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Questions tagged [spacecraft]

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

14
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4answers
2k views

Why aren't there any space tugs in use?

Ion thrusters are capable of providing the same amount of delta-V for far less fuel (e.g. Falcon 9 v1.1 second stage specific impulse is 340 seconds, while some ion-thrusters have a specific impulse ...
4
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1answer
400 views

Advances in AI and Avionics needed for deep space exploration?

We have come a long way since the first space missions, and now we have state of the art avionics systems on board our spacecrafts. The more deep we go into space, the more autonomy our robotic ...
9
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3answers
305 views

Are there any drawbacks or potential dangers on using touch-sensitive instrument panels on spacecraft?

Just as seen on Orion and Dragon designs (I haven't checked on other current spacecrafts), there are a lot of benefits from using touch-sensitive panels instead of traditional electrical switches. ...
1
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1answer
204 views

If a flight crew becomes incapacitated some way, in space, can they still get home? [closed]

How would a crew of a spacecraft get home if 'everyone' on the spacecraft becomes incapacitated, immobilized or go unconscious? The crew is alive and stable but unable to operate equipment. Is ...
6
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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 ...
-7
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2answers
695 views

Is Orion space craft evident that NASA didnt send human beyond the earth orbit? [closed]

I was reading in the news that NASA was testing sending humans beyond the earth's orbit (higher than 200 miles I think ), so the test was this program and they were happy because it succeeded to send ...
28
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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 ...
18
votes
1answer
8k views

How did astronauts traverse from module to module in the Apollo craft?

I was looking at some diagrams for the Apollo spacecraft, which I found to be interesting. It's clear that there's two separate enclosures that astronauts could reside in (the lunar module and command ...
7
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1answer
698 views

Communication Blackout

All the atmospheric entry missions endure a communication blackout. What parameters except plasma penetration frequency affect the blackout time and how ? Also, Comm Blackout states that space ...
1
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0answers
82 views

Why can't space agencies “splashdown” command modules on solid surfaces? [duplicate]

So, I'm watching NASA's Orion splashdown coverage and I thought of something. The Navy is taking an awfully long time to recover the Orion command module. If braking engines (see Soyuz reeentry ...
0
votes
1answer
190 views

Multi level Gravity Wheel [closed]

If you had a space structure in the form of a disk shape. Inside it would have rooms and hall ways connecting the rooms. Each hall is a continues ring so if you walk in one direction in a hall you ...
11
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2answers
222 views

Why is Gaia so much dimmer than we thought?

The ESA is using ground-based telescopes to precisely gauge the position of the Gaia satellite. But the satellite appears at about the 21st magnitude, three magnitudes dimmer (~16 times) than expected!...
16
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3answers
2k views

Do we send the battle tested prototype or the freshly made copy out there?

Specifically in the case of complex mechanical space vehicles (e.g. rovers, landers), do we just refuel and send the battle tested and carefully fine tuned prototype on the mission, or do we take the ...
35
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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 ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Could Von Neumann probes be forbidden by technological limitations?

The famous Fermi paradox asks an important question: if space-faring civilizations exist and are not extremely rare, why are they not already here? Von Neumann proposed a probe, that flies to nearest ...
0
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3answers
2k views

Is it possible to stand still in space?

I am wondering to know if it's possible to stand still (no movement at all with respect to the Sun) in space. Can it be possible? I am thinking that when we move upwards from Earth's surface an ...
7
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5answers
827 views

Has any spacecraft landed on Earth with propulsion only? Or else, from what highest altitude?

Dragon will land on Earth using only the propulsion from its rocket engines. Has any operational or test spacecraft done that before? If not, what is the highest altitude from which propulsion-only ...
10
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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/...
9
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1answer
901 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 ...
40
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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 ...
3
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2answers
372 views

Lunar-built Spacecraft

Years ago space settlement advocates were working out ambitious schemes for orbiting colonies housing 10,000 people. They were to be built of lunar-derived materials and would have been occupied ...
4
votes
3answers
286 views

Is there an existing method of automatic thruster alignment?

Does any mission have a propulsion system such that thrusters are aligned automatically, in order to only give delta-v, but without changing angular momentum? If so, how is this done? That is to say, ...
5
votes
1answer
963 views

How could a spacecraft be continuously propelled if it rotates to simulate gravity (by tether)?

For long term crewed space travel, gravity might be simulated by rotating a habitat in a long tether to a counter weight. Conventional chemical rocket engines give a spacecraft a brief initial impulse....
16
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1answer
383 views

What is the purpose of Hubble's aft vents?

What is the purpose of the 4 vents at the aft section of the Hubble Space Telescope? The spacecraft is operating in vacuum and the interior of the telescope is devoid of any gas, so venting seems ...
0
votes
1answer
5k views

What's the record for the fastest orbit around Earth? [closed]

I am just curious what record is fastest orbit around the Earth. Although I suppose there are three different metrics one could use to measure what does one mean by fast so here are the three I ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Have any spacecraft been launched or proposed to make a survivable close encounter with the Sun?

Have any spacecraft been either launched or proposed which involve a survivable close encounter with the Sun? This would include solar observation missions as well as any missions designed to make a ...
12
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2answers
3k views

Does NASA have spacecraft that are specifically made for orbiting around the Sun?

Does NASA have projects with spacecraft which are specifically made for orbiting somewhere around the Sun? If yes, what can they be used for?
8
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2answers
266 views

When approaching target planets/moons, how frequently do spacecrafts take photographs?

When a spacecraft approaches its target (whatever is it a moon or a planet), how do they take photographs about it? Do they take as much as possible, or just in certain situations? What does it ...
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 ...
15
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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 ...
6
votes
1answer
394 views

Have the micronewton thrusters developed for the LISA mission been flight tested yet?

JPL together with Goddard and a private company called Busek Company Inc. developed a new type of propulsion system known as micronewton thrusters for the LISA mission (which has since had a name ...
10
votes
1answer
365 views

How was the Giotto spacecraft reactivated from hibernation mode?

The Wikipedia article on Giotto states that: Giotto was the first spacecraft to be re-activated from hibernation mode. How was the reactivation accomplished? Does the statement mean the ...
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 ...
13
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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?
7
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1answer
264 views

What is “forward rotation” of a spacecraft?

According to ISRO's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM): Forward rotation of the spacecraft has been completed successfully. What kind of maneuver is that and what is its purpose?
14
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2answers
694 views

How is gyroless operation possible?

I was reading recently about the near-loss of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft back in 1998, in this Wikipedia article. This article mentions that Only one gyro remained ...
13
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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 ...
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?
13
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1answer
888 views

What is the most distant planet from the Earth that a spacecraft has visited to date?

What is the most distant planet from the earth that a spacecraft visited has visited so far? What was the mission and when did it happen?
11
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1answer
239 views

Can the rovers on Mars see the comet flyby?

Within a few days Comet ISON is going to make a close flyby of Mars. Will the rovers on Mars have a chance to take a look at the comet as it approaches Mars?
8
votes
1answer
882 views

Is there any type of mechanical bearing that can be used in the full vacuum of space?

Plenty of spacecraft seem to have moving parts. Space shuttle doors open, robot arms manipulate things, etc. This is perplexing, when we consider that lubricating oil probably won't remain liquid, ...
7
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1answer
4k views

How many successful Soyuz launches have there been?

From the first Soyuz to the launch vehicles used today, how many launches have been deemed successful?
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 ...
22
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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 ...
39
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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,...
33
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2answers
1k views

Is the software running on any existing or decommissioned space probes available for download?

I was wondering if it was possible to download the software that runs any of the computers on existing or decommissioned space probes, landers, etc. For example, could one download the software that ...
8
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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 ...
47
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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. ...
28
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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. ...