All Questions

19
votes
2answers
6k views

How would an astronaut's hand react to a hard vacuum?

What would happen if an astronaut took his/her glove off in space but had the rest of their body completely sealed off? My guess is that the hand would start to boil or freeze depending on location.
12
votes
2answers
290 views

What, if any, plans have been made for handling events like a geomagnetic reversal?

Although a substantial changes in the Earth's magnetic field (e.g., as associated with a geomagnetic reversal where the magnetic field strength may be reduced to 5% of the current strength) are rare ...
12
votes
2answers
457 views

What is the status of concentrated solar energy (CSE) in space exploration?

The Cassini Environmental Impact Statement, Chapter 2 (page 53–54) describes the status of Concentrated Solar Energy in space: A 1981 conceptual study of the system impacts of using a concentrated ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Are Mercury/Apollo/Gemini capsules visible in any museum?

Is it possible to visit some of the famous American capsules in any museum?
10
votes
2answers
260 views

Have there been any official feasability studies into descending balloons into outer planetary atmospheres?

The Vega program included a balloon floating in the Venus atmosphere. It seems no more balloons have been used on other planets since then. The Wikipedia article on Aerobots mentions JPL feasibility ...
11
votes
2answers
17k views

“Failure is not an option” is really a quote of flight director Gene Kranz?

"Failure is not an option" is attributed to Gene Kranz, flight director of Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle missions. In the movie Apollo 13, Ed Harris says it but IMDB trivia states that it was not ...
8
votes
1answer
693 views

Is the Nudelman-Rikhter gun installed on Zvezda module?

By having a gun on board, one can conduct military kinds of experiments. Exploring armoring approaches for spacecraft, warning systems for the personnel, orbital ballistic studies for the multi-body ...
19
votes
4answers
854 views

Could any life from Earth survive in Enceladus' oceans?

Enceladus, the sixth-largest moon of Saturn, is probably unique in being the only body in our solar system besides Earth (and possibly Europa) to have significant amounts of liquid water. Most of this ...
15
votes
2answers
284 views

To what extent are the US modules of ISS based on the Spacelab design?

Various sources, for example the Spacelab wikipedia page, report that several modules used in American sector of the ISS are based on the Spacelab legacy. To what extent has its legacy been used? ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is it that during reentry phase a capsule cannot communicate with mission control?

During reentry phase into the Earth's atmosphere the heat produced by air friction does not allow any communication with the surface. Why does the heat interfere with electronic frequencies and ...
7
votes
1answer
246 views

What research has been done into using virtual reality to counteract the psychological effects of extended space travel?

One of the biggest challenges in long space flight is the psychological impact it has on the crew. I've seen a lot of research into preventing the effects, but what about "preventing" the cause ...
28
votes
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. ...
15
votes
1answer
905 views

Is there any reason why American spacesuits color changed over years?

From Mercury silver suits to orange Space Shuttle ones, color of space suits have changed over years. Is there any reason for it?
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Could a spacecraft be made out of lunar materials?

Would it be possible to construct a working spacecraft using only materials extracted from the lunar surface? If not, what materials would we have to be ferried from Earth for this purpose?
15
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it more efficient to assemble spacecraft in orbit, or assemble on the ground and launch?

My friends and I were trying to figure this out a while ago. I was thinking that by transporting smaller pieces into space via a lighter re-entry spacecraft, there would be overall less fuel used ...
19
votes
1answer
480 views

How much of the Interplanetary Transport Network is currently known?

The Interplanetary Transport Network is a network of mathematically-defined paths through our solar system that would require little to no energy for a spacecraft to follow them, albeit at very low ...
11
votes
3answers
340 views

What is the jurisdiction for contracts signed in space?

What would be the jurisdiction for contracts signed in space? Let's say, an american citizen runs company registered on Cyprus, and operates a space station launched from the territory of Kazakhstan....
43
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does the International Space Station produce so much methane?

According to NASA, roughly "1,000 pounds of methane are produced on International Space Station and dumped overboard as waste gas every year"[1]. It seems like an awful waste to just get rid of it. ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

Are there international regulations for launching objects into space?

In the United States access to space is restricted by the FCC / FAA, which licenses private, commercial, and government entities for potential launches into space. Is there any international ...
24
votes
2answers
2k views

What are the possible legal consequences of an unauthorized launch of a satellite?

Consider the situation, where the private company (let's say, registered on some Caribbean country, but owned by the citizen of United States) does the unauthorized launch of satellite or other ...
13
votes
3answers
574 views

Is there any research going on launching into orbit with “space guns”? Why (not)?

Many have said that rocket launches are an outdated and inefficient technology and have predicted that other technologies will take over, yet to date, it's still the only thing we have to launch into ...
23
votes
2answers
900 views

What medical conditions can impede someone from going into space?

Are there any physical, mental, or health-related medical conditions that could permanently exclude someone from going into space? Do the criteria differ from one country's (government sponsored or ...
13
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it possible that a giant 10th planet exists in our solar system? [closed]

It seems that some maintain the existence of a "planet X" is all but science fiction, while others claim that its existence is a possibility, even if that's a relatively remote one. Others take this ...
13
votes
4answers
534 views

What are the actual legal prerequisites for extracting natural resources from asteroids by private entities?

The Moon Treaty states that no extraterrestrial property can be owned by any organization or person, with the exception of international and governmental organization. So, taking the current state of ...
8
votes
2answers
327 views

Are there any significant differences in launch failure rates between different agencies/countries?

NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, and others, all have somewhat different cultures and attitudes when it comes to building and launching spacecraft. I don't have a source, but one anecdote I heard from someone ...
13
votes
3answers
5k views

What advantages do manned missions have over robot missions? [closed]

With robots that can run for years on nuclear batteries, and in some cases even perform basic repairs to themselves, they seem like pretty capable instruments for space exploration. Aside from the ...
23
votes
2answers
10k views

How long does a CubeSat last?

If I were to launch a CubeSat, how long would it last before falling out of orbit and burning up in the atmosphere?
28
votes
4answers
3k views

What will be NASA's successor to the Saturn V rocket?

The Saturn V rockets were the "tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds the record for heaviest payload launched and heaviest payload capacity to ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

How can I derive an asteroid mass/size estimate from JPL parameters?

I want a list of objects with a semi-major axis between 0.95 AU and 1.05 AU that are probably larger than 1 km in diameter. For this, the JPL Small-Body Database Search Engine seems to be the best ...
14
votes
4answers
3k views

How feasible is it to harvest isotopes of Helium or Hydrogen from the gas giants?

The gas giants in our solar system have abundant quantities of Helium and Hydrogen. Is it possible to harvest these resources there? Does NASA have any plans to build some permanent base in space for ...
11
votes
2answers
253 views

How much adjustment of position is required when making long flights through the solar system?

It is hard enough to exactly aim a rocket when you know all the forces on it, but on a long journey there must be any number of minor gravitational attractions to rocks and other mass in space, and ...
20
votes
1answer
627 views

Is there any ongoing research in nuclear pulse propulsion?

Nuclear pulse propulsion seemed to be quite actively researched up until the 1990's, with a few projects that saw some rather promising results (some that could theoretically reach over 4% light speed....
16
votes
2answers
526 views

How does the launch risk posed by plutonium compare to the launch risk posed by propellants?

For outer solar system exploration, virtually the only feasible power subsystem are Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). These include plutonium, which may carry considerable risks (see ...
13
votes
4answers
1k views

Have any countries laid claim to territory in space?

Have there ever been any cases of any countries or constituencies laying claim to any space territory? Is there any legal framework in place for such a claim (or indeed, to nullify such claims?)
20
votes
2answers
643 views

Is it possible to build a Dyson sphere or its variant in our solar system based on our current technology?

Dyson sphere, a concept coined by the physicist Freeman Dyson, is a solar megastructure built around our Sun to harvests most of the radiated energy from it. While this sounds impossible for now, ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

How much of a problem is space junk, and how can we clean it up?

A lot is heard about space junk these days, but how much of a problem is it really to orbiting satellites? Are there many cases of spacecraft being damaged by it, or is it a bit overhyped? Following ...
8
votes
1answer
494 views

What spaceship materials could naturally experience radioactive decay and transmute on a million year interstellar journey? [closed]

For extremely long journeys, deterioration of spaceship materials becomes a concern beyond mere rust or corrosion. Assuming a ship is sufficiently protected against radiation and other colliding ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

Are there any safe-to-launch alternatives to RTG's for outer solar system exploration?

In the past two decades, NASA has launched at least three missions that use RTG's: Cassini Mars Science Laboratory New Horizons Those launches include plutonium, which is a reason for some to oppose ...
20
votes
2answers
424 views

Is converting moon dust into oxygen a viable option for sustainability?

On the about page for Project Morpheus, the possibility of converting moon dust into oxygen is mentioned: It was manufactured and assembled at JSC and Armadillo Aerospace. Morpheus is large enough ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

What branches of mathematics are widely used in astrodynamics?

We knew that Voyager 1 and 2 exploited the gravitational slingshot from Saturn and Jupiter back in 70s, and the trajectories were predicted by Newton's laws of motion, and this law we used a lot in ...
18
votes
3answers
508 views

VLB interferometry in deep space - does it make sense for communication?

This is something I was thinking about right now when this beta was opened ... perfect! In radio astronomy, there is an technique which is called very long baseline interferometry. The idea is to ...
13
votes
1answer
596 views

At what travel distances are ion engines faster and more efficient than conventional fuel engines?

According to Scientific American (February 2009), ion engines start off slow, but build up speed as they travel. At what travel distance would an ion engine (such as an ion thruster, a Hall thruster, ...
18
votes
1answer
761 views

What is the South Atlantic Anomaly, and what can I do to protect satellites from it?

I've heard of something called the South Atlantic Anomaly (SAA), which seems to have a lot of Low Earth Orbit Satellite Operators quite worried. What is it, and how can I protect my spacecraft against ...
18
votes
1answer
600 views

How could we observe the Oort cloud, if it exists?

The oort cloud has long been hypothesized as being around a light year away from the sun, but no observations have yet been made. Is it completely impractical with current science to make such an ...
19
votes
1answer
2k views

Optimal placement of 4 reaction wheels?

What is the optimal orientation to place 4 reaction wheels, such that complete 3 axis control can be maintained at all times?
14
votes
1answer
681 views

How does NASA keep radiation from frying rovers?

I know that on Mars, radiation levels are quite high (turns out lack of an atmosphere does that). On the rovers that are sent to Mars, etc. How is radiation kept from playing havoc with the rover's ...
8
votes
3answers
513 views

What creative orbital maneuvers might I do to save fuel for a geosynchronous spacecraft?

I've heard that there might be some creative ways to get to Geosynchronous Orbit that could save a lot of fuel. How might I manage to make this happen?
44
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is the Shuttle Landing Facility runway surrounded by water?

The runway at the Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida has a unique feature that looks rather intentional: it is surrounded by "moats" or "canals". They certainly look man-made, so I presume this is ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

What technological barriers, if any, prevent a manned mission to Mars at this time?

Is the technology currently in place to launch a manned mission to Mars (and is it thus just a resource constraint that's preventing such a mission from occurring), or are there still other ...
26
votes
3answers
2k views

What science are the Voyager missions still doing after so many years away from the Solar System?

I know that the Voyager missions were launched years ago, and are quite a long way out there. With the problem of communications taking forever to get to the probe and back, what are we currently ...

15 30 50 per page