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92 votes

What did the Soviet Union and Russia bring to the ISS?

Initially, everything. The ISS started out as Mir-2 with some extra modules added soon afterwards. Then lots more over the next 10 years. The initial modules, Zarya and Zvezda, which housed living ...
geoffc's user avatar
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43 votes
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What did the Soviet Union and Russia bring to the ISS?

The previous answer lists hardware components supplied by the Russians to the ISS. I would like to add the experience and knowledge that Russia brought to the project. The USA's experience was limited ...
Pavel Bernshtam's user avatar
42 votes
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What makes aluminum aerospace grade?

Read David Hammen's comment below the question. Once you get past the (well deserved) sarcastic humor he absolutely nails the answer. There is no checklist for getting an alloy of anything to be ...
BradV's user avatar
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40 votes
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Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

Rangers 3, 4, and 5 each had a seismometer encased in balsa wood to limit the impact loads.
Mark Adler's user avatar
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26 votes

What did the Soviet Union and Russia bring to the ISS?

In addition to the other answers, the docking system mounted on the Shuttle Orbiter itself was also supplied by the Russians. This system was used to dock with both ISS and Mir. Here's a picture I ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
20 votes
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Using bamboo as space construction material

This is a remarkably interesting exchange. I would like to add a few concerns (as an engineer, I go straight for the problems)... Full culm bamboo is a remarkably inefficient product to transport and ...
bambooprof's user avatar
15 votes
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What is "aerospace grade"?

If sometimes aerospace grade and non-aerospace grade parts are the same exact thing then what makes one aerospace grade and one not? Sometimes is the key word here. They happen to be the same, ...
David Hammen's user avatar
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14 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

I think that Soyuz launcher uses wooden parts in engine ignition process (proof link in Russian: https://geektimes.ru/post/273782/)
Pavel Bernshtam's user avatar
14 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

Many Mars landers have used heatshields made of cork powder in phenolic resin, including Viking and Schiaparelli. (ESA uses a material called Norcoat Liège, "liège" being French for cork.)
djr's user avatar
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13 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

A wooden Space Shuttle? Before the Space Shuttle ever flew, a lot of testing had to be done. Among the test items were the OV-101 (Enterprise), STA-099 (later OV-099, Challenger) and the Pathfinder (...
Aaganrmu's user avatar
  • 521
10 votes
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How to find the optimum balance between amount of fuel and number of engines?

In general, you want the minimum number/thrust of engines that gets you off the launch pad safely -- in the real world this is typically a TWR of 1.2-1.4. The TWR increases rapidly as fuel is used, so ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
10 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

In the mid 1970's China had a series of reconnaissance satellites called Fanhui Shi Weixing (FSW). These were designed pretty early on. They were recoverable and mostly used for mapping and internal ...
Johnny Robinson's user avatar
9 votes

What did the Soviet Union and Russia bring to the ISS?

Also let's not forget Mir-Shuttle program https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttle%E2%80%93Mir_Program The program was a rehearsal for the future ISS operations. It gained NASA the experience in many ...
Heopps's user avatar
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8 votes
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What was going to lift the components of Space Station Freedom?

It was planned to be launched piecemeal by the Shuttle. One of the first redesigns was to reduce the number of Shuttle missions required. NASA tried to reduce the number of Shuttle assembly ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
8 votes
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Expected differences between concrete prepared on the ISS and matched samples prepared on Earth?

Are there any expected differences between the concrete samples prepared on the ISS and the matched samples prepared on the Earth? The differences are expected but not foreseen in detail; the ...
SF.'s user avatar
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8 votes

What makes aluminum aerospace grade?

While it has been implicitly explained in other answers, I don't think it has been spelled out explicitly yet: what makes aluminium "aerospace-grade" has nothing to do with the aluminium ...
Jörg W Mittag's user avatar
7 votes

SpaceX CRS-7 failure because of a bad strut — is it a sign of bad structural design?

Two and a half years later, NASA investigation concluded that yes, there was a design error, although of a different nature than what was proposed in the question: NASA’s independent review team ...
Lesser Hedgehog's user avatar
7 votes

What is "aerospace grade"?

Materials science over centuries has known that materials properties can vary widely with subtle differences in composition, processing, heat treating, etc. Because aerospace products like aircraft ...
BradV's user avatar
  • 3,292
6 votes

Can Li-ion batteries replace parts of the physical structure of a spacecraft, such as the hull of a crewed spaceship?

The biggest argument against this is thermal control. Batteries are one of the most thermally sensitive components of spacecraft, and normally require careful thermal design to make sure they stay in ...
kert's user avatar
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6 votes
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Would an orbital scaffold or shipyard be useful?

It depends a lot on what capabilities this shipyard brings. One of the primary advantages could be in tremendous volume savings - by having a dedicated spot to do the majority of the spacecraft ...
fuchstraumer's user avatar
6 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

WISA Woodsat is made of regular plywood; dried in a thermal chamber but otherwise the same as you'd buy in a hardware store: WISA Woodsat is a 10x10x10 cm ‘CubeSat’ – a type of nanosatellite built up ...
Ludo's user avatar
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6 votes
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Is there any use for the "main body tool" of the BFR, now that the design has switched from carbon fiber to steel?

Around the 20th of March 2019 various news sources reported that SpaceX had scrapped the majority of its custom-built tooling for BFR. Now switching their focus completely to a stainless steel design. ...
Vincent B's user avatar
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6 votes

Won't any space battle fill up the system with supersonic lethal shrapnel, making space very dangerous?

What you are trying to define is known as Kessler Syndrome where a collision in space (your space battle example) generates shrapnel in orbit that then hits more satellites, breaking them up, which ...
geoffc's user avatar
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6 votes
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Cubesat surface material

Typically the outer layer of the spacecraft is chosen for thermal control reasons and for compatibility with UV exposure and atomic oxygen (depending on your altitude). Anodized aluminum or alodined ...
Sifu Yee's user avatar
  • 557
6 votes

What makes aluminum aerospace grade?

"Aerospace grade" is a marketing term that has no actual meaning. This means that there is no actual difference, in the material, at least theoretically. I think that the question and the ...
user47347's user avatar
6 votes

What is "aerospace grade"?

These days the term aerospace grade "has come to be a fashionable marketing slogan for luxury goods". Originally however, it had it's origins in specifications required for military ...
Fred's user avatar
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5 votes

Puzzler - which spacecraft(s) incorporated real wood structural elements?

The Apollo SLA had thin cork panels for insulating the LM. The roof of the LM looks to me to be perforated chipboard, like the back of an old tv, but i've no references to back that up :)
Innovine's user avatar
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5 votes

What's required to construct a space port on the Moon or Mars?

You need a flat surface, that is it. The Apollo lunar landers landed at the Moon, without any present infrastructure. The descent stage then served as a space port pocket edition. As a zero-...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
5 votes
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How much of a mixed blessing is cold welding?

Virtually everything that goes into space is assembled on earth first. Nothing (to my knowledge) is 'assembled later' in orbit using cold welding, as there's no guarantee the weld will be of ...
Ingolifs's user avatar
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5 votes

What is the largest single project (in tonnage) in which an international space cooperative has launched and or constructed in space?

The International Space Station, by far. The mass of the station varies with time, but it's around 420 tons It was constructed over the course of about 13 years, although it is still being tweaked ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
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