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 ...
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  • 76.4k
49 votes

What exactly makes a bolt "aerospace grade"?

Disclaimer: I worked as an aerospace engineer for 15 years for the USAF. Our organization managed the 53 Federal Stock Group (1) (among others), which includes Bolts, Screws, etc. By this I mean to ...
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43 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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39 votes
Accepted

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.
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  • 57.5k
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 ...
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20 votes
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How fair is the claim that Shuttle boosters diameter was dictated by the railroad gauge?

The claim may be based on a misunderstanding. The solid rocket boosters were made in Utah and transported to the launch site in 4 segments by rail, which did limit their size. But it was not the track ...
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20 votes
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What makes aluminum aerospace grade?

Read David Hammen's comments below the opening 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 ...
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  • 1,751
19 votes
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Would unpainted iron or steel rust in space?

"Rusting", or more chemically correct "oxidation", is a reaction with oxygen in the atmosphere. Iron reacts with oxygen and turns into iron oxide, the reddish-brown substance commonly referred to as "...
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  • 9,136
19 votes

What exactly makes a bolt "aerospace grade"?

Parts for use in aircraft have to be certified. This means they need to be produced from standardized materials, using a standardized and traceable process. The part must be checked thoroughly during ...
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  • 121k
18 votes

What exactly makes a bolt "aerospace grade"?

While not a matter of materials science, my A&P gave me his explanation of the subject when my plane was in for annual: Mechanic: These two screws are identical. This one comes from Home Depot ...
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  • 281
18 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

No, it couldn't. The Curiosity rover is 2.9 meters by 2.7 meters by 2.2 meters. It's tiny little scoop is 7 centimeters by 4.5 centimeters by 2 centimeters (or so; I can't find a reference on the ...
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  • 62.9k
16 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 ...
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13 votes

Realistic space battle, how it could looke like? No hollywood version or videogames like

I would like to firstly echo the suggestion to read Project Rho. Throughout the entire site, there is a tremendous amount of hard science and it is all deeply entertaining. http://www.projectrho.com/...
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  • 16k
13 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.)
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  • 1,625
13 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/)
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12 votes
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Structural composition of shuttle liquid fuel tank wall

You might be confusing it with the balloon tanks used by the original Atlas and the Centaur upper stage. The Shuttle external tank was not a balloon tank - it did not need to be pressurized to be ...
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  • 9,919
11 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 (...
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  • 501
10 votes

On building future sustainable Mars habitat

Yes, eventually, but we would first have to establish structural stability of any such rocks, get a sense of Martian subsurface seismic activity, seasonal changes to its thermal characteristics, how ...
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  • 75.3k
10 votes

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

No, it's indicative of insufficient Quality Assurance (QA), which is supposed to prevent defects, not of bad design. I'm not sure what Factor of Safety (FoS) is used for Falcon 9 struts in question, ...
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  • 75.3k
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 ...
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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 ...
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9 votes

Why aren't orbital vehicles made of plastic?

The reason is quite simple. Plastics have a lower specific strength (strength to weight ratio) than metal alloys, which in turn have a lower specific strength than various carbon composites. There are ...
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  • 4,133
9 votes
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Why won't this configuration of fins work?

The purpose of the fins is to keep the rocket on course. When your rocket goes off course, the rocket body is off-axis relative to the rocket's velocity vector. This means the side of two fins is ...
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  • 121k
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 ...
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  • 8,446
8 votes

Could Curiosity dig itself a burrow?

It probably could, but with its wheels, not with the drill on its robotic arm. But why would it do that? The Curiosity rover has independent drive on all six of its wheels so technically all it would ...
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  • 75.3k
8 votes

How fair is the claim that Shuttle boosters diameter was dictated by the railroad gauge?

There's a forum post here that has some interesting information: Well, there was SOME justification for the decision to cast the propellant in Utah-- the cool dry climate there, especially the low ...
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  • 121k
8 votes

Folding structures in space - What are the potential benefits and problems?

This is done by necessity, all the time, for solar panels. There are also large deployable antennas used for communication satellites and soon for the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission. NASA ...
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  • 57.5k
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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 52.4k
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 ...
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