Friday, April 24, 2015

Is this a spacecraft?

This is not a pipe. (It is a picture of a pipe)
Is this a picture of a spacecraft?
I have discussed my rocketometer project on this blog in depth before. That's it, the purple board in the picture above. I think I can lay claim to it being a full-blown spacecraft.

  • It has structure. 
  • It has command/data handling. 
  • It has a science payload with multiple instruments. 
  • It has independent power - it is charged from the rocket payload, but carries its own battery and is capable of operating for the whole mission from launch through recovery. In fact, it did operate on its own power during entry and descent. From the point of view of the Rocketometer, the external power system is ground support equipment.
  • It is capable of operating in the vacuum and freefall of space. If it were magically transported into orbit, it would operate for at least a little while (it lacks thermal control). 
  • It lacks propulsion and recover, but so do many spacecraft. 

The biggest strike against it is that it was bolted inside another spacecraft. How many other systems in the rocket would I count as a spacecraft under this same definition?

The other biggest strike is that it has no telecom system. I know of spacecraft which have been flown with transmitters but no receivers, but the only spacecraft I can think of that had neither were things like Echo, Lageos, and Starshine. Do those count as spacecraft?

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