Questions tagged [uncrewed-spaceflight]

Questions about space flight activities without humans onboard.

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1answer
132 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 ...
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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&...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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" ...
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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.
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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. ...
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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/...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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332 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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315 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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'. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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? ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Additional tasks for ATV, HTV, Dragon and Cygnus

The Progress cargo vessels are often given additional tasks of technical or scientific value. Typically performed after they undock from the station. Many of them participated in the series of ...
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Why don't unmanned launch vehicles include launch escape system for payload?

Mention of Launch Escape System (LES) brings to mind images of the crew on board a spacecraft ejecting at launch; the crew being the most valuable cargo on board. Launch vehicles may also be unmanned,...
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What are the risks involved in amateur high-altitude ballooning, and how can we mitigate them?

Over the past few years, it's become somewhat of a trend to send up high-altitude balloons and post videos on internet. Well-known examples include Toy Train in Space and Picard & Kirk in Space. ...
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Do any systems in space use Artificial Intelligence yet?

Technology has apparently advanced to the point some states in the Untied States are debating AI managed cars. The thought comes to mind that space is relatively less crowded than most streets on ...
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Have Mercury/Gemini/Apollo produced any unmanned descendants?

It is well known that Russian manned spacecrafts gave birth to multiple unmanned satellite projects (such as Bion spacecrafts, for example). Have Mercury/Gemini/Apollo spacecrafts or their direct ...