's tape recorder and other angular momentum management issues says: There are no reaction wheels on Voyager [...] Voyager is not spin-stabilized. It used thrusters for ...
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How is the anniversary of Vostok 1 celebrated in the U.S. space community?

Sixty years ago, the first human spaceflight was celebrated in the Soviet Union as a great technical and historic victory. Americans at the time were concerned that the United States was losing the ...
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What's the lowest periapsis of a successful orbit around the Moon? [duplicate]

What's the lowest periapsis of a successful orbit around the Moon ever made by a moon-orbiting spacecraft? Theoretically, Moon-orbiters can go as low as a foot above the surface due to the lack of an ...
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Did astronaut Frank Borman really work at a petrol station after going to the moon?

I am listening to the book Rocket Men by Robert Kurson, and 22 minutes in to the epilogue, the author says the following: Weeks after the return of Apollo 8, Frank Borman went to work pumping gas at ...
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Why does the RD-0110 Injector have a larger cone spray angle in the outer element rather than the inner element?

Wouldn't a large cone spray angle in the inner element (oxidizer) impinge with the outer element spray cone (fuel) and facilitate better atomization and mixing? Here are the RD-0110 Injector specs:
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Why was Redstone Arsenal specifically chosen for post-war rocket development?

We have had questions on the origin of JSC, KSC, White Sands, and Wallops Island. Today is MSFC's turn. After World War II, many of the officials of the German rocket program -- including leader ...
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Has the ISS ever “flown upside down”? Has the cupola ever “looked up”?

For a spacecraft in low Earth orbit let's call the zenith direction (vector away from Earth) "up". For most of its life I think the ISS has orbited with it's "up side" pointed &...
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Are rocket self-destruct systems ever flight-tested/flight-proven?

Under the question SN11 was launched in fog. Why not wait for better conditions? I wrote the comment: armchair totally unsupported theory: the fog presented an opportunity to test the emergency self-...
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Origin, artist, and original purpose of this unusual NASA image from 1996 or earlier? (possibly related to Clementine)

Two astronomy questions below relate to Clementine and poking around I found Ice on the Bone Dry Moon which was Written by Paul D. Spudis, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX, Deputy Leader of ...
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First instance of a frangible nut in space? Which space-nut was first successfully “franged”?

Wikipedia's Frangible nut begins: Not to be confused with Explosive bolt. The frangible nut is a component used in many industries, but most commonly by NASA[citation needed], to sever mechanical ...
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Did Skylab have several giant spirit levels? That's what these look like to me, except there's no bubble

The BBC's Skylab: The myth of the mutiny in space shows the image below of one big circular end bulkhead of the main Skylab main space, with an astronaut in the center hatch and giant air manifolds ...
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Did Skylab astronauts really “go outside” to look at comet Kohoutek? If so, why?

Today in The BBC's Skylab: The myth of the mutiny in space it says: The Skylab space station was a research platform in orbit where astronauts helped scientists to study the human body's response to ...
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Has Hubble ever focused on something close enough that it had to move away from being focused at infinity?

Hubble wouldn't have to change focus for Pranksat to work because Pranksat is cleverly designed to present a virtual image with a focus at infinity. But if the diffraction-limited Hubble wanted to ...
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What secondary science payloads deployed from primary science payloads were strictly battery powered?

When is the last time that a battery-powered spacecraft was launched without an RTG or solar-electric power? had to be refined a few times because the use of battery-only power is much more widespread ...
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What was the first Soviet spacecraft that could recharge its battery it each orbit? Where were the photovoltaic cells made?

Sputnik 1 (/ˈspʌtnɪk, ˈspʊtnɪk/; "Satellite-1", or "PS-1", Простейший Спутник-1 or Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1, "Elementary Satellite 1") was the first artificial Earth ...
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When is the last time that a battery-powered spacecraft was launched without an RTG or solar-electric power?

Except for special sun-synchronous, Earth orbit eventually leads to eclipses, so spacecraft in Earth orbit generally have solar panels with electrical energy "buffered" by batteries. And ...
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Could the Soviets have gotten to the moon using multiple Soyuz rockets?

Saturn V's payload was 140 tons, about 20 times that of Soyuz. The Soviets did not have a functioning rocket with similar characteristics. But couldn't they launch 20 Soyuz rockets, assemble the ...

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