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56 votes
Accepted

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

It is still way too early to make such a judgement. It's easy to be overly optimistic about the cost of a program. The Space Shuttle was supposed to have dozens of flights each year and be super-...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 48k
55 votes
Accepted

Was "Apollo" an acronym for "America’s Program for Orbiting Lunar and Landing Operations"?

From a pre-launch press release for Apollo 11: Among the many missions conceived at that time was a manned journey to the Moon and back. Dr. Silverstein himself named it "Apollo" after one ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
42 votes
Accepted

How do US citizens vote in space?

The relevant law is Texas Administrative Code Rule §81.35 "Voting from Outer Space" and who's going to vote against that? It is a very small modification of Texas early voting law. (a) A ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 8,016
38 votes
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Why do Space X starship launches need permission from the FAA?

Because it's required by law (51 USC Ch. 509: Commercial Space Launch Activities) and by FAA regulations (14 CFR Chapter III - Commercial Space Launch Activities, Federal Aviation Administration, ...
David Hammen's user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

Why does the U.S. military maintain their own weather satellites?

Note: This answer is based on a source from 2001. It provides a lot of background as a historical overview, but it does not take into account recent changes in the program. Please review the end of ...
called2voyage's user avatar
  • 23.7k
28 votes

What does space have to do with providing "fresh water ... without the need for aquifers or pipes?" as Steven Kwast suggested?

The speech is available in full here: https://dc.hillsdale.edu/News/Latest-News/The-Urgent-Need-for-a-U-S-Space-Force/ It's extremely general and non-technical. He talks about getting water from the ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
27 votes

Why do Space X starship launches need permission from the FAA?

To expand a bit on David Hammen's answer, the reasons for the regulations requiring FAA permits for rocket launches are related to public safety (or sometimes the egos of bureaucrats, but mostly ...
reirab's user avatar
  • 1,639
23 votes
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Which regulatory agency (if any) is in charge of investigating civilian rocket anomalies?

FAA again. They license all commercial launches, and are responsible for investigating. The FAA has officially grounded New Shepard, pending review. They will also oversee the investigation. ...
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
20 votes

Did/does the US use statute or nautical miles to decide who gets astronaut wings?

According to an authoritative-sounding post on collectspace here, it's statute (which matches my recollection). Edit: OP @costrom found an FAA document Fact Sheet – Commercial Space Transportation ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
19 votes
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Is it correct that the US wants to form a new branch in the US Military as US Space Force?

I read in the news sometimes ago that Mike Pence proposed to form a new division in the US Army as US Space Force. It's not just Mike Pence. It's also Donald Trump, and also members of Congress. The ...
David Hammen's user avatar
18 votes

Why does the U.S. military maintain their own weather satellites?

The specific needs of the military may not be served by civilian weather satellites. Specifically, the DMSP started as a classified program that supported the Corona spy satellite program. Its ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
18 votes
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How close was the U.S. DoD to getting their own space shuttle?

The plan was not for the Department of Defense to have an additional Orbiter built for it. Instead, the Orbiter Discovery (OV-103) was to be dedicated for DOD use and based at the Vandenberg launch ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
18 votes

Did/does the US use statute or nautical miles to decide who gets astronaut wings?

Are these statute miles (1609.344 m, 5280 ft) or nautical miles (1852 m, 6076-ish ft)? TL;DR Neither. Or rather, it is 50 statute miles, but a statute mile is not 1609.344 meters. That is the length ...
David Hammen's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Russian "kerosene" versus American "RP-1"

Both the Russian and American space programs use a refined kerosene; the Russian version is called RG-1 and is slightly denser than RP-1. RG-1 and RP-1 formulations are generally interchangeable; ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
17 votes

How do US citizens vote in space?

As explained in video description of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Emsf_udovU the voting is done electronically Most U.S. astronauts live in Houston. Texas law ...
samcarter_is_at_texnique.fr's user avatar
17 votes

Which regulatory agency (if any) is in charge of investigating civilian rocket anomalies?

NTSB and FAA share responsibility You have great timing! Five days ago, FAA and NTSB signed an agreement on this exact issue. You can read the full text of the agreement here (PDF) and the NTSB's ...
Andrew Breza's user avatar
15 votes

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

Eh, to begin with this statement isn't accurate. SpaceX ... has the same capabilities if not better? Falcon Heavy as stands can't replace SLS and launch Orion on the required orbit without ...
Barry Jenakuns's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

What does space have to do with providing "fresh water ... without the need for aquifers or pipes?" as Steven Kwast suggested?

The article says that the page has been adapted from Kwast's speech, so it's possible someone transcribed something wrong or misunderstood. Taking an excerpt: With the right vision and strategy for ...
GdD's user avatar
  • 20.3k
13 votes
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Why do Astro/Cosmonauts refer to things as Russian or American?

It is because the two programs are separately managed and tracked to an extent that would astound the outsider. USOS crewmembers theoretically would have to ask for permission to use a Russian ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
13 votes
Accepted

Why does this "Midas missile early warning satellite" have a tilting cone with such a complex black-and-white checkerboard pattern?

This is a two component question: Why the tilted cone? Why the complex checkerboard pattern? The Angled Cone Answer: The tilted cone is the rotating sensor telescope From https://space.skyrocket.de/...
Woody's user avatar
  • 22.1k
13 votes

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

All the answers are right in their own way. One thing that is not addressed: The Falcon Heavy is not even remotly on par with the SLS in terms of rocket diameter and payload mass. According to ...
CKA's user avatar
  • 546
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

Why does the government still fund SLS while SpaceX is cheaper and has the same capabilities if not better?

Part of it is leveling employment. The government is fond of large projects that require multi-year ramp-up and ramp-down and massive up/down swings in employment need. Suppose in 2019 you're hiring ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
12 votes

What is the lowest-inclination orbit ever achieved by a US crewed spacecraft?

Of the missions I've been able to find orbital data for, STS 49 has the lowest inclination, at 28.32 degrees (from Space Shuttle Missions Summary). However, I haven't been able to find inclination ...
Mark's user avatar
  • 15.3k
12 votes
Accepted

What is the lowest-inclination orbit ever achieved by a US crewed spacecraft?

@Mark's answer hints that the Apollo mission, in particular Apollo 11, may have achieved a lower inclination. I was going to quickly query Horizons and leave a comment, but the comment space is not ...
Ludo's user avatar
  • 14.4k
11 votes
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What Soviet signals (if any) attempted to scramble communication and sabotage Apollo missions?

The Americans did worry about the possibility of Soviet interference. The navigation computer was could be updated from the ground, but this was only done after confirmation via a voice channel: ...
Hobbes's user avatar
  • 128k
11 votes
Accepted

Can I make a completely ITAR-free spaceship?

No Here's what ITAR says about launch vehicles Category IV - Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines (a) Rockets, space launch vehicles (...
Machavity's user avatar
  • 7,905
11 votes

Was "Apollo" an acronym for "America’s Program for Orbiting Lunar and Landing Operations"?

Some early rocket programs: Mercury Gemini Saturn Apollo Atlas Thor Juno Athena Jupiter There's a definite naming pattern...
RonJohn's user avatar
  • 1,102
11 votes
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How many politically appointed positions are there at NASA in toto?

There are four positions in NASA that require Senate confirmation: Administrator, Deputy Administrator, Chief Financial Officer, and Inspector General. Even though Inspectors General do need ...
David Hammen's user avatar

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