Questions tagged [design]

Questions about how space vehicles and related hardware are designed. See also [structural-design] and [engine-design].

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How did Gagarin's flight affect improvements to the Vostok capsule?

Every spaceflight is an opportunity to learn what does not work well and to improve the vehicle for the next flight. Did Yuri Gagarin's first human spaceflight yield any changes to the capsules or ...
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Pressurant gas line design considerations

I am trying to understand the constraints on pressurant gas line sizes and lengths. For a static volume, the lines can be small in diameter because there is no significant flow velocity and therefore ...
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Why does the RD-0110 Injector have a larger cone spray angle in the outer element rather than the inner element?

Wouldn't a large cone spray angle in the inner element (oxidizer) impinge with the outer element spray cone (fuel) and facilitate better atomization and mixing? Here are the RD-0110 Injector specs:
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Could an orbital launcher look like a scaled up Nike Hercules?

We now have flyable, recoverable suborbital boosters, which would be the first stage. The second stage of the Saturn V rocket was able to hurl the 100 ton Skylab into an orbit over 250 miles high. ...
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Why are strap-on boosters more often attached radially in Eastern-European/Asian rockets, and bilaterally in Western-European/American rockets?

While comparing launch vehicles with strap on boosters, it appears to me that the majority of Eastern-European/Asian vehicles arrange the boosters radially, but the Western-European/American vehicles ...
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What do large, modern communications satellites look like inside?

Modern communications satellite in GEO are big, majestic beasts. They are quite large and voluminous. They can sport quite an array of antennas and handle huge bandwidths and multiple communications ...
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How efficient was Telstar's solar cell configuration, compared to a flat panel?

Telstar was a series of communication satellites first launched in 1962. The body of the satellite is roughly spherical, with much of the outer surface covered in solar cells. This gives the ...
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Which explode in spaceflight more often, nuts or bolts?

The history of spaceflight is littered with exists because of exploded nuts and bolts (and upon further reflection, a whole lot of other items!) "Exploding bolts" is really a generic term. ...
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What technologies enable or at least help satellite operation in Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO)?

This answer to How low is VLEO? (FCC's newest approval for SpaceX) suggests VLEO begins (or ends I guess) at 350 km. The two bad things I know about in VLEO are an enhanced rate of altitude loss due ...
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How will the future Mars Space Suit Helmet design protect Astronauts from Martian Radiation?

Mars Space Suit Helmet Visor's were mostly made up of polycarbonate [1], the same material used for EMU's visor for performing EVA in earth orbit. Meanwhile, Mars' radiation is 2.5x higher. How are we ...
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How to select appropriate orbital rocket stage thrust?

I’ve been working on a preliminary design of a small-lift launch vehicle capable of sending a small satellite into LEO. Given the required $\Delta v$ (~9 km/s for LEO), the mass distribution, ...
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What is the maximum force a deep space spacecraft experiences after launch?

The premise of How much of a deep space spacecraft's structural mass is useless dead weight after launch? Any plans to shed it in the future? is that the forces a deep space spacecraft experiences ...
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How much of a deep space spacecraft's structural mass is useless dead weight after launch? Any plans to shed it in the future?

After seeing this in Security SE Magnetic core memory isn't quite extinct yet. The two Voyager spacecraft used it and are still functional. Core was/is certainly non-volatile. I did some ...
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Where can I read about Lucy's complete propulsion system?

Wikipedia's /Lucy (spacecraft) says nothing of propulsion, and it's SWRI home page for the spacecraft http://lucy.swri.edu/mission/Spacecraft.html gives specification and enumerates what's on Lucy’s ...
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How do all the struts and crosses in the Orion Crew Capsule Service Module work together? What do each of these parts do?

The BBC's Europe to make more hardware for American Moon missions says that three more service modules for the Orion Crew Capsule have been ordered by NASA, bringing the total desired to six. I ...
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How big could a rocket get?

What are the practical limitations on the size of Earth based, orbital rockets? How tall/heavy might we make a rocket? For the purposes of this question, I'm mostly interested in rockets using ...
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How to make a model rocket that doesn't spin?

I'm attempting to build a rocket with 8 fins (four on bottom and four smaller ones towards the top). The four fins near to the top will be attached to servo motors and programmed to stabilize or guide ...
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How redundant are Orion's power and data units (PDUs)? Doubly? Quadruply? If so, why?

In the news today: NASA to skip repair of Orion electronics unit NASA will fly Orion deep-space crew capsule ‘as is,’ despite failed component; The agency claims there is enough redundancy in the ...
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Docking cubesat in orbit - is it possible?

Would it be plausible to launch two or more cubsat's into orbit, and then have them dock together, allowing them to pack on more hardware and even fuel, broadening their capability? If it is possible, ...
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What should be the shape of a rocket going to Mars, since Mars atmosphere is around 2 percent of that of Earth's?

What should be the design or shape of a rocket going to mars?
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What is the Starship forward dome?

What is the Starship forward dome? How does it look like? What other parts are connected to it and what is it good for?
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What was this strange design for the Man In Space Soonest program?

The following picture shows various spacecraft design proposals for the 1958 U.S. Air Force Man In Space Soonest program: The bottom row depicts various spaceplanes, which should not be a surprise ...
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Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

Space News's Human error blamed for Vega launch failure Analysis of the telemetry from the mission, along with data from the production of the vehicle, led them to conclude that cables to two thrust ...
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How to get started with CubeSats

I am new both to CubeSats and to Stack Exchange. I have recently started studying and planning on how to build a CubeSat, as cheaply as possible. I have read some blog posts and watched some videos, ...
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MT-135 Sounding Rocket info / design

I'm searching for any design file or deep-info on the MT-135 rocket, the fuel used, engines, engines info, any thing really. I have deep-searched on tons of sites but I just find few missions that ...
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Finding the mass flow rate of a blowdown system?

This is a rather amateur question I will admit but how does one find the mass flow rate of an engine with a given tank pressure? Is it really as simple as calculating the cross-section of all plumbing,...
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What's the status and timeline for Millimetron? (Russia's 10m Deployable Antenna cooled to 6 K Earth-Space VLBI)

Comments below an answer to How does NASA's ASTHROS stratospheric telescope compare to its James Webb space telescope? link to JPL's Paul F. Goldsmith's The Renaissance of High Resolution ...
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Do space suit designers exist?

I was just having a closer look at the new space-suits by SpaceX, that were worn by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (image below this question). The design made me wonder about who may ...
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Why are the SpaceX Starship, “rings” the width that they are?

Why are the SpaceX Starship, "rings" the width that they are? Wouldn't creating the rings from SS that's twice as wide reduce the welding by half?
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What are the most common practical design specifications for antenna in space?

I'm writing my thesis on antennas for small satellite applications (cubesats). Apart from the electrical specifications related to the particular application there are also several other "...
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Have there been any square 4U (2x2) cubesats?

How much did each MarCO 6U cubesat weigh? suggests that the density of a MarCO 6U cubesat might be as low as 0.75 g/cm^3 whereas I think they are usually about twice that. That led me to speculate ...
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How much did each MarCO 6U cubesat weigh?

Yes the answer is zero now because they are weightless, but I used past tense. In any event, let's try to find a good, reliable source for each spacecraft's mass and whether that number is dry or ...
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Essential sensors for cubesat ADCS

We are building a 3U satellite to orbit Earth and measure space debris. Between gyroscope, GPS, IMU, magnetometer, Sun sensors and star tracker, which would be essential sensors for the ADCS? Or ...
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Why do Ingenuity's legs differ?

In the pictures below, I notice that not all of the legs of Ingenuity are the same (look at the end of them, directly touching the surface). It looks like a single one is different than the other 3. ...
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How to design heatshield bluntness?

How is the bluntness or curvature of a heat shield of a reentry spacecraft designed? If the answer depends on size and mass, consider a deep space sample return "mini capsule" 50 cm in ...
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Are there any uncrewed spacecraft that maintain(ed) an atmosphere?

In How do phonesats stay cool? I wonder if phonesats might have had "cabin pressure" to keep the phones from overheating since they are not designed for space. But now I'm just wondering if ...
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Why are stages not connected by the engine nozzle? Why are interstages used?

First, a clarification: I understand the aerodynamic reasons that interstages are used, and I understand that the shockwaves that would be generated without an interstage would wreck the rocket. My ...
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Why put chromium on the back side of this JPL-designed solar sail?

This 2013 JPL presentation Solar System Escape Architecture for Revolutionary Science March 2013 Conference NIAC Phase 1: 2012-2013 by PI: Jeff Nosanov Co-Is: Dr. Daniel Grebow, Dr. Brian Trease, John ...
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Could the kinetic energy in the Sun's solar wind power an ion propulsion system for an interplanetary spacecraft?

I am wondering if the kinetic energy of the Sun's solar wind could energize heavy ions to the point in which they would produce enough momentum to propel an interplanetary spacecraft. To help ...
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What criteria influence launcher aspect ratio?

One factor when designing a launcher is the total $\Delta V$ required. For a given $\Delta V$, engineers can define the propellant quantity. From this quantity they can define the volume of the ...
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How did SpaceX's VisorSat work? How did the sunshade articulate to shade parts of Starlink satellite as it orbits the Earth?

CNET's Elon Musk wants SpaceX to launch the next generation of space telescopes says: The billionaire entrepreneur said that "VisorSat" satellites equipped with a sunshade to block ...
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Balancing Perseverance Mars Rover; couldn't they just “move stuff around a little” rather than add 6+ kg of dead weight?

The NASA News item NASA's Perseverance Mars Rover Gets Balanced says: Just as an auto mechanic places small weights on a car tire's rim to bring it into balance, the Perseverance team analyzed the ...
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How is Cryogenic fuel kept… Cryogenic in rockets [duplicate]

How is cryogenic fuel & oxidizer kept at cryogenic temperatures in rockets? I am mostly interested in the first stage of launch vehicles rather than something like a Centaur that keeps hydrolox ...
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rocket engine design

Do we need to preheat both the fuel e.g. LH2, and the oxidizer e.g. LOX, by running conduits around the nozzle? I presume both being cryogenic, preheating would be a must otherwise, engines will have ...
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(Possibly fictional) Can you locate this mysterious Project Orion design with NERVA engines as RCS?

Some years ago, I happened to see a drawing of a hypothetical Project Orion (the Nuclear Pulse Propulsion one) type spaceship, that had the notable (and highly questionable, IMO) feature of having a ...
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Why were the openings of the LiOH canisters in Apollo different shapes in the first place?

Many of you probably know the famous "square peg in a round hole" situation on Apollo 13. All three astronauts were in the LM and there was a build up of CO2 from the astronauts exhaling. They had to ...
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Why does the Perseverance rover have such complicated shaped spokes in its wheels?

Phys.org's NASA's Perseverance Mars rover gets its wheels and air brakes has some interesting photos includes some nice photos and below I've included a cropped section of a photo of one of ...
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Bipropellant RCS systems: Do they go together with docking? Or with manned spaceflight?

In a recent discussion, I asked about using a certain bipropellant system for RCS thrusters (I was actually thinking about it as fuel for an MMU jetpack or the "scooter" commonly imagined in science ...
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Are black and white stripes any better than uniform gray for thermal control?

Q: What color is a spaceship? Several answers and comments on Why were Europe's first few satellites so stylish? Why the pronounced alternating white and black stripes? contain phrases like "...
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What is the load path for thrust in a rocket engine? [duplicate]

This may be a duplicate of this question but I wasn't sure if I could hijack that one to clarify or regenerate interest there. What is the distribution of axial force in a combustion chamber? My ...

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