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Questions tagged [spacecraft]

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

11
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2answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
248 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
832 views

Why has ESA never flown a crewed spacecraft?

According to Wikipedia, ESA has never had a crewed spacecraft. While this is reasonable, it's striking that no ESA crewed spacecraft is in development right now. What's the rationale behind this ...
9
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1answer
222 views

What's the record for the longest time a deep space craft has functioned without a reboot?

The question How is Voyager 1 still operating? and the interesting comparison to the record times that Earthbound servers have run without reboot got me thinking about deep space spacecraft. I'm ...
1
vote
1answer
77 views

How far did the Mars Polar Lander travel?

How far did the Mars Polar Lander travel in its journey to the red planet? I couldn't find the answer on Wikipedia or on the official NASA site. I'd prefer some answer based on a good source, or ...
5
votes
1answer
269 views

Why use skids for landing gear on an orbiter?

Why does the Dream Chaser use a skid as the nose landing gear? Wouldn't this increase the risk of accidents or damage to the runway when landing on a paved runway?
14
votes
1answer
345 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
195 views

How are the velocity and range of a spacecraft measured from ground based stations?

How are the velocity and range of a spacecraft measured from ground based stations? For example we can go on NASA's website and look at the real time data for the mission status of their past ...
-2
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1answer
291 views

What is the “true” cost to send a freighter (spaceX or SoyuZ) to the ISS? [duplicate]

What is the real cost (all costs) in to send a freight craft to ISS? Which launch system is the most cost effective?
2
votes
1answer
47 views

Have any deep-space spacecraft supported same-band turnaround of Earth-based doppler measurements?

Table 1 of this document gives Spacecraft Transponder Turnaround Ratios that are supported by the Deep Space Network. These are the PLL controlled divide-by ratios that a spacecraft uses when ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
382 views

Space Ship capable of travelling from Earth to Moon and back

What would be required to have a vehicle like the space shuttle in that it could launch from earth and travel through space and was reusable except that it also possessed the capability to land on the ...
2
votes
2answers
319 views

Has the Moon's shadow on the Earth (solar eclipse umbra) ever been photographed from beyond Earth orbit?

Here is a great answer with photos of the shadow of the moon on the Earth's surface (umbra) during a total solar eclipse, taken by real people in space, and links to even more of them. I think there's ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Are there any CubeSats that have been launched into Geostationary (GEO/GSO) or Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO)?

There is one mission by GSFC/NASA - Shields-1 to be launched into GTO. Apart from that I couldn't find any other mission to GTO/GEO. It would be of great help if there is any information on this.
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Why is Voyager 1 faster than all other space probes?

From the Wikipedia article, List of artificial objects leaving the Solar System: Although other probes were launched first, Voyager 1 was able to achieve a higher speed and has overtaken all ...
57
votes
4answers
13k views

How did people know how to build the first space ship?

How did the early designers of spacecrafts have any idea what space was actually like? How was a vessel ever constructed that actually flew through Earth's atmosphere without burning up, and then ...
1
vote
0answers
200 views

Can i become an astronaut by having bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering [duplicate]

I have bachelor's degree in computer science and engineering. And thinking about learning masters degree in aerospace engineering. Will that help me.in becoming an astronaut
0
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3answers
526 views

Why does a spacecraft's attitude become stable when it rotates?

What is the logic behind spacecraft spinning to increase stability? How does angular momentum play a role in this?
0
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1answer
198 views

How could you safely break onto a space shuttle? [closed]

Writing a near-future SF novel here. One character has to rescue another character from an enemy space shuttle (in orbit). Most hull breach scenarios sound really dangerous-- is there a method that ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

Difference between true anomaly and mean anomaly

What is the difference between true anomaly and mean anomaly in orbital mechanics? I want to understand the physical meaning of mean anomaly, for example true anomaly is the angular position of a ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the maximum speed an ion engine can propel a spacecraft at?

I read that with our current ion propulsion technology it is possible we could send a craft moving the maximum of 100km per second, or around 62 miles. However we seem to be limited by how strong of a ...
13
votes
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 ...
18
votes
1answer
765 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 ...
2
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1answer
142 views

Landing Hazards on Pluto

This is for a fiction project I'm working on. Assuming it becomes possible to someday land on Pluto, what hazards might be encountered given what we've learned about its surface makeup?
0
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0answers
77 views

What are the risks of using cheap industrial components for commercial space appliances esp. solution platforms for them?

This might be a stupid newbie question, but I really wonder reading that folks use cheap "commodity" hardware for satellites like mentioned here, like boards MSP430F5529 or STM32F407 but for sure ...
17
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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 ...
3
votes
1answer
147 views

Is satellite retrieval still relevant given the progress of in-orbit service?

The downmass capability was one of the US Air Force's requirements in the Space Shuttle design. It was planned that the shuttle would retrieve spy satellites from orbit for refurbishing. This ability ...
0
votes
1answer
231 views

What are “Tundra missiles” and why are they so hard to detect?

As mentioned in The Pod Bay Nasa Spaceflight has written: Soyuz 2-1B launches Tundra missile detection spacecraft. What are Tundra missiles, and why are they so hard to detect that there would have ...
1
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0answers
47 views

Radiation shield for Mars [duplicate]

Earth's magnetic field on its surface is 25 to 65 microtesla. Besides earth's atmospheric protection, majority of sun's harmful radiation on the earth is shielded by this small magnetic field. Such a ...
5
votes
0answers
943 views

How to calculate the complete true anomaly motion in an elliptical orbit?

The true anomaly motion as I understand, is not constant in an elliptical orbit. The rate of change of true anomaly is not constant as in the case of circular orbits, in which case the true anomaly is ...
3
votes
1answer
339 views

What are these 'Lego' plates inside the Atlas 5 fairing? [duplicate]

My local engineering newspaper has an article on the X-37B craft, with an image displaying the craft within half of the shell that encapsulates it. The shell has a number of plates arranged on its ...
2
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4answers
292 views

Accelerating spaceships via planetary magnetic fields

If traveling to distant planets in less time is an issue because of the fuel or speed, why can't we make use of a planet's magnetic field to accelerate ourselves given that almost all planets in our ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does a spacecraft have angular velocity relative to Earth?

I am reading sci-history about first steps into space. Before landing cosmonauts had to choose at which loop around Earth they would start landing procedures. Why does spacecraft have angular ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What happens to the last stage of rockets?

When launching stuff into earth orbit like satellites for example often the last stage will perform the burn to achieve stable orbit and will then be jettisoned. So now we have a rocket stage in ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

How can Cassini be a source of potential biological contamination?

In Wikipedia they mention that the Cassini spaceship will be destroyed in by sending it into Saturn's atmosphere: However, due to the spacecraft's dwindling fuel resources for further orbital ...
1
vote
2answers
321 views

How high *could* a glider reach, to catch a skyhook reaching down from orbit? [closed]

At the beginning of the third part of Seveneves Neal Stephenson describes how the protagonist Kath Two travels from the Earth's surface into the orbit with the aid of a Skyhook-named system. The route ...
3
votes
1answer
191 views

A laser can propel a spacecraft to 20% of light speed, time shorter on spacecraft?

So I recently learned about a project about using lasers on Earth to propel a spacecraft to 20% of light speed for interstellar traveling. So this brings an interesting question, how much shorter ...
5
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0answers
80 views

How are electrical and other utilities interfaces added to an operating pressurised spacecraft?

How are extra utility lines and pipes, like data, electrical, ?or gasses and fluids, added to a manned, pressurised and operating vehicle or habitat, in space? A spacecraft may be launched with, ...
2
votes
0answers
255 views

Simulation software for AOCS/GNC?

I would like to know what are the simulation software tools available as of today (free or commercial) to perform some attitude and orbit control (AOC) or guidance and navigation control analysis, I ...
4
votes
3answers
580 views

Could a “modern” N-1 rocket be successfully created and flown? [closed]

As we know, during the Space Race, the United States and the Soviet Union were in fierce competition. Each trying to best the other by creating their idea of a moon rocket. While the United States's ...
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
810 views

Why is OA-7 launching atop an Atlas V?

After replacing the old refurbished NK33 engines with newer RD-181 engines on Antares, and the successful OA-5 launch with Cygnus to the ISS, why is the next launch of Cygnus occurring on an Atlas V? ...
9
votes
2answers
541 views

Can we talk to Pioneer 6?

My question is relatively simple in the essence that it takes few words to ask, but scientifically may be a nightmare. In 2000, the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex sent a message to ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
153 views

What happens to a spacecraft in flyby Mission?

I am not a science guy, So I have couple of questions I want to know what happens to a spacecraft whose mission is to flyby a planet E.G. Mariner 4 Also Viking 1 (lander mission) is it still on mars?...
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) ...
5
votes
3answers
730 views

SAR image processing

Is it possible for conventional x86 based processor/High precision GPU to be used for image processing for space borne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) system? If not, are there alternatives using ...
32
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is there a large wooden ball on Mariner 3's magnetometer?

Wood is good for certain niche space exploration applications, but the one below is not for spaceflight. According to the documentation for the archived photo: Several spacecraft were built for ...
5
votes
2answers
539 views

How does a thermal control system of a spacecraft basicaly work?

I'd like to know how a thermal control system of a spacecraft basically works. As the only possibility to get rid of the thermal heat is through radiation, I'd like to get a basic qualitative ...
3
votes
2answers
954 views

Why are meteors, asteroids and comets not used as propulsion for spacecrafts? [duplicate]

I know it would take a lengthy amount of time to reach the asteroids and meteors. After hearing of the Europeans landing a probe on a comet, the first thing I could think of was: "Could this be used ...