Questions tagged [spacecraft]

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

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22
votes
8answers
4k views

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?
16
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5answers
20k 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 ...
61
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6answers
25k 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 ...
24
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6answers
8k 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 ...
21
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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?
5
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2answers
659 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 ...
13
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2answers
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?
41
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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 ...
30
votes
3answers
5k 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. ...
42
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5answers
13k 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 ...
22
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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 ...
0
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1answer
461 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 ...
14
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1answer
3k 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?
22
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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 ...
42
votes
14answers
18k 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,...
18
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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 ...
8
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1answer
905 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
243 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 ...
29
votes
1answer
5k 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 ...
24
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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 ...
10
votes
3answers
729 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/...
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 ...
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
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1answer
413 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 ...
4
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1answer
1k 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 ...
0
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2answers
550 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 ...
38
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7answers
25k 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 ...
37
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1answer
27k 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 ...
26
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2answers
70k 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?
9
votes
3answers
881 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 ...
31
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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 ...
16
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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 ...
10
votes
1answer
947 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 ...
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 ...
6
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2answers
835 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. ...
3
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2answers
233 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 ...
20
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1answer
1k 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 ...
16
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1answer
659 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
699 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
678 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 - ...
12
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3answers
683 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 ...
9
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2answers
724 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
9k views

What is the optimum shape for a spacecraft?

I understand that these days a spacecraft design is very much centred on what can be lifted into space by current rockets, hence the modular, cylindrical shape of the ISS. So, with current ...
7
votes
1answer
320 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,...
6
votes
1answer
201 views

What is the basic mechanics behind the way the orbits of the twelve Vela spacecraft evolved over decades?

After reading the question Where is Vela 1A? Is there any information what its orbit would be like now? and the answer there, it looks like they were deployed in roughly 5 day, 100,000 km circular ...
5
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4answers
2k 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?
5
votes
4answers
679 views

The plane of the orbit of Juno around Jupiter is not the ecliptic plane. How did it get into this plane?

Did Juno start off its course on the ecliptic plane from the earth orbit and then left it at insertion to Jupiter's orbit over its north pole or it was always in that plane?
4
votes
4answers
344 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
142 views

Highest velocity impact between a spacecraft and a solar system body? What about for a dedicated impactor (spacecraft component)?

In this answer I mention the proposed impact of DART: Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission Double Asteroid Redirection Test The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Element of the ...
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 ...