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27 votes
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Why did NASA close the space shuttle program?

This could be a book, but here's the tl;dr version: 1) The space shuttle system never lived up to its cost and performance goals. (See this question for background info.) 2) NASA shuttle management ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
24 votes

Why did NASA close the space shuttle program?

The vision which initiated the shuttle program was economic, routine, schedulable access to space. All other space launch systems involved single-use essentially hand-crafted vehicles making each ...
Anthony X's user avatar
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18 votes
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Is there a record for unbroken series of "successful launches" by some objective criteria? Who has it now? What has to happen for it to change hands?

UPDATE EDIT: SpaceX is absolutely crushing it. On 31 May 2023, they completed their 200th successive successful launch, and they are poised to reach 300 in Q1 of 2024. Despite the continuation of ULA'...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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12 votes

Are US Space companies favored to purchase subsystems from US only suppliers. Are there any specific laws that dictate this?

Gov't contracts often have a "Buy American" clause which requires them to buy from US companies or Trade Agreeement Act countries. See FAR Subpart 25.11, and 52.225-1, 52.225-3, and 52.225-5. See the ...
CrossRoads's user avatar
12 votes

Is there evidence whether SpaceX is making a profit launching rockets?

I doubt very much that you will be able to find any significant details about SpaceX profitability beyond the occasional vague or "aspirational" tweet from Musk. As you have pointed out ...
Slarty's user avatar
  • 9,792
12 votes

Is Blue Origin redundant?

Blue Origin and SpaceX have two very different goals. They also have very different development philosophies. Blue Origin's goal is to move loud, polluting, dirty, and otherwise undesirable heavy ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
11 votes
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Was a commercial (ad) balloon satellite ever deployed?

Yes, this was done during the EO-21 mission via a spacewalk from Mir in May 1996. The deployment was filmed (or videotaped) for use in a TV commercial. The balloon was not intended to be visible ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
11 votes
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California's rocket tax "by the mile", how would that work exactly?

The official draft It appears that "milleage" is in fact understood as "altitude": if a company can’t reveal the specifics of its mission due to confidentiality concerns — common with contracts ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 55.1k
11 votes

How were Intelsat 1 “Early Bird” and Telstar 1's "hundreds" of simultaneous telephone conversations multiplexed/demultiplexed?

It was done on the ground, and frequency-multiplexed. In this arrangement, 12 individual telephone channels are frequency-multiplexed into the 60 to 108 kc band as shown. Source: Results of the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
9 votes

Are US Space companies favored to purchase subsystems from US only suppliers. Are there any specific laws that dictate this?

Much of the rocket industry in the US has to deal with ITAR, a set of laws aimed at regulating the sale of weapons. Launchers are seen as weapons due to their ability (in principle) to deliver a ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
9 votes

What prompted all of those private launch companies to get into the business?

The internet happened. Specifically, young engineers (Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos) made gigantic piles of money (more than they could ever use in their original companies), and with that money they ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
9 votes
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Who designed the cool-looking Orbita Molniya tracking station at Khabarovsk? What does it look like inside?

The inner hall can be seen, for example, here. https://anthrax-urbex.livejournal.com/36886.html https://bu33er.livejournal.com/247978.html
A. Rumlin's user avatar
  • 7,863
8 votes

Why is private spaceflight suddenly expanding so quickly?

Because it's cheaper to design rocket now than it was before Relatively The world GDP doubled since the 2000's. Meaning we (humans) have more money to spend on rockets and expensive stuff, but also ...
Antzi's user avatar
  • 12.7k
8 votes

Are US Space companies favored to purchase subsystems from US only suppliers. Are there any specific laws that dictate this?

The only component that has any major political tie-ups is the RD-180 engine from Russia. Political tensions have made its future in the US rocket industry unclear The deal was signed in 1995 with ...
Machavity's user avatar
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8 votes

How were Intelsat 1 “Early Bird” and Telstar 1's "hundreds" of simultaneous telephone conversations multiplexed/demultiplexed?

Was it [the multiplexing] all done on the ground and the satellites were "bent pipes"? Even nowadays, almost all GEO satellites are "bent pipe", meaning that they re-transmit the ...
Ng Ph's user avatar
  • 2,749
7 votes

Were any Components Off The Shelf (COTS) used in the Space Shuttle?

Yes, Velcro is one example. Wheat Thins are another. Did you have some specific type of component in mind?
Organic Marble's user avatar
7 votes

What was the first space tourism company?

Pan Am accepted the first reservation for a flight to the Moon in 1964. Between 1968 and 1971, Pan Am issued over 93,000 “First Moon Flights” Club cards to space enthusiasts eager to make a ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
7 votes

Is Blue Origin redundant?

Is Blue Origin redundant? That's the intent. Both NASA and the Department of Defense want multiple providers for their launch systems. When there's only one provider for a given item, that one ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 75.2k
6 votes
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Are there other companies than Bigelow Aerospace planning to offer a space hotel?

Axiom Space, run by people with management and astronaut experience from the ISS, plans to have commercial customers in space by 2020. First with their module docked to the ISS, and when the ISS is ...
LocalFluff's user avatar
6 votes
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SpaceX's ITS as heavy lifter for Earth orbit

It is unclear at this point since everything has been only notional so far. Musk has said that they will try a 9 meter diameter, 21 engine interim ITS first now, (original was 12 meters, 42 engines). ...
geoffc's user avatar
  • 80k
6 votes

What prompted all of those private launch companies to get into the business?

Just to supplement @Hobbes' correct answer: The internet happened. Specifically, young engineers (Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos) made gigantic piles of money (more than they could ever use in their ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
5 votes

Were any Components Off The Shelf (COTS) used in the Space Shuttle?

www.nytimes.com/1998/11/05/laptops-on-the-shuttle-age-does-does-matter.html "To keep costs down, NASA has shifted to using off-the-shelf products as much as possible. So they bought dozens of I.B....
Brooks Nelson's user avatar
5 votes

How much would it cost to build an international commercial moonbase?

Since we don't have any moonbases yet, this is going to be difficult to answer. So the following will guesswork with a few bits of data in between. The only large-scale construction we've built in ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
5 votes
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What are the major expenses for a small spaceport?

The first expense is of course rent and taxes for the land the spaceport is on, after that there are a number of infrastructure maintenance expenses involved. A basic spaceport is going to have a lot ...
Josh King's user avatar
  • 2,469
5 votes

Are there any resources available on the moon that could make a base commercially viable?

By far the most abundant resource on the moon is Oxygen. It comprises a little less than 50% of all the material on the surface of the Moon, and some of it can be extracted reasonably easily. If large ...
Allyn Shell's user avatar
5 votes

Why is private spaceflight suddenly expanding so quickly?

Apart from the points money is readily available today compared to more than a decade ago (venture capital and in general exponential growth of money supply) computational costs related to design and ...
Everyday Astronaut's user avatar
5 votes

What prompted all of those private launch companies to get into the business?

I admit, I wasn't comfortable with the "internet geeks" part of the answer. So I've been doing some reading. And, sigh, I suppose there's something to it. I was wrong to suppose that someone fired a ...
Greg's user avatar
  • 4,287
5 votes
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How often are satellites in GEO moved to follow customer demand?

I have have been working for a while (almost 4 years..) as a Satellite Control & Operations Engineer. According to my experience, a satellite must be located and stayed inside a longitude box. An ...
Onur Gürdoğan's user avatar
5 votes

What does this NASA administrator's tweeted statement mean? What is the context?

Read: https://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2019/05/nasa-briefly-crew-dragon-anomaly-spacex-schedule/ NASA is waiting for progress on the Crew Dragon capsule (which exploded during an abort test in April ...
amI's user avatar
  • 720
5 votes
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How big will a space billboard have to be to be visible?

Suppose we start with @SE-stopfiringthegoodguys's answer of 1000 km orbit but instead of making it solid and darkly and diffusely reflective like the Moon (albedo only 0.15-ish) what if it produced ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k

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