Questions tagged [spacecraft]

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

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24
votes
9answers
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
votes
5answers
23k 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 ...
26
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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 ...
63
votes
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 ...
6
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2answers
808 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 ...
48
votes
14answers
21k 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,...
23
votes
5answers
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
520 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 ...
43
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4answers
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 ...
32
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3answers
6k 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. ...
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?
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?
17
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1answer
4k 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?
42
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5answers
14k 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 ...
24
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3answers
6k 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 ...
12
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3answers
841 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/...
6
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1answer
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 ...
3
votes
3answers
923 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
260 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 ...
24
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10answers
8k 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 ...
20
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4answers
3k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
858 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 ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Which crewed spacecraft provides the gentlest decent 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 ...
4
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4answers
752 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
203 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) ...
8
votes
1answer
1k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
633 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 ...
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 ...
27
votes
2answers
72k 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?
16
votes
9answers
12k 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?
13
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2answers
1k 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
729 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
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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?
10
votes
1answer
912 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
369 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,...
4
votes
4answers
379 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
4k 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, ...
10
votes
1answer
686 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 ...
8
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1answer
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
899 views

Which Voyager spacecraft “mutinied”, and what really happened?

The August 2017 BBC News Science in Action podcast The Algae that Changed the Earth includes other topics, including the following: In August and September 1977, Nasa's probes Voyager 2 and Voyager ...
5
votes
1answer
290 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
432 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
369 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
584 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 ...
39
votes
7answers
26k 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
votes
1answer
30k 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 ...
36
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4answers
6k 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) ...
34
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 the ...
17
votes
2answers
12k 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 ...