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The influence of space weather on the space crafts` launches


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The influence of space weather on the space crafts` launches. Does space weather on the space crafts` launches and do scientists check it before space crafts go to space? I know there is such a fact like space turbulence and it can influence a space craft, but can space weather?

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pinging @Arrowstar

I think the only real danger is launching crewed missions during periods of high solar activity and increased radiation risk, but I think I recall Tory Bruno mentioning something on twitter at some point about solar flux in relation to uncrewed ships. It's a very distant bell ringing in my head tho - could be wrong

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13 hours ago, Drew Kerman said:

pinging @Arrowstar

I think the only real danger is launching crewed missions during periods of high solar activity and increased radiation risk, but I think I recall Tory Bruno mentioning something on twitter at some point about solar flux in relation to uncrewed ships. It's a very distant bell ringing in my head tho - could be wrong

Yeah, you`ve made a good point. I found out that solar activity can affect on a space craft. I'd have to say yes since I'd guess that something like a period with a strong solar storm would seem to be a poor choice for a launch window since it affects if not the craft, at least the ability to track/communicate with the craft.

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10 hours ago, bearnard1244 said:

Yeah, you`ve made a good point. I found out that solar activity can affect on a space craft. I'd have to say yes since I'd guess that something like a period with a strong solar storm would seem to be a poor choice for a launch window since it affects if not the craft, at least the ability to track/communicate with the craft.

I don't think normal space weather is anywhere near enough to hinder communications with an Earth-orbiting or really any spacecraft. I don't think even the Voyager probes have had major comms outages because of solar flux interfering. If something very energetic hit Earth, for instance a massive coronal mass ejection, enough to disrupt satellite comms, I think society would be too busy burning to the ground to really worry about their satellite launches.

Solar wind does influence spacecraft, it's the guiding principle behind solar sails. Interestingly, this can be used in other ways, for instance the stabilization vanes on Mariner 4.

1-mariner4toma.jpg

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"Both Echo 1A and Echo 2 experienced a solar sail effect due to their large size and low mass.[8] Later passive communications satellites, such as OV1-08 PasComSat, solved the problems associated with this by using a grid-sphere design instead of a covered surface. Later yet, NASA abandoned passive communications systems altogether, in favor of active satellites. "

Yes, space weather does influence spaceships. During periods of high solar activity, our atmosphere receives more energy from the Sun, and consequently "swells". It can impact orbits of satellites in LEO, sometimes shortening their lifespan noticeably.

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3 hours ago, Clamp-o-Tron said:

I don't think even the Voyager probes have had major comms outages because of solar flux interfering.

The Voyager probes did reportedly have kitchen-grade aluminum foil installed over their electronics to protect against Jupiter's magnetosphere. 

If a sufficiently strong solar storm were to occur and a probe was not sufficiently protected, it would be at risk of electrical failures. However, storms of that magnitude occur rather infrequently. As for mechanical wind, it wouldn't be enough of a factor that a rocket burn couldn't compensate for it. It only becomes an issue after prolonged periods without station-keeping.

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The only really hazardous "space weather" are CME events. Which we are incapable to predict more than a few hours in advance, at best, so no, we don't really plan for it.
Unmanned spacecrafts use radiation hardened hardware where that matters, and it is usually enough. Solar panels can be quite sensitive, so they need to be "turned away" when a CME happen.
But it all depends on where the craft is. The closer it is to Earth, the higher the magnetopshere protection is.

This is a huge issue for manned spaceflight though.
While it is possible to design "radiation bunkers" where the crew can hide during CMEs, the fact that we can hardly predict them make them very hazardous.
For example, the plan for the Apollo missions regarding CMEs was basically "just hope there won't be any".

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1 hour ago, Gotmachine said:


For example, the plan for the Apollo missions regarding CMEs was basically "just hope there won't be any".

Space by James Michener was a good, if long read. It included (spoiler alert)

Spoiler

a hypothetical Apollo 18 mission to the Far Side that was caught out when a large sunspot group came around the sun,  giving the moonwalking duo a lethal dose of radiation before they could get back to the relative safety of the CSM.

 

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