Questions tagged [refueling]

Questions about adding additional propellant to a spacecraft after it is in space, in order to allow it to go further, carry a greater payload, or to continue to maneuver or maintain attitude control.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
3 votes
1 answer
192 views

Does NASA document what it contemplates? "NASA had already been contemplating a costly and risky robotic refueling mission" for JWST

Ars Technica's All hail the Ariane 5 rocket, which doubled the Webb telescope’s lifetime says: Because ten years seemed like a fairly short operational period for such an expensive and capable space ...
user avatar
  • 148k
2 votes
0 answers
61 views

Does SpaceX still plan to use acceleration (ullage) for Starship refuelings? If so, could they use rotational acceleration?

In the September 2017 SpaceX video Making Life Multiplanetary after 23:40 the fuel transfer process between similar-looking upper stages is illustrated, with the ...
user avatar
  • 148k
3 votes
2 answers
396 views

Could SpaceX Super Heavy (Starship) Booster reach Earth orbit without starship on top?

I'm thinking about orbital fuel tanks for low earth orbit, and even Mars orbit in the event fuel farms on Mars take longer to build than anticipated. That said, Can SpaceX put a nosecone on its Super ...
user avatar
  • 105
2 votes
1 answer
190 views

Which two spacecraft are being shown disconnecting here, and what was the connection for?

The new Wall Street Journal video China's Answer to the Aging International Space Station: The Tech Behind Tiangong | WSJ shows what looks like it might be a fuel transfer connection decoupling at <...
user avatar
  • 148k
0 votes
0 answers
66 views

Largest number of times that a bit of fuel has been exchanged between spacecraft? Between spacecraft tanks?

Scott Manley's Russia's New Space Station Module Causes Alarm On ISS says a bit after 18:38: The fuel system isn’t going to be entirely isolated because when ...
user avatar
  • 148k
8 votes
5 answers
3k views

Refueling a Mars mission on the way

Inspired by another question asking why we can't use faster rockets to Mars I came up with a naive question of my own ;-). The answer to the first question is that the pesky rocket equation makes ...
user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
463 views

How does the economics of orbital refueling vs bigger rocket work?

SpaceX plans to refuel Starship in orbit for Moon and Mars missions. According to some other questions here, it seems like they would need 6 tanker Starships to send 1 Starship to Mars. At a glance, a ...
user avatar
  • 485
0 votes
0 answers
33 views

Moon Mission - Mars Mission

They can stay on the moon only around for 3 days because of the fuel but they need around 6 months to reach Mars. Now they are working on the Propellant depot project to be able to reach the moon and ...
user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the extent of on-orbit refueling experience at the ISS? Which fuels? which spacecraft?

In a discussion associated with this answer a comment includes the following: The ISS is the only spacecraft in the world that has experience with regular on-orbit refueling. What is the extent of ...
user avatar
  • 148k
1 vote
0 answers
80 views

Max final speed of a Falcon 9 2nd stage after being refueled in LEO?

Starship payload to LEO is about 100 tons Falcon 9 second stage needs about 100 tons of propellant. If a Falcon 9 second stage waits in orbit, a Starship comes and refuels it, then Falcon 9 uses all ...
user avatar
  • 2,454
2 votes
1 answer
342 views

Why we do not refuel and assemble in orbit?

Using simple math or playing Kerbal SP inevitably leads to re-using first stages and refueling in orbit for missions far away. It seems, it is always the most economical and simple approach to refuel ...
user avatar
  • 282
6 votes
2 answers
952 views

How much fuel, (in tons) will a dedicated tanker be able to deliver to a starship in LEO?

The starship tankers that will refuel starships in orbit will only carry fuel. I’ve heard it described that at first they will simply be normal starships, but with more fuel leftover when they reach ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
106 views

Is an electric fuel tug from LEO to moon orbit economically feasible?

Does it make economical sense to use an electricaly powered fuel tug to supply a moon landing program with fuel? I am imagining an architecture of launching a 25t payload of mostly fuel into LEO which ...
user avatar
  • 1,503
5 votes
1 answer
128 views

Tradeoffs sending a tank of fuel ahead of a crewed mission to another planet?

This is something that I'd seen in the BBC fictional documentary Voyage to the Planets. There, as the crew arrives in the orbit of Mars, there's a tank that has already been sent there so that the ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
106 views

Is present-day plumbing technology enough to make refueling of hypergol rockets safe? What about only in space?

Sadly, all of the currently commonly used chemical rocket fuels that are either hypergolic or storable are horribly toxic/corrosive/explosive. RP-1 is so safe you can pour it out of a gas can, but ...
user avatar
  • 7,688
4 votes
1 answer
797 views

How long does it take to refuel a rocket?

I've been wondering how long the refueling of a rocket, say the falcon 9 takes. That's it.
user avatar
  • 41
6 votes
2 answers
227 views

How do you mine water on Mars?

Water is required for human explorers of Mars and it is also widely expected to be used to synthesize methane rocket fuel for the return trip (by combining the water with CO2 and energy to create ...
user avatar
  • 1,271
4 votes
1 answer
482 views

Why do two Starships dock in such a manner their heat shields face opposite sides?

In the Starship Launch Animation, first, a crewed Starship launches and reaches orbit. Then the fuel tanker Starship rendezvous with the former and docks like this for orbital re-fuelling. It can be ...
user avatar
  • 3,096
12 votes
1 answer
483 views

How can Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1, 2) "dock with 80% of satellites currently in a geostationary orbit"?

Parabolic Arc's Mission Extension Vehicle Headed for Space discusses Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Vehicle, which is only briefly described in Wikipedia. The article states: A satellite ...
user avatar
  • 148k
22 votes
2 answers
10k views

Is it possible to refuel the James Webb Space Telescope?

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will be an incredible addition to the scientific community once it is launched and operational but the relative short planned mission time will make this a time ...
user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
149 views

VLEO - ion thrust using atmospheric molecules?

For very low Earth orbit satellites such as the SpaceX Starlink, would it be at all feasible to design an ionic thruster that carries no onboard fuel? Instead it would simply scoop the atoms directly ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
496 views

Is a Mars return mission by Starship possible without local propellant production, given the current specifications?

Let's imagine that Starship and Super Heavy were currently operational delivering the anticipated performance and reliably performing orbital refueling. As far as I know, Starship is capable of ...
user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
233 views

How to slow a spinning spacecraft externally?

I came accross the is question What are the consequences to breaking the ISS? and wander how would a spacecraft be made to stop spinning from the outside? Scenarios might include (but are not limited ...
user avatar
  • 1
5 votes
0 answers
116 views

What fuels would make refueling in space more dangerous/complicated?

I saw the question: Has in-space refueling been done? And was actually beginning to wonder, is refueling and transferring propellant dangerous in space? I understand that this would most likely be ...
user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Capacity of the BFR tanker -- how many flights to fully refuel the spaceship?

So, the current plan for the BFR has the spaceship massing 85 tons and carrying 50 tons of cargo plus around 1000 tons of fuel and oxidiser (according to wikipedia), most of which is presumably ...
user avatar
  • 18.9k
9 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can five refillings of the BFR second stage be useful to get to the Moon? To Mars? All five in Earth orbit?

EDIT: Here are some BF numbers from the video: ...
user avatar
  • 148k
10 votes
1 answer
853 views

Is BFR refilling in space purely milli-g "gravity" feed rather than using pumps and/or pressure?

On-orbit refueling of the SpaceX BFR upper stage is necessary for trips to the Moon and Mars. In the presentation at the "International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Adelaide, Australia, SpaceX ...
user avatar
  • 148k
11 votes
1 answer
432 views

Has on-orbit refueling ever been demonstrated with cryogenic fuels?

Looking at the question Has in-space refueling been done?, it looks like all fuel transfer operations in orbit have been done with room-temperature hypergolics. Has on-orbit transfer of cryogenic ...
user avatar
  • 1,898
10 votes
3 answers
613 views

Liquid settling in tanks during orbital refueling

I am interested in orbital refueling, not for satellites (though that’s a good idea) but for manned exploration and infrastructure. For instance, to support a lunar base we would want regular flights ...
user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
372 views

ULA: bringing propellants from Earth "Avoids Earth's Deep Gravity Well"?

I read SpaceX’s biggest rival is developing “space trucks” to ferry cargo in an orbital economy in Quartz which linked to this April 2016 outline of ULA's view of Transportation Enabling a Robust ...
user avatar
  • 148k
8 votes
2 answers
901 views

Is Landsat-7's propellant resupply port "robot-ready"? (Restore-L mission)

update 2020-11-20: OSAM-1 (Formerly Restore-L) Continues to Make Progress, Fuel Tank Installed note: the recent 2019 news Northrop's satellite refueling spacecraft launches on October 9th which is ...
user avatar
  • 148k
13 votes
3 answers
2k views

Viability of orbital refueling

One of more successful tactics in Kerbal Space Program in order to get big missions with a lot of delta-V going is to launch the big interplanetary craft (with landers, rovers, service modules and ...
user avatar
  • 52.4k
32 votes
3 answers
8k views

Has in-space refueling been done?

Before the Apollo program committed to the lunar orbit rendezvous mode, one of the Earth orbit rendezvous proposals involved launching two Saturn Vs, one with the Apollo spacecraft and large lunar ...
user avatar