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Questions tagged [nasa]

Questions pertaining to activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a United States government agency that deals with space exploration and research.

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185
votes
6answers
17k views

Can I borrow a lunar rover?

According to Wikipedia there are 3 LRVs sitting on the moon, in very well defined locations. Would China, or whomever gets to the moon with a person next, be able to get in and drive around in an LRV ...
71
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7answers
14k views

Why is the American space program launch site based in Florida and not Texas?

In other words, why didn't NASA make their main space launch area in Texas? It has a point below the 30th parallel, which means that it is close enough to the equator. Why did NASA pick Florida?
58
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1answer
8k views

How was New Horizons able to direct data so precisely back to Earth?

The New Horizons space probe is sending back images of Ultima Thule, 6.4 billion kilometres away. Barring having a very large power to send information back on a very large angle, it seems to me ...
55
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3answers
17k views

Curiosity: Why did they “reinvent the wheel” instead of using pressure tires?

Curiosity rover's wheels seem a bit tired and show signs of wear and tear, as reported for example in this Discovery News article from May 22, 2013. This damage only increased since then and wheels ...
55
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3answers
15k views

How did NASA prevent third parties from spoofing Apollo communications?

The Apollo crews transmitted footage to Earth using SSTV, a ham radio technique that amateurs and pirates can use to send similar messages around the world. Did NASA have any technical ...
54
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3answers
20k views

This image of the Space Shuttle is truly beautiful, but is it real?

I saw this image in the Infobae article La NASA probará un paracaídas para posar naves espaciales en Marte ("NASA will test a parachute to place spaceships on Mars"). The image looks plausible to me, ...
52
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4answers
5k views

Why is the Shuttle Landing Facility runway surrounded by water?

The runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida has a unique feature that looks rather intentional: it is surrounded by "moats" or "canals". They certainly look man-made, so I presume this is ...
48
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2answers
17k views

Why don't the Space Shuttle's tires explode in the vacuum of space?

According to this NASA article the tires are inflated to 340 psi (main gear) and 300 psi (nose gear). At landing, there is significant strain, but what about in space? Are the tires exposed to vacuum ...
43
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4answers
10k views

Why does NASA publish all the results/data it gets?

I was curious about why NASA publishes all the results/data from its operations. Does the USA have a law that mandates it or is it a voluntary contribution to the world?
43
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3answers
8k views

Why did the Space Shuttle fly upside-down normally

After reading this answer I found out that the space shuttle normally spent its time upside-down. Why is that? I'd guess it has to do with shielding from the sun, but I can't back that up with ...
43
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2answers
4k views

What's the baseball bat for? (seen in CRS-8 berthing NASA TV broadcast)

Watching the CRS-8 Berthing live broadcast on NASA TV I noticed a baseball bat resting on top of a console in the front left part of the room, so I took some screenshots. Looking closer, it seems to ...
42
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3answers
14k views

Why did NASA use U.S customary units?

NASA was using U.S customary units (inches, feet, nautical miles, pounds, tons, US gallons etc.) during the Mercury and Apollo programmes, and beyond. There are significant disadvantages to using U.S ...
41
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4answers
10k views

During the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster of 2003, Why Did The Flight Director Say, “Lock the doors.”?

Why does the NASA Flight Director say, "Lock the doors.", when realizing that disaster had struck for Space Shuttle Columbia, back in 2003? Does he mean lock the doors on the space shuttle that's ...
40
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6answers
13k views

How can a Mars helicopter be autonomous if there isn't a Martian GPS?

For a drone to be autonomous, it needs something like a GPS to be able to navigate. If it doesn't have GPS, you'd have to manually control it. Do the orbiters provide something like GPS then? I ...
38
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4answers
6k views

Are there any space probes or landers which regained communication after being lost?

Recently, ISRO Vikram lander of Chandrayaan 2 lost its communication just before 2.1 km from lunar surface. ISRO staff still trying to regain the signals. Are there any space probes/landers which ...
37
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3answers
4k views

What would NASA have done if they knew Columbia was catastrophically damaged?

When the Columbia Shuttle broke apart in 2003, it was known after the launch that a piece of foam had fallen and hit the Shuttle. NASA apparently chose not to investigate it as well as they could have....
36
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3answers
54k views

What made NASA shut down the Shuttle program?

Recently NASA shut down its Space Shuttle program. Between the first launch on April 12, 1981, and the final landing on July 21, 2011, NASA's space shuttle fleet --Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, ...
36
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2answers
7k views

Did the Saturn V rocket have any purely aesthetic features that didn't serve an actual function?

The rocket itself is magnificent, yes, but with so many ins and outs to it, curious if the entire design was solely purpose built, or if there were features specifically for aesthetic purposes.
35
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5answers
11k views

Why is it hard to take a high quality image of far away objects (like Pluto) using a high-tech space telescope?

Why did NASA send a probe so close to Pluto instead of using a high-tech telescope to capture images of its surface? The Icy Mountains of Pluto. Image credit: New Horizons / Johns Hopkins Applied ...
35
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3answers
6k views

Why was it necessary to program InSight with an ability to land in dust storms?

If the entire event of EDL (Entry - Descent - Landing) is going to take only 7 minutes and if the command to begin could be signalled based on ground weather conditions, why was it necessary to take ...
33
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3answers
6k views

Could the museum Saturn V's be refitted for one more flight?

Even though we will not build new Saturn Vs, there currently exist three Saturn Vs in museums. Could any of these rockets be refitted for flight? If not, what specific component would prevent the ...
33
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2answers
4k views

Why don't 3-parachute descent systems collide and collapse?

The Orion reentry vehicle will have a parachute system. Like Apollo, they'll have 3:     Orion Parachute Drop Test on May 1, 2013 A model of NASA's Orion spacecraft glides ...
32
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2answers
8k views

Is it true that NASA is hiring a new 'planetary protection officer'?

NASA is hiring a new 'planetary protection officer' to defend Earth from alien matter, and the pay is a six-figure salary: as much as $187,000 a year. When we are not sure whether aliens exist, why ...
31
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8answers
12k views

How can I, a high school student in Bucharest, go on to become an ISS astronaut?

I study at a High School in Bucharest, and I want to know what kind of education or subjects I need so that I can work in an International Space Station and stay there for 6 months. In the high ...
31
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4answers
11k views

What constellation is on the NASA logo?

While watching the ORB3 Antares explosion press conference, I began to wonder about the design of the NASA logo. Do the white stars on the blue background represent some particular stellar pattern, ...
30
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6answers
10k views

Why didn't NASA use the shuttle to make a profit?

My understanding is the shuttle was designed as cost-effective workhorse, a space-van to ferry cargo up to the ISS, conduct zero-G experiments and put satellites into orbit. So why didn't NASA take ...
30
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5answers
7k views

Is there any evidence that NASA was worried about deep lunar dust?

It was once theorized that the moon might have deep oceans of dust, potentially a problem for any craft landing on its surface. I've heard that NASA was concerned about this possibility in the early ...
30
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1answer
3k views

Why did NASA set up a computing facility in Bermuda in the Mercury epoch?

I'm reading Hidden Figures, and I'm puzzled by an assertion Shetterly makes in a section describing the first few electronic computers installed at NASA, in the run-up to the Mercury project at around ...
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 ...
29
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5answers
17k views

Why does a rocket engine provide more thrust in a vacuum than in atmosphere?

According to NASA Each Space Shuttle Main Engine operates at a liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen mixture ratio of 6 to 1 to produce a sea level thrust of 179,097 kilograms (375,000 pounds) and ...
29
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1answer
4k views

What are these membranes at the aft end of the Shuttle that get torn off during lift off?

The link to the Space Shuttle launch video. At 1:30 mark, three circular disks get torn away. It happens immediately after the engine ignition begins. Here is a cropped image of the Discovery after ...
29
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1answer
4k views

Why were there beeps punctuating the voice communications during missions such as Apollo?

Voice communication between ground and spacecraft during missions such as Apollo seemed to be always punctuated by beeps. What was the origin of these beeps? Were they some sort of unavoidable ...
28
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4answers
3k views

What will be NASA's successor to the Saturn V rocket?

The Saturn V rockets were the "tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for heaviest payload launched and heaviest payload capacity to ...
26
votes
1answer
96k views

Did Neil Armstrong really say “Good Luck Mr. Gorsky” on the Moon?

I have heard, that upon standing on the moon, Neil Armstrong at some point said "Good luck Mr. Gorsky". The story being that while a child, playing baseball, through an open window he heard Mrs. ...
26
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2answers
2k views

What's the coin on the Curiosity rover?

The image above was taken from the Curiosity rover (I hope). There appears to be a coin in the image. Is that really a coin or some kind of button? Is it really present on the rover? If it is ...
24
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1answer
3k views

In this iconic lunar orbit rendezvous photo of John Houbolt, why do arrows #5 and #6 point the “wrong” way?

The NPR.org news item Meet John Houbolt: He Figured Out How To Go To The Moon, But Few Were Listening shows the iconic photo of John Houbolt next to a black board showing a free return scenario. I ...
23
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5answers
7k views

Why hasn't NASA planted a stationary lab on Mars yet?

Why does NASA send rovers such as Curiosity instead of remotely building a small building on the surface of Mars?
23
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3answers
4k views

Where did the famous “end of decade” deadline come from?

In his address to Congress on 25th of May 1961, John F Kennedy committed for the first time to land a man on the Moon and bring him safely back before the end of the decade. But the feasibility ...
23
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4answers
18k views

Is the SLS irrelevant if the Falcon Heavy launch is successful this year?

My take is that, like so many bad, and good, NASA ideas, the SLS will get the axe after spending billions on the NASA subcontractor(s). Regardless if the SLS comes to full life cycle, NASA will not ...
23
votes
1answer
5k views

What celestial body did NASA carve and why is it eating a spacecraft?

The Mashable.com article No one carves a Halloween pumpkin like NASA engineers shows several interesting examples. But this one I can't figure out. The caption reads only. Om nom nom. Question: ...
22
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7answers
6k views

How does a spacecraft know that it is in orbit?

After a 5 year long journey in space, Juno finally reached and started orbiting Jupiter. How does the probe actually know that it is in orbit, so that it can send confirmation message like 'Welcome to ...
22
votes
1answer
8k views

Why did NASA wet the road in front of the Space Shuttle crawler?

In this video, at the 6:25 mark, you can see a truck drive in front of the crawler, spraying water on the gravel ahead of the treads. Why did they do this?
21
votes
2answers
3k views

How can Trident be so inexpensive? Will it orbit Triton or just do a (slow) flyby?

The recent NY Times article Neptune’s Moon Triton Is Destination of Proposed NASA Mission says (in part): HOUSTON — Is it time to go back to Neptune? Scientists representing NASA’s Jet ...
21
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4answers
17k views

Why did Armstrong pilot the LM, when Aldrin was tasked as Lunar Module Pilot?

Buzz Aldrin is credited (or was tasked) with being the Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot. However in fact it was Neil Armstrong who piloted the craft down when the LM guidance computer overflowed, with ...
21
votes
1answer
9k views

Voyager 3: what would have been its mission, and why was it canceled?

In researching the answer to this recent question, I came across some information that was new to me. A third Voyager mission was planned, and then canceled. Apparently, Voyager 3 was cannibalized ...
21
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2answers
2k views

Did the designers of Voyager neglect the angular momentum of the tape recorders?

I have heard many times that the designers of the Voyager spacecraft neglected to account for the angular momentum of the tape recorders (on which data was stored). To compensate for it after launch, ...
21
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1answer
2k views

Does NASA address libido of astronauts that are in space for prolonged periods of time?

Libido can affect behaviour, judgement, group dynamics etc, which could pose a risk for the effectiveness of a mission. Is this somehow addressed by NASA, for example in screening during recruitment, ...
20
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3answers
3k views

Fortran and the Apollo 11 mission

I was just wondering, as a Fortran user. As far as I know, the simulations taken in order to carry the Apollo 11 mission was written in Fortran 2. I would like to confirm this from a reliable source. ...
20
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1answer
4k views

What were the “pills” that were added to solid waste in Apollo 7?

In the BBC News Worldservice podcast 10, 9, 8, 7: The dramatic missions that made the Moon landing possible told by retired astronaut Nicole Stott (Expeditions 20, 21, STS-128 and STS-133) after ...
20
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2answers
2k views

How did NASA determine the distance and velocity of voyager 1?

According to Wikipedia At a distance of about 125.97 AU (1.884 × 10$^{10}$ km) from the Sun as of September 9, 2012, it is the farthest manmade object from Earth As of 2013, the probe was ...