69 votes
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How (the heck) did Lunokhod 2 drive, navigate and survive a ~40 kilometer drive over four months on the Moon using 1970's technology?

A few interesting videos about the lunokhod rovers: Tank on the Moon The Lunokhod Rovers - It Happened in Space #7 Secret Soviet Lunar Rovers and Extra Terrestrial Cars - Lunokhod, Mars Rovers The ...
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66 votes

If human space travel is limited by the G force vulnerability, is there a way to counter G forces?

The problem isn't so much that humans cannot sustain high G forces for any extended length of time: The problem is that rockets cannot. If a rocket could sustain 1 g acceleration for a bit over a day, ...
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  • 62.9k
54 votes

Why are the recent flights of two billionaires discussed in terms of space travel?

Did they reach space? Branson: yes The Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo class craft "VS Unity" flew Branson up to 53.5 miles (86 kilometres). This altitude is considered "space" by the ...
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46 votes

If human space travel is limited by the G force vulnerability, is there a way to counter G forces?

Ignoring the major point that human tolerance of G forces is not the limiting factor on space travel, plenty of thought has been made on how to counteract G forces, not least by 60s sci-fi writers. ...
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  • 6,067
44 votes
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Why are spaceship capsules frustum shaped?

The capsules designed to reenter the atmosphere have to slow down from about 8 km/s to zero by the time they get to the ground. They actually don't use the part that looks like a cone to do that. They ...
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  • 20.8k
40 votes
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What are some of the obsolete technologies that space agencies used in day-to-day work during the 1960s?

Everything has changed in the last 50+ years. Every group working on space exploration had secretaries, lots and lots of secretaries, about one for every four to ten technical employees, plus many ...
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  • 62.9k
36 votes
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Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

I think you got it wrong: R-7 launches sometimes are also postponed due to weather. Just to name few examples: 18 December 2018, 9 March 2018, 22 April 2016 - Kouru; March 22, 2016 - Baikonur, 2 ...
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28 votes

Could liquid airlocks work?

The diagram you show would work only for specific instances. A few things that it relies on: Gravity is required for this to work, or else all of the liquid will escape. The diagram you show works ...
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  • 118k
28 votes

Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

This question is based on several serious misconceptions. R-7 launches never get postponed due to weather. Actually, they do. "The launch of the Soyuz 2-1A modernized carrier rocket, scheduled for ...
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27 votes
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Were decommissioned Cold War missiles repurposed for peaceful spaceflight?

Yes, definitely. For example: Taurus, now Minotaur-C first stage (US, Orbital Sciences Corporation), based on Peacekeeper ICBM first stage. 9 launches since 1994, out of which 3 failures. Minotaur I (...
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  • 75.2k
24 votes
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Is the technology behind the Shuttle's heat-shielding tiles used in any product today?

There's a Spinoffs from the Space Shuttle Program page hosted on the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center portal. According to it: Jewelry Design — Jewelers no longer have to worry about inhaling ...
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  • 75.2k
23 votes
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Has any piston machine been used on a space mission?

Apparently JWT uses piston pumps in its Cryocooler system: The only moving parts in the cryocooler are the two 2-cylinder horizontally opposed piston pumps in the CCA, and by having horizontally-...
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22 votes

Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

A 3D printer on station isn't likely to lead to direct cost savings; the range of items it can replace are limited, and it has to be supplied with feedstock mass in any case; it won't allow for ...
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21 votes
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Technology: How would a state-of-the-art space shuttle be built?

This could go many ways, depending on whether you mean a clean sheet design or incremental updates to STS. I'll assume the latter, in a parallel universe where the STS-107 accident never happened and ...
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21 votes

What are some of the obsolete technologies that space agencies used in day-to-day work during the 1960s?

I would say Core Rope Memory The Apollo Guidance Computer was one of the first computers to made use of integrated circuits. It was light and small enough (roughly 70 pounds) to fit in the CM. One of ...
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  • 1,064
19 votes

Do 3D printers in space stations mean a significant cost reduction?

The 3-D printer on the ISS is more for testing purposes than anything. The idea is that for really long duration missions, a 3-D printer will allow them to make something in case something breaks, or ...
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  • 118k
18 votes

Has any piston machine been used on a space mission?

Not sure that this is exactly what you seek, but the main pumps in the Space Shuttle hydraulic systems were "reciprocating piston variable displacement pumps". This type of pump was not ...
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17 votes

Has any CubeSat flown with an active propulsion system?

Yes, we know of a least one CubeSat that has flown (and is currently flying) with an active propulsion system. Specifically a steam powered warp drive. STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research and ...
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  • 7,078
16 votes
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Could 3D printing be used to achieve perfect grain geometry of solid and hybrid rocket motors?

Try looking at research done at The Aerospace Corporation, Penn State and Utah State. It turns out that there are very good reasons to print the fuel for hybrids. Adding a third dimension, beyond the ...
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16 votes

Why is there no POV video of the Philae lander landing?

According to this statement by the ESA, Rosetta is presently sending signals to the ground stations at about 28 Kbps; Ignacio says that the spacecraft's own telemetry downlink uses about 1 or 2 ...
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  • 7,186
15 votes

Is there any reason that NASA's launched space probes and MERs usually operate decades longer than expected?

The idea that NASA would intentionally under-represent the lifetimes of those (cherry-picked) missions implies that somehow they knew those lifetimes before launch. Nothing could be farther from the ...
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  • 57.4k
14 votes

Were decommissioned Cold War missiles repurposed for peaceful spaceflight?

There are also the Dnepr-1 rockets, made from converted R-36 missiles. One that launched in June 2014 delivered a payload of 37 satellites, making it the current record-holder for most satellites ...
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  • 20.8k
14 votes
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Could Von Neumann probes be forbidden by technological limitations?

There's no reason a Von Neumann probe could not be built once a civilization reaches the appropriate technology level, it's a matter of desire. When a civilization becomes advanced enough all it needs ...
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  • 18.7k
14 votes
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Where could we build a space elevator today (2014)?

Earth Carbon nanotubes might endure the enormous stress of an earth elevator but only short lengths have been manufactured so far. It would be a mega engineering project that would dwarf earlier ...
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14 votes
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Why do ISS astronauts use lower quality microphones for official radio communication than for PR events?

That blue box is a wired receiver unit for the wireless microphone (they currently use a Sennheiser handheld with SKP-100 wireless transmitter, but they did or still do use also products from other ...
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  • 75.2k
13 votes

Can spacecraft be made invisible to stations on Earth?

The key is that you don't need to make a satellite impossible to see (e.g. cooling it down to 20 Kelvin); You just need to make it harder to see. "Misty" is supposedly the codename of a stealth ...
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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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  • 15.9k
13 votes
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Could we deal with an asteroid threat given current technology?

At this point in time it seems doubtful that we could intercept and deflect an asteroid large enough to justify being deflected. This is simply a matter of momentum, a large asteroid has a great deal ...
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  • 4,133
12 votes
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Could a swarm of probes autonomously establish orbit around an asteroid?

Let's break your question into separate tasks: Autonomous orbit determination (autonomous because the DSN won't be there to help you when you need it) Autonomous attitude determination Situational ...
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  • 11.3k
12 votes

Why doesn't the USA use structurally stronger rockets for the more important launches?

Structural strength is not the only factor in rockets dealing with weather, they are already designed to withstand many Gs of acceleration carrying tons of explosive fuel. Flying through a cloud isn't ...
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  • 18.7k

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