Questions tagged [uncrewed-spaceflight]

Questions about space flight activities without humans onboard.

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How likely is it that the Voyager spacecrafts haven't yet been damaged by micrometeoroids?

Both Voyagers have been traveling at over $60,000$ km/h for well over four decades and still seem to function properly, taking into account the slowly dropping power and warmth available from their ...
Tfovid's user avatar
  • 243
0 votes
1 answer
98 views

Are most launches for science missions?

Are most space missions launched for scientific purposes? I had thought so, but during a group discussion, someone suggested most are actually for commercial purposes. Are they correct? Thanks!
FalconHeavy321's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
169 views

What is that cone-shaped thingy on most orbiters?

Whether you're Looking at MRO, Odyssey, Juno, or MAVEN, you might notice it. That odd cone on the top or bottom of the spacecraft. Does anyone know what it is?
Deko Revinio's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Will SLS be launched as often as the space shuttle was?

Again, I did some research, and again, the results aren't that impressive. I was able to find that SLS is to become the " successor to the retired Space Shuttle, and the primary launch vehicle of ...
Deko Revinio's user avatar
  • 1,474
0 votes
2 answers
273 views

Why did Curiosity perform TCMs?

Why did Curiosity perform TCM (Trajectory Correction Maneuver)s 1 through 5? 6 makes sense since it needed to adjust course to actually once in the SOI, but the others don't. I understand that this ...
Starship - On Strike's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
145 views

Is pre-deorbit explosive disassembly of the ISS utilising propellant a useful way to reduce impact debris?

The ISS could be disassembled post retro burn to provide smaller pieces for burn-up. If the hull space were filled with a stoichiometric mix of propellant from the deorbiting vessel post-burn, it ...
Woody's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
105 views

how to soft-kill or soft-deny a target satellite?

Thanks to the rapid growth of commercial space technologies, the use of space by new players is increasing. To prevent outlaw or problematic new spacecraft let's suppose there is a "space police&...
L. Ricardo's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
271 views

Is it possible to perform powered flight on the upper atmospheres of gas giants?

After reading about Ingenuity, whose main challenge I heard was dealing with the relatively thin atmosphere of Mars, I wondered if the thicker atmospheres of gas giants could allow for powered flight ...
Hash's user avatar
  • 193
6 votes
0 answers
116 views

Challenges to constructing a "building" in Earth orbit (something like a hotel) 100% robotically?

Today my younger brother and I, while discussing the idea of building any commercial building (something like a hotel) in the Earth orbit, got into some debate with the assembling of the building in ...
Perfect Lord's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
2k views

When was the last time that an incandescent light bulb was launched into space?

Certainly the first crewed spacecraft had some incandescent light bulbs for indicators, though for cabin illumination the higher efficiency of fluorescent lights was often exploited. The question ...
uhoh's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
291 views

Was the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle supposed to be crewed?

NASA studied another space tug design, termed the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV), along with its plans for Space Station Freedom. The OMV's role would have been a reusable space vehicle that would ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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23 votes
4 answers
4k views

What is "mission design"? What do mission designers do (if such a designation exists)?

The question in meta Is the mission-design tag description wrong? Should the trajectory-design tag be somehow nixed? needs some attention, so I thought I'd turn to our "panel of experts" ...
uhoh's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
96 views

NASA design handbooks and specifications

Does anybody know the designations, publication names, etc. for the design standards which NASA uses for space flight hardware? I’d like to add these resources into my engineering library.
Romeo_4808N's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

First use of an incandescent light in an un-crewed spacecraft?

In early, pre-LED spacecraft indicator lights were incandescent I assume. For larger volumes of crewed areas of spacecraft fluorescent lights were often used. But what is the first use of an ...
uhoh's user avatar
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21 votes
7 answers
4k views

Why don't we build standardized space probes?

Why is each space probe is so different? This increase costs. Wouldn't it be beneficial to design one probe that can be sent in many different directions? Or maybe a set of probes, or maybe design a ...
Robert Gawron's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
109 views

Are there any differences in docking procedures between ISS and manned capsules vs. unmanned capsules?

The Russian Soyuz has an extensive history in docking with ISS with both manned and unmanned capsules. SpaceX just recently demonstrated manned-capsule docking with ISS with a history of unmanned ...
aranedain's user avatar
  • 463
-3 votes
1 answer
281 views

What does it take to send a probe into a primordial black hole near the Oort cloud?

Since Sept 2019 there's been some speculation1 whether the hypothetical planet far beyond the Kuiper belt is actually a primordial black hole. It would be the closest black hole to the Earth (500 au ...
user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
87 views

Could a rotorcraft fly on Triton?

Mars 2020 will use a drone to fly within Mars' atmosphere. Although it's thin, Mars also has a lower surface gravity which makes airflight possible on Mars. What about Neptune's moon Triton? Triton ...
user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
6k views

Did any spacecraft ever use the Sun's gravity for acceleration?

Space probes often use planets to accelerate onto a trajectory towards their goal(s) without having to consume too much fuel. But the fastest acceleration would be made through the Sun's gravity if ...
user avatar
28 votes
1 answer
5k views

Why not explore Cruithne?

Cruithne (3753 Cruithne) is in a near Earth orbit. Technically, a horseshoe orbit, because it orbits the sun so close to Earth's orbit that it almost, but never, passes us. When visible, which is ...
David Wilkins's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
5k views

Are fans ever used in un-crewed spacecraft?

The question For a Venus bound space probe could could a fan be used to prevent overheating? got me thinking. Most if not all crewed spacecraft have had fans to move air for one reason or another. ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
2 votes
1 answer
160 views

Has SpaceX said much publicly about uncrewed landings on the surface of the Moon or Mars?

It seems like this would be very good publicity as well as a necessary proof of concept, and SpaceX certainly has some experience with robotic/automated landings on Earth. I'm assuming this will be ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 337
21 votes
2 answers
7k views

Has any object launched from Earth gone into the Sun?

I've seen a lot of questions about the $\Delta V$ required to reach the Sun from the Earth (~22-30 km/s if I remember correctly), firing a bullet into the sun, etc. But has this ever happened? Has ...
CJ Dennis's user avatar
  • 653
3 votes
3 answers
231 views

Where in the solar system could a nuke be tested without anybody noticing?

Testing nuclear weapons is difficult on earth because of the large number of parties that want to prevent such tests from happening. Say that a country with a space program wants to test a nuclear ...
Display Name's user avatar
26 votes
2 answers
6k views

Were there any unmanned expeditions to the moon that returned to Earth prior to Apollo?

Apollo 8 orbited the moon, and obviously Apollo 11 landed. I'm wondering if there were any test missions to get unmanned ships to the moon and safely back to Earth? It seems like a big jump to ...
Joe Bob's user avatar
  • 291
2 votes
1 answer
234 views

How much less fuel do rockets burn with higher G force?

How does G force at launch differ between spacecraft when it comes to efficiency between crewed and uncrewed space flight? Does less time in the atmosphere equate to a savings in fuel for an ...
Muze's user avatar
  • 1
8 votes
1 answer
120 views

Has JPL been affected by the November 2018 California wildfires?

The Deep Space Network Now page shows no activity at all. Two hours ago, there was only testing on two of the Madrid dishes (so it's more than a faulty webpage). I've never seen anything like it ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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4 votes
3 answers
755 views

Have "QR" or other 2D barcodes been used in spaceflight?

Wikipedia: QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed in 1994 for the automotive industry in Japan. ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
6 votes
3 answers
1k views

How would the International Space Station be maintained unmanned?

Russia's lunch to the ISS failed and the crew may have to leave it unmanned. How would the ISS run without a crew? Could some one else take it over or squat in it? https://www.npr.org/2018/10/11/...
Muze's user avatar
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39 votes
7 answers
27k 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: $6\ \cdot 10^{-7}$ times ...
Zlelik's user avatar
  • 529
85 votes
7 answers
24k views

What can the KSP game actually teach about spaceflight and orbital mechanics, and what are its limitations?

I have seen at least several different users mention that they've found Kerbal Space Program helpful to understand issues of spaceflight and orbital mechanics. According to Wikipedia: While the game ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
11 votes
1 answer
666 views

How much manual flying is done in a modern manned spacecraft?

Considering we live in an age of unmanned spacecrafts, with computers more than capable of managing everything from attitude control, burns, to docking and insanely precise powered landings; how much ...
Viniter's user avatar
  • 695
21 votes
2 answers
3k views

Could an Apollo LM land uncrewed?

I believe that Apollo mission control had the ability to upload data and commands to the LM's guidance computer as long as they had an operational communications link. I'm wondering if, from the point ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
590 views

Are SpaceX competitors planning to create reusable vehicles

Although I know programs and visions of many space companies, I'd like to ask, does anybody knows if there is any competitor to SpaceX that wants to create a reusable rocket in the future? Let's ...
Tom11's user avatar
  • 603
5 votes
1 answer
346 views

Deep space craft antenna aiming

In order to aim an antenna at Earth, how do unmanned spacecraft find their own orientation (xyz position in space, what direction it is flying and which direction the antenna is pointing)? Are they ...
EEd's user avatar
  • 153
0 votes
1 answer
214 views

Help me build a space shotgun so I can shoot Venus from Jupiter

If one wants to move an object from orbit around one planet in the solar system and have it collide with another, what information is needed, and how would one go about calculating such a thing? For ...
Stonecraft's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
236 views

How does the Dream Chaser manned differ from Dream Chaser cargo?

The CRS (Cargo Resupply Services) 2 contract was announced with three winners, SpaceX for Dragon, Orbital for Cygnus, and SNC for Dream Chaser. How will the cargo version of Dream Chaser differ from ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 79.4k
7 votes
1 answer
338 views

What is the problem with pressure?

Among other reasons, the high pressure of Venus and the gas giants atmospheres are often stated as one of the major problems for an unmanned lander. They say the pressure will "crush" the probe. Why ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
24 votes
2 answers
37k views

Launch Accelerations: Values, history

This topic: What G-forces do different launchers cause? indicates that current satellite launchers are limiting peak acceleration to about 4g. I'm pretty sure the STS (Shuttle) did the same. My ...
Kengineer's user avatar
  • 1,748
9 votes
6 answers
1k views

Technology for unmanned spacecraft to exoplanets

I am interested in the possibility of sending unmanned reconnaisance spacecraft to study exoplanets, especially Earth-like ones with the ultimate goal of detecting alien life. Certainly earth-based ...
math_lover's user avatar
37 votes
3 answers
6k views

Is the "airship to orbit" mission profile feasible?

By one of those weird coincidences, I had been on JP Aerospace's site mere hours before reading this question about space dirigibles here. Their mission plan seems too good to be true. They are ...
Jerard Puckett's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
1k views

What is the least energetic trajectory design to send uncrewed supplies to Mars?

Both Mars One and NASA have suggested sending uncrewed supply ships to Mars as part of a manned mission or colonization. These payloads can take all the time they like, not being constrained by human ...
Jerard Puckett's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
160 views

Could electrodynamic tethers power long-term unmanned satellites around the Sun, Jupiter, or Saturn?

Assuming you have the budget to research electrodynamic tether powered unmanned satellites, and you had a cheap way of getting them in to earth low earth orbit, would they be able to use electricity ...
user2177046's user avatar
24 votes
5 answers
15k views

Olympus Mons - viable Mars landing site?

I'm becoming interested in how Mars missions are planning their landings. One aspect I see brought up time and again is Mars' awkward atmosphere - 'just enough there that you have to care about it'. ...
Wutnaut's user avatar
  • 523
6 votes
1 answer
200 views

What time of events is given for probes a long way away from Earth?

Philae is to land on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko today at 17:02 CET. The comet is currently 3.409AU away from Earth. That means signals from the lander take a little over 28 minutes to reach Earth. Does ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55k
16 votes
1 answer
764 views

What could the X-37 be useful for?

While U.S. Air Force doesn't disclose the tasks and roles for the X-37 Orbital Test Vehicle class spacecrafts, there are many things known about the vessel, such as its delta-v budget, its cargo bay ...
user avatar
20 votes
1 answer
726 views

Extending Use of ISS Beyond End of Mission

Given that the ISS will eventually come to the end of its mission (currently extended to 2020 (source)), would it be possible to re-purpose it for non-human space flight? To clarify: does the ...
superdesk's user avatar
  • 849
24 votes
7 answers
4k views

Why didn't the Apollo program do an uncrewed landing/ascent rehearsal?

They had a crew round the Moon before going for landing, but they didn't test any of the new landing and ascent operations uncrewed on the lunar surface. Why? Couldn't it be done by remote control? ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
7k 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 ...
Skylion's user avatar
  • 197
8 votes
1 answer
481 views

How many space craft have been intentionally crashed through 2014?

A couple of comments on the question Has there been any mission to land on a planet or moon in the Outer Solar System? suggesting that there is no scientific benefit to a crash on a moon, reminded me ...
James Jenkins's user avatar