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Questions tagged [spacecraft]

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

16
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5answers
17k 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 ...
21
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8answers
4k views

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wooden structural elements?

Not a trick question, but a real puzzler - which spacecraft or spacecrafts incorporated real wooden structural elements?
24
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6answers
7k 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 ...
59
votes
6answers
24k 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 ...
13
votes
2answers
20k 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?
28
votes
3answers
4k 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. ...
40
votes
5answers
12k 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 ...
20
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2answers
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?
20
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
378 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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?
23
votes
9answers
7k 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
710 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
218 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 ...
39
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
39
votes
14answers
15k 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,...
4
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2answers
3k views

On which device data gets saved on spacecrafts? [closed]

How does it? I have a turning hard disk drive in my pc, but I think it would break if I put it on a rocket. Also, what speeds do those things have?
5
votes
2answers
370 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
508 views

Does Cassini have one or two identical main engines - if two, how does that work?

I just read that when Cassini makes it's first close pass of Saturn's F-ring on December 4, it will be the 183rd time the engine fires. I googled Cassini's engine and found this site which has a cool ...
28
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
26
votes
2answers
59k 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?
35
votes
1answer
23k views

Why does the ascent stage of Apollo 11's lunar module look like it's made of paper?

Here's an image (AS11-40-5922) from Apollo 11 that NASA describes as: View of the ascent stage from the northeast. Note the wrinkled surface of the RCS plume deflector and the warping of the rear ...
22
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
16
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4answers
2k 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 ...
12
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1answer
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 ...
10
votes
3answers
403 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/...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How is spin stability used in spacecraft?

I understand the basic concept inasmuch that the gyroscopic effect is used and that the rigid body is given an initial spin around an axis of maximum mass moment of inertia (MMOI). However, can ...
7
votes
2answers
731 views

Are the Earth's 10 Lagrange points stable and large enough to park multiple satelites/space vessels

I know that we already have satellites in position at our Lagrange points, but what if we want to use them to park spacecraft sections for assembly reasons, or possibly even a meteorite for mining. ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Why is it not possible to deorbit in a shallow glidepath?

The fiery re-entry of spacecraft has been a staple of spaceflight since the beginning, making ablative heat shielding a necessary component of any craft wishing to return to Earth intact. This is the ...
11
votes
1answer
646 views

Spacecraft Maneuvers as Intellectual Property? Wow!

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 activity - ...
10
votes
2answers
596 views

Would a rotating spacecraft disorient those looking out of it?

I'm curious, if a space station were rotating to produce a gravity-like force, would being able to see large portions of the sky disorient human beings? Is there any research on the maximum rotation ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the fastest can we or have ever traveled in space?

What is the fastest vehicle currently in space? At what speed with our technology currently does physics restrict our speed limits in space?
4
votes
0answers
178 views

What are the future prospects for spacecraft autonomy

edit: Possibly helpful information in Gizmodo and YouTube. In general spacecraft are supplied with propulsion systems often with substantial redundancy in the plumbing and engines or thrusters so ...
2
votes
2answers
209 views

Insight mission broken-plane maneuver needed?

Will the Insight cruise stage do a broken-plane maneuver at TCM-2 (or 3), or does the Centaur upper stage have plenty of performance (as I suspect) to directly insert this small s/c into the necessary ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Can we set up an orbiting transporter between Earth and the Moon?

I will give an example with the moon. If some spacecraft is put either in orbit around both earth and moon or in highly eccentric orbit that intersects with the moon orbit, some other spacecraft can ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Do we have any idea when Tiangong-1 will deorbit?

In March 2016 China's Manned Space Engineering Office announced that all Tiangong-1 telemetry had failed leaving no ability to safely control the space station's decent. With what we know about the ...
13
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3answers
506 views

Apollo era remote control of vehicle

I am wondering what kind of ability NASA had during the Gemini or Apollo program era to control the vehicle from the ground. From reading some capcom transcripts and looking through some random ...
13
votes
5answers
669 views

Are there any plans to establish depots in space?

Fuel weight is a major limitation on the range of manned spacecraft. It might make sense to pre-position fuel tanks (establish depot/depots) in orbit with different planets and moons to serve as ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Largest inhabitable volume in space

When you look at space ships, capsules and stations, one thing that is lacking in space is… space. As in: pressurized volume a human can freely move in. Most are tiny tin cans. So I was wondering, ...
8
votes
1answer
605 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
383 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
266 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
595 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
320 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
348 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 ...
47
votes
9answers
4k views

Why are spacecraft data systems obsolete at launch?

One might think that spacecraft would be on the cutting edge of technology. However, when looking over details of spacecraft, it seems their computer systems are often very much behind the times. ...
37
votes
4answers
5k views

Why wasn't the Mars Climate Orbiter's fatal error caught prior to launch?

The Mars Climate Orbiter failed in 1999 due to: ground-based computer software which produced output in non-SI units of pound (force)-seconds (lbf·s) instead of the SI units of newton-seconds (N·s) ...
6
votes
3answers
833 views

What country or flight team would be the most likely to rescue me from space?

The Situation: I have lost all functionality of my spaceship. I cannot thrust forward backwards, whatever....It is basically a floating metal container. I have power, communication abilities, I have ...
17
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2answers
2k views

What factors determine whether a spacecraft/probe/satellite uses gyroscopes or propellant thrusters to rotate?

Say I'm designing a probe or satellite. To control its attitude, I can add some gyros, or I can put thrusters on each corner, or I can add both and pick one in flight according to the situation. How ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Does anybody work on a “spacecraft linux”?

There are quite many industrial Linux adaptions around, like in your router's firmware or the Android OS. On long term, probably any spacecraft will need to run more or less standard profiles of ...