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Questions tagged [spacecraft]

Questions regarding the craft that house humans or equipment during space exploration.

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27 votes
10 answers
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Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

Not a trick question, but a real puzzler - which spacecraft or spacecrafts incorporated real wood structural elements?
uhoh's user avatar
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50 votes
14 answers
27k views

Why are there no spacecraft rotating for artificial gravity?

Spacecraft rotating to generate artificial gravity through "centrifugal force" are commonplace in science fiction but not in reality. Considering the problems in long missions (among others: bone loss,...
Gnubie's user avatar
  • 945
18 votes
5 answers
27k views

Can magnets be used to launch spacecraft?

I assume there is some reason we don't use magnets to launch off Earth. Are they not strong enough? Isn't magnetic force technically stronger than gravity?? Would either of these work: A tube tunnel ...
Space Librarian's user avatar
27 votes
6 answers
10k views

Why does data transfer rate decrease with distance

I read that the New Horizon's probe will send data to back to Earth at 3000 bits per second by the time it reaches Pluto. I don't understand why a spacecraft has to have a lower data tranfer rate ...
math_lover's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Physical meaning of perigee advance

I'm starting to study orbital perturbations and I can't find any physical explanation about the perigee advance (apsidal precession) when considering Earth oblateness effects. Can someone give a ...
Julio's user avatar
  • 1,732
3 votes
1 answer
800 views

How will GOES-R simultaneously point some instruments down at Earth and others sunward?

GOES-R is scheduled to launch soon and put in geostationary orbit over North America for high bandwidth continuous monitoring of Earth, with only 120 minutes per year interruptions caused by ...
uhoh's user avatar
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66 votes
6 answers
26k views

Can I drive Elon Musk's Tesla after it's been in space for 100 Years?

We know that the the payload of the maiden Falcon Heavy flight will be... Elon Musks's Tesla Which will be placed in "Mars Orbit" Assuming it is serviced and road ready when launched with the keys in ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
39 votes
5 answers
9k views

What is the total mass sent into orbit over all history?

I would like to find a good estimate of the sum total amount of payload that humans have put into space, that is, over all years, all space programs, and all types of payload that reached orbit. ...
AlanSE's user avatar
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26 votes
5 answers
2k views

Gliding into the atmosphere

The recent question about Cessna reentering from ISS got the answers that all imply a rapid drop. But from what I know, air drag is proportional: to square of airspeed to air density to attack ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
18 votes
1 answer
7k views

What are quaternions and how are they used to represent spacecraft dynamics?

The title says it all. Quaternions are widely used to represent the orientation of a spacecraft. Why is that, and how do quaternions compare to other alternatives?
David Hammen's user avatar
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46 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why was Venus rather than Mars targeted for the first interplanetary landings?

This is a question about early planetary missions. It looks like there was only one early (unsuccessful) landing mission to Mars and that subsequently Venus became the target for interplanetary ...
user2705196's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
1k views

Spacecraft Maneuvers as Intellectual Property? Wow!

In the past I had encountered a few mentions of orbits being patented (or at least applications filed) but didn't take much notice. Then I did a simple search and was blown away by the sheer volume of ...
uhoh's user avatar
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21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Why did Soyuz TMA-18M take two days to reach the ISS?

Typically, a Soyuz crew vehicle takes 4 orbits to reach the ISS, but the Soyuz TMA-18M took 34 orbits or 2 days to reach it. Why is there so much variation from typical missions?
abr ga's user avatar
  • 721
14 votes
2 answers
21k views

What is the farthest a spacecraft has traveled away from earth?

I know there are some awesomely far spacecraft that have been travelling for decades away from earth, but which is the farthest? And has it discovered something amazing?
Jamd's user avatar
  • 243
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the largest delta-v ever produced in space from mechanically stored energy?

The math behind this answer suggests that while the delta-v delivered from hand-throwing an object from the ISS would not produce prompt de-orbit and atmospheric reentry, it would still lower the ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where is the center of mass of the ISS relative to it's internal coordinates?

I'd like to find a fairly precise location of the center of mass of the ISS. I understand it moves for several reasons, including shifting of loads, flexing, and thermal expansion, but to say 1 meter ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
41 votes
3 answers
15k views

Why haven't more spacecraft/satellites been hit by debris?

It is touted by the media that space is becoming more dangerous and risky due to an increase in space debris. Why haven't more craft been hit by the debris? I presume that it is not at a critical ...
Marmstrong's user avatar
  • 1,093
24 votes
3 answers
7k views

Do spacecraft have similar structural integrity requirements as submarines?

When a spacecraft performs a splashdown maneuver, a recovery team is standing by to retrieve the capsule and its human contents quickly. A flotation collar is deployed to increase buoyancy and ...
coleopterist's user avatar
  • 6,063
18 votes
1 answer
2k views

Which crewed spacecraft provides the gentlest descent and/or landing?

Landing with a Soyuz capsule is often compared to being in a car accident1, it's pretty violent on touch-down. On the other hand, I imagine the Space Shuttle's touch-down to be a little like a rough ...
DarkDust's user avatar
  • 12.5k
12 votes
3 answers
1k 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/...
user5826's user avatar
  • 121
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

When is a phased array antenna not a phased array?

This question is inspired by an answer to this question, where it is stated that: The real power of phased arrays is their ability to be steered electronically. This set me wondering about the ...
Puffin's user avatar
  • 9,644
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

How does tank pressurization work?

I know the basic premise of tank pressurization. A inert gas (usually Helium) is kept in small tanks in or around the large propellant tanks, and when propellant is burned the helium fills the empty ...
Jake Blocker's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
483 views

Is Cassini's 183rd burn; some kind of engine record?

I've just read that when Cassini makes its first close pass of Saturn's F-ring on December 4, it will be the 183rd engine burn which sounds like a lot for orbital maneuvers using a spacecraft's main ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
0 votes
1 answer
310 views

Local expansion measured, near zero via Lunar Ranging - what about deep space probes?

All of the discussion around this question and in the comments below this answer, about the local effects of "the expansion of space" (Metric expansion of space) or Cosmological redshift or just ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
23 votes
10 answers
9k views

Can you really use Arduino for a small spacecraft?

A group of Russian geeks intends to shoot a small vehicle to the moon, which is supposed to photograph the places of the Apollo landings. This will be the ultimate proof that people actually visited ...
user avatar
20 votes
4 answers
4k views

Reason for different "cone angles" of different space capsules?

Here is the Cargo Dragon: And here is the Orion: The "cone" that orion makes has a large opening angle - perhaps about 70 degrees. Meanwhile, the Dragon is almost cylindrical - the opening angle is ...
space_voyager's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
1k views

How important is plume impingement in rendezvous operations?

When performing space rendezvous operations close to the target vehicle (0-5 m relative distance), pursuer thruster escape nozzle gases can hit the target if firings are done in the direction of ...
Julio's user avatar
  • 1,732
13 votes
2 answers
2k views

Can the Right Ascension and Argument of Perigee of a spacecraft's orbit keep varying by themselves with time?

I came across the orbital data for a low Earth orbit spacecraft and one thing which I am not able to understand is why does its Right Ascension of ascending node and Argument of Perigee keep changing ...
ModCon's user avatar
  • 273
12 votes
2 answers
3k views

Are any Earth orbits in continual shadow of the Earth?

Do any orbits around Earth leave the spacecraft in permanent shadow? If not, what is the minimum amount of time that a spacecraft must be exposed to sunlight on average?
Slarty's user avatar
  • 9,560
12 votes
1 answer
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 ...
Hash's user avatar
  • 18k
8 votes
1 answer
2k 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 ...
My Other Head's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
501 views

How far from earth have atomic clocks (or ultra-stable oscillators) been placed and monitored?

The various flavors of GPS satellite constellations use atomic clocks on each satellite. As far as I know, all of the constellations are "shells" of circular MEO orbits in 3 to 6 planes, 20,000 to 25,...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
8 votes
1 answer
668 views

How will JWST be serviced?

Hubble, besides the initial high-profile COSTAR, was upgraded many times giving essentialy a new instrument with the same heavy/expensive glass. It was set in LEO for that purpose even though it has ...
JDługosz's user avatar
  • 539
5 votes
4 answers
834 views

Missions at or soon-to-be at Mars and their DSN "codenames"?

I'm "mining" old DSN data and would like to see all communications with spacecraft around Mars. A quick snapshot in their data shows the following codes. I can guess that ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
4 votes
4 answers
430 views

Using what technology one can keep a spacecraft truly non rotating

Inspired by the question I thought maybe a photon thruster can be used for precisely giving thrust to maintain spacecraft attitude. But soon I realized that for high precision attitude control, one ...
zephyr0110's user avatar
  • 2,901
4 votes
4 answers
2k views

What is the fastest we could travel in space, or have ever traveled in space?

What is the fastest vehicle currently in space? With our current technology, at what point does physics start to restrict our speed in space?
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
3 votes
1 answer
593 views

Do astronauts have to use sunscreen?

Of course the space suits can block most part of the radiation, but do the astronauts need to use sunscreen to protect their faces from the radiation passing thought the helmet or passing through the ...
user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
386 views

Could a CubeSat be propelled by this low-tech electromagnetic propulsion system?

I have come up with a conceptual idea for a low-tech electromagnetic propulsion system for a CubeSat, and I would like to know if it would create (on a theoretical basis) a net force strong enough to ...
user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
263 views

If a MarCO-type CubeSat were in orbit around Bennu, what kind of power would it need to communicate with the Deep Space Network?

This is a follow-up question to: What is the lowest power signal that the DSN can detect? Essentially, I have determined that the asteroid Bennu (ranging from 25 to 350 million kilometers from Earth) ...
SteveMcGroto's user avatar
36 votes
3 answers
12k views

Why do exploration spacecraft like Voyager 1 and 2 go through the asteroid belt, and not over or below it?

I understand the risk of hitting an asteroid is small, but I'm wondering if there's a reason spacecraft usually stay on the main Solar System orbital plane.
amorimluc's user avatar
  • 479
29 votes
1 answer
6k views

Why are spaceship capsules frustum shaped?

Why do spaceships have a frustum (portion of a cone) shape like e.g. the pressure capsule of the SpaceX Dragon on the image below?     I think there is some engineering stuff behind ...
Forin's user avatar
  • 393
26 votes
2 answers
73k views

What is the fastest speed ever reached in space travel as measured from the point in space from which it was launched to its current/final position?

Answers.com lists the New Horizons to have the fastest rocket. Is this info still valid? 7 light hours in 11 years at 50,000 km/h?
KingsInnerSoul's user avatar
22 votes
6 answers
7k views

Do windows in space stations, the space shuttle, other spacecraft have practical usage?

As we know, cars need a front window because drivers need to see the road to control the car, but how about the windows in space shuttles? As far as I know, the orbits of ISS or other space devices ...
Gstestso's user avatar
  • 817
19 votes
2 answers
15k views

Is the overall mortality rate for being in a spacecraft in space or bound for space about 4%?

I just read this answer in astronomy.stackexchange, where a sobering point was made that the overall to-date chance of losing ones life in a spacecraft is about 4%. While I don't want to dwell on ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
17 votes
11 answers
16k views

If a spaceship ran out of fuel somewhere in space between Earth and Mars, does it slowly drift off to the Sun?

Pretty much what the title is saying. I feel like I am missing something fundamental here and this is driving me crazy. Does a spaceship which is out of Earth's gravity drift to the Sun eventually?
user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
8k views

Apollo 17; what is a barber pole, and what did "it is gray" mean?

Following the links in this comment by @Uwe I've found some interesting sources of information on Ham (amateur) radio operators trying to listen in on Apollo transmissions. At the bottom of Sven ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
14 votes
3 answers
5k views

Repurposing a nuclear submarine for space travel

Although a nuclear submarine might not make a great spacecraft, would it be possible to repurpose it for space travel? Benchmark: USS Illinois (SSN-786), Virginia-class submarine (born in Virginia, ...
JSCoder says Reinstate Monica's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
1k views

Radial variation of atmospheric pressure in rotating O'Neill cylinder-like ship? (Rendezvous with Rama)

Sir Arthur C. Clarke was a science writer as well as a prolific writer of science fiction (including hard SF*), and his stories usually had a substantial footing in science. His book Rendezvous with ...
Greg Hogue's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

Pitch and yaw axes of rocket systems such as Apollo

Broadly speaking, most rocket systems appear to have at least 3 or 4 fold radial symmetry about their long axis (if you don't consider internals or smaller features not obvious from a distance). A ...
Anthony X's user avatar
  • 17.5k
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why aren't magnetic bearings used more frequently in reaction wheels?

This answer implies that it's due to budgetary constraints, but given that Kepler, Dawn and Hayabusa all had reaction wheel problems with lubrication before the end of the planned lifetime, it sounds ...
pen's user avatar
  • 163