Questions tagged [spacecraft-development]

Relating to creating, testing, and refining technology for spacecraft.

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Would we include the main engine shield if we were designing the Cassini orbiter today?

The Cassini spacecraft flew two bipropellant main engines for major trajectory changes, each with a nominal thrust of 445N (100 lb for us Americans). The engines were located at the aft end of the ...
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19 votes
1 answer
2k views

Interstellar Travel Thought Experiment

I have been going over a bit of a thought experiment in my head lately. And wondering if someone more informed on the matter can share their thoughts Let's start with the premise that rocket/ ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Psyche & others will use Maxar 1300 series platform; are these the first instances of a commercial communications satellite bus sent to deep space?

Maxar's own blogpost Power and Propulsion Element: Five Questions with Maxar’s Tim Cole links to it's 1300 series platform page which says: The SSL 1300 is the world’s most popular spacecraft ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Identify this Mars helicopter prototype and when and where it was built and tested?

The new NASA video Things are really looking up (on Mars) is a short set of vignettes in anticipation of the Ingenuity helicopter's first tests on Mars. Below is a screenshot of a historical file ...
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5 votes
0 answers
227 views

Open source hardware at NASA

Given NASA has its open source software repository, I can not really find its open source hardware counterpart so I suppose such a thing does not exist. Is that true? The 3D models site (GitHub mirror?...
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4 votes
0 answers
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Most open source spaceflight missions revealed unintentionally

As of 2021 there are few fully open source satellites (OSSI-1, UPSat, FossaSat-1, Oresat, some more?) and numerous student groups building and documenting rockets. These projects are intended to be ...
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2 votes
1 answer
142 views

What are the economic parameters (market share, return of investment, etc.) of the private sector in the global space economy?

According to a recent statement by the Space Foundation, the global space economy reached a record $ 423.8 billion. It has expanded more than 70% in the last decade. Nowadays there are more than 80 ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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How can we express velocity of the Apollo mission relative to a moon-centered reference frame instead of an inertial reference frame?

I am really interested in the Apollo mission and I was wondering how fast did the astronaut pass by relative to the moon. I wanted to compare it with the speed of the car. I have been able to ...
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6 votes
1 answer
465 views

Simulating launch velocity of falcon 9

Help! I finished my numerical simulation of falcon 9 launch in google sheets, where I calculate all the value changes with time. But, when I looked at real launch to compare the values, I got really ...
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11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Were any other Space Shuttles ever planned?

At one point in Carl Sagan's novel Contact (1985), set c. 1999, the main character hitches a ride into space on a space shuttle: The President clearly was in favor of her visit [to a private space ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Storage density of a Deuterium-Helium 3 fusion pellet

in a series I am working on I will be using a D-He3 fusion drive system (similar to the one in the expanse according to Project RHO). I am under the assumption that the fuel will be stored in a pellet ...
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2 votes
1 answer
187 views

Why would one assume chamber pressure instead of chamber volume when designing a rocket engine?

Most modern rocket analysis methods can base calculations on either Gibbs free energy or the Helmholtz free energy when computing what the exhaust products (and hence, the exhaust velocity) will be (...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Why did Angara fly twice in 2014, but hasn't flown since?

Angara flew twice in 2014, in both the single- and five- core configurations. However, it's been six years and it's only scheduled to fly a third time much later this year (2020). How could it have ...
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12 votes
8 answers
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Is it possible to get a spacecraft into earth orbit using Linear Eddy Current Braking on an orbital runway?

The "Space Runway" [I have slightly edited this to clarify some issues that have been raised] Luke Parrish mentioned an unusual and novel space launch method to me. The idea is to get a spacecraft ...
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28 votes
2 answers
4k views

How were these pictures of spacecraft wind tunnel testing taken?

The picture below from this answer shows four spacecraft wind tunnel tests from the 1950s. In addition to the test object, the bow shock and turbulence are clearly visible. How is this visualization ...
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31 votes
1 answer
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How was the Skylab Rescue mission supposed to return 5 astronauts?

In addition to the three manned missions, there was a rescue mission on standby that had a crew of two, but could take five back down. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylab#Manned_missions How ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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At which stage of rocket development does systems engineering become critical/useful? [closed]

Rockets are complicated system and the interaction of the sub-systems are even more complicated. But different subsystems tend to be developed parallels without much interaction but does so when ...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Effect of the location of igniter in starting liquid rocket engine

What will be the effect of off axis igniter, say a Spark igniter has to be used along with a pintle? Will the igniter being off axis have any effect on engine start? Also, will an off-center igniter ...
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14 votes
1 answer
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What is the advantage of using Helium over Nitrogen when used for pressurising LOx?

In this Twitter post of the plumbing line diagram(left half) by LauncherSpace, one can notice that Helium is used for pressurising LOx while Nitrogen is used for pressurising Kerosene. Why the ...
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3 votes
2 answers
347 views

What are the advantages of separating a stage few seconds after its burn out?

Will separating a stage(first) immediately after its burnout cause damage to the upcoming stage (2nd stage).? Also,do the first stage separation and second stage ignition happen at the same instant ??...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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How can articulated spacecraft components increase the risk of gimbal lock?

This answer has got me baffled. In theory, yes. In practice, no. The problem is gimbal lock... There seems to be some risk of inducing gimbal lock if a spacecraft component of sufficient mass is ...
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3 votes
0 answers
248 views

Do rocket labs store propellants at higher pressure than the other rockets?

It is known that the Rutherford engines run on an electric pump-fed cycle. There must be a trade-off between the tank pressure of the electron rocket and battery capacity, for batteries are dead ...
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4 votes
1 answer
588 views

How is payload fairing designed?

What are all the design criteria considered when designing a payload fairing (some are payload volume, drag) ?
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1 vote
1 answer
117 views

What is the geometric dimensions of turbo pumps present in SSME?

Here is a really well documented and detailed explanation of the SSME engine. Looking through this, one can notice that there are no details of the dimensions. I would like to know about the ...
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2 votes
3 answers
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Why were the antennas on the spherical surface of some early satellites spiral-shaped?

In the question What's the spiral pattern on this satellite? I show this image of a spiral-shaped pattern on the spherical surface of a (presumably) vintage satellite or model thereof. @OrganicMarble'...
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2 votes
0 answers
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Is it undesirable for LOx to splash on the walls of combustion chamber?

Typically, there are annular ports on the injector plate to introduce fuel to cool the combustion chamber. Why is LOx not used for cooling despite it being extremely cold? Given there will be a lot ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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How is a spark plug igniter of rocket different from one used in IC engines?

US20120103302 shows a spark ignited prechamber combustion system typically used for IC engines. It basically consists of a chamber which has a input of premixed fuel-air mixture and a spark plug to ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Which of the orientation is preferred for static fire testing of a liquid rocket engine - vertical or horizontal?

Liquid rocket engine's hot fire testings are performed both vertically and horizontally. Vertical orientation - Falcon heavy, Falcon 9, Rutherford engine, UCSD Engine test from 2014 , Merlin 1D, MASA ...
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3 votes
1 answer
192 views

What is advantage of independent pumps vs common pump in clustered configuration?

The images of the engine clustering in the Rocket Labs's Electron rocket gives an indication that there are independent drive pumps for individual engines; I am not sure of it. I am not aware of the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
55 views

How to analytically estimate the pressure loss through an liquid injector?

A simple orifice and a pipe have well-documented pressure loss calculation. But when an injector has complicated flow patterns, is it possible to break it down into simpler sections by which the ...
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2 votes
0 answers
82 views

Which is preferred for liquid atomization - gas & liquid shear or liquid & liquid shear?

For generating a spray of droplets, liquid need to be disintegrated/atomized through shear forces. Typical injectors in IC engines and aircraft use shear between gas & liquid at the phase ...
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3 votes
3 answers
807 views

Is there anything like a standard for maximum temperature for mission-critical electronics in spacecraft?

In addition to radiation, acceleration, and vibration, a launch vehicle can encounter excursions in temperature, and critical electronics for guidance and control should probably be resistant to ...
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8 votes
1 answer
660 views

Could Space Shuttle's wings be diminished?

From Wikipedia The crucial factor in the size and shape of the Shuttle orbiter was the requirement that it be able to accommodate the largest planned commercial and military satellites, and have ...
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4 votes
1 answer
162 views

Once a spacecraft is in space what factors determines its top speed?

Is there a limitation of speed of a spacecraft in space because of suns gravity? Is the speed purely dependent on the engineering? Or other factors comes into play?
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39 votes
7 answers
26k views

Why do we not fly to space with helicopters? What are the practical altitude limits?

People will tell that there is no air, and this is why we cannot. But if I read on the internet, there is air in space, much less, but still something. for example, 100 km - 0.0000006 times as much ...
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5 votes
1 answer
159 views

Should spacecraft's hypergolic propellant tanks be always 100% full at launch?

So, we are designing a spacecraft, Communication satellite, interplanetary probe, etc. Anyway, extra propellant for in-space maneuvers is always good. Initially we have: wet mass cap by rocket ...
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7 votes
1 answer
319 views

How might excluding the UK from Galileo set the European programme back years and cost the EU billions?

edit 1: More here: Brexit 'will force Airbus work on Galileo out of UK' and now here: Brexit: UK wants £1bn back from EU if it is excluded from Galileo edit 2: And now more here: UK rebuffed over ...
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0 votes
2 answers
340 views

Most useless artificial Earth satellite [closed]

What if some future Falcon Heavy's launch put a regular boulder in orbit around Earth (as a secondary payload)? Well, not arbitrary one that lies by the edge of the road, rather something resembling ...
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6 votes
2 answers
305 views

Does stress-testing a spacecraft affect its durability?

When a spacecraft is built and prepared for a future launch, its parts and the whole spacecraft usually goes through a lot of testing - for example, the James Webb telescope has already been through ...
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22 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why did Apollo spacecraft use both AC and DC equipment? Still used in present and future designs?

Why did the Apollo spacecraft use both DC and AC power, requiring heavy inverters? Was it impractical to design everything to run on DC power only? Why? Are both AC and DC power still used in present ...
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4 votes
1 answer
439 views

Controller to reaction wheel interface

A typical controller generally gives control torques which should be applied about the axis of a satellite. How exactly is this torque applied using a reaction wheel? For example if control torques ...
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5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why was SpaceWire designed with nine wires?

I just learned about SpaceWire in this great answer about the slip-ring rotating electrical connection between its solar panel and attached sun-pointing instrumentation, and the body of the craft with ...
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18 votes
4 answers
3k views

How large could launchers become?

I've heard that the size of Saturn V was pretty much as big as could've been built in the 1960s. And the Soviet N1 did basically fail because it was too large for their infrastructure and engine size ...
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12 votes
2 answers
650 views

What limits how long spacecrafts like Orion, Dragon, Starliner can support their crews' lives?

The next generation crewed spacecrafts is about to fly in the decade of 2020. Not only those in the headline here are trying to make it, but more are being developed privately and internationally. ...
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21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Does SpaceX use any of Falcon-9's camera data for engineering or status information, or are they "just for PR"?

I've previously asked Roughly how many self-viewing cameras are present in a Falcon 9 LEO mission? asking if it's closer to a dozen or a hundred on a log scale, because I have a hunch there's probably ...
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  • 148k
12 votes
1 answer
2k views

How are remove before flight (RBF) pins made?

The CubeSat standard (CubeSat Design Specification Revision 13) requires that CubeSats have a remove before flight (RBF) pin that "shall cut all power to the satellite once it is inserted into the ...
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6 votes
2 answers
315 views

How did the USA cooperate with western allies during the Apollo program?

France launched its Diamant rocket to orbit between 1965 and 1975, and the UK its Black Arrow 1969-1972. Did they take advantage of NASA's rocket development experiences? Were any Apollo system ...
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2 votes
1 answer
118 views

The Tootronaut is ready to enter the Earthtoo atmosphere, will it be twice as hot?

In this question I posed the problem of getting an inhabitant of the planet Earthtoo into low orbit (LEtooO) using conventional rocket. Judging by the great answers there, it is - to my surprise - ...
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17 votes
1 answer
4k views

What are the challenges to landing a spacecraft on Mercury?

I read that it would be more difficult to land (not crash land) on Mercury or even send a spacecraft in orbit around it because of the gravitational pull of the Sun and the lack of planetary ...
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-2 votes
2 answers
373 views

Why can't we travel at the speed of light? [closed]

I understand we may not have the technology for it as of now. But I have also heard it's because we don't have enough energy, and traveling at or near the distance of light speed will require an ...
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