Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

30 April 2011

Something new

While waiting for Rassvet and the payload of STS 134 to be released by Alfonso to finish the ISS diorama, something new is taking shape on PK's desk. PK just can't sit still.

It's a slope of five degrees placed in an angle on this square board.
The title will be "The 5º slope to the stars" and will depict Shuttle Columbia with its boosters and white ET upon the Mobile Launch Platform and Crawler being carried to Pad 39A for the start of STS-1 in april 1981.
All of it is scratched up 'til now. I am a bit bad at maths and stuff with numbers so I just use my ruler and pencil. The base will be filled with plaster and the card strips are here for getting the lines all right.

Here's a sketch I made earlier:
It should end up something like this. 
This is also the first time I try something more with a base than just it being a base. This slope is placed in an angle on the board and since the crawlerway has slopes, it also has some complex structures to make if you do it just with the ruler and a pencil. Since this is something new I will post progress on this blog here.

The shuttle stack, MLP and Crawler will be a very downscaled version of the models designed by Alfonso Moreno, you can find them on AXM (in the sidebar is a link)

21 April 2011

Credits for whom?

Isn't is a little bit strange that so many people attribute certain (joint) efforts in space industry to one person? How many times did I read or hear people saying Wernher von Braun 'made' the Saturn rocket?

Oh yes, he designed the concept but he didn't actually really design the separate rocket stages. He had a very big hand in designing the Saturn 1 (and 1b) first stage that was built by Chrysler, who also made the Redstone. After all, the Redstone was Von Braun's, it being a distant cousin of the A4 (or V2).
But the Saturn V as it came to be was mainly designed by three separate aircraft companies: Boeing (S1C), North American (SII and spacecraft) and Douglas (SIVb). The conceptual idea and supervision might have been by Von Braun but the actual design and manufacturing of the stages was done by others. In parts it even was an evolutionary process, like in the third stage, the Douglas SIVb. When the design phase of the Saturn V started they didn't even know yet whether to use Earth Orbit Rendez-vous or Lunar Orbit Rendez-vous. That choice had some big influences on the appearance of the definitive model. Wernher von Braun might have had the first ideas and a lot to say about the design but in the end it was a very joint effort.
So why is it that people often speak of "Von Braun's Saturn V"? We never speak of Karel Bosschaert's Atlas, although he actually designed it. It's always been Convair's (and now Lockheed Martin's). Maxime Faget's Mercury? No. It's McDonnell's Mercury, even though Faget came with the blunt end design and the bell-shape.
Perhaps it is the same as people might say "The rescuers" was made by Walt Disney, even though the good man was already dead for eleven years when that film was made. People need to put at least one well-known name on a project that achieved a significant milestone.

Wernher von Braun was an outstanding rocket scientist and he had some brilliant ideas. But he didn't do it all by himself. (I sometimes get the impression his Russian colleague Sergei Pavlovitch Korolyov did, though...)

I recently saw a very well crafted resin model of the F-1 rocket engine which had a placard that kind of suggested Von Braun had a hand in its existence. And that is not the case.
The F-1 came to be because in the mid-fifties the United States Air Force wanted Rocketdyne to design the biggest engine they could dream of, just in case they needed a huge rocket to launch an enormous warhead to the Russkies. When Rocketdyne came up with the design the USAF realised they no longer needed the engine since warheads became smaller and smaller. The military said thanks but no thanks and dropped the F1. Then in 1958 NASA came along and saw potential in an engine that big. Such a big mother could easily lift their rockets to space and the moon. They ordered Rocketdyne to develop the engine further into a working prototype and not long after that they dreamed up the Nova booster which eventually was replaced with what became the Saturn V.
So although Von Braun could take advantage of the big engine it was never his idea. If one man should get more credit for this machine it would be Ernest Lamont, who designed the huge turbopump in the heart of the engine.

I think for their efforts in this industry, most designers unfortunately never got the credits they ought to have earned. And that is a pity. So if you do know the designer, give them the credits they deserve.

12 April 2011

Never too old to learn new stuff about old events

Today was the 50th anniversary of the first manned spaceflight. The 12th of April 1961 Lieutenant Yuri Gagarin rode his Vostok spacecraft into orbit on an R7 rocket.
While most of the flight was interpreted quite soon after there seemed to be confusion about Gagarins re-entry.
For long was believed or widely accepted the separation of the engine module and the "sharik", the ball-shaped return capsule went wrong and that several cables didn't sever when the separation occurred. Other sources tell the whole "plug" which connected both spacecraft parts did not drop out of its socket.

All in all the re-entry must have led to a very distressing and uncomfortable ride back to the surface. However, the facts seem to be different as to what I learned to believe. Anatoly Zak, the man from Russian spaceweb, wrote today about the real facts.
When the retro rocket fired over the west coast of Africa, one valve malfunctioned and caused the burn to stop one second early. But because of the rogue valve gas escaped out of the system and sent the craft spinning. Furthermore, the separation of both parts didn't occur. The decrease in speed was enough to start the re-entry trajectory but it became a very bumpy ride. Only when Vostok 1 passed Egypt, ten minutes later, the two parts came loose and the sharik was straightened. The short burn caused the descent angle to have a steeper curve so Gagarin landed 300 km short of his target area.

This makes my diorama of Gagarin's fiery return more or less a fable. The attempt to try and make flames from tissue paper was a one-off try. However, on this day it is worth to give it another look.

Gagarin's Fiery Return in 1/72, 200 grams paper & tissue. Picture in frame shows Egyptian coastline.
Model design: Leo Cherkashyn.

But let's not forget today also marks the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle flight. Bob Crippen and John Young flew Columbia on its maiden trip after some delays and holds. Today, NASA announced the locations the remaining shuttles will be sent to after retiring. Although it would have been an great sight to have them seen displayed all next to each other, along with Enterprise, NASA designated Discovery to the NASM in Washington DC, Atlantis remains on KSC grounds after her final touchdown, Endeavour might be sent to land n California, since it will be residing in the California Science Center in Los Angeles. (So she'll be closest to her birth grounds, which are in Palmdale.)
Enterprise will change her quarters from the NASM to the Big Apple, where the Intrepid aircraft carrier has a place for the shuttle in the hangar on the quay.
Let's hope these last two flights will go well.

03 April 2011

Launcher mayhem in the USA

Aaaargh! Get real, NASA! Its spiralling out of control! 
(Photo: ©CNN)

Next week on april 5th SpaceX will officially announce the new rocket they're going to build. The Falcon 9 Heavy is a tripled first stage of the regular Falcon 9 with the middle one carrying the second (and third) stage. Such a rocket might overshadow the power of, say, a Proton or Ariane 5. Dragon, their capsule is almost about to be man rated. Boeing is working hard on their Commercial Crew Vehicle and is trying to get the Atlas V 500 version as its carrier. That's number two.
Then there is Lockheed Martin's Orion spacecraft. Might also be able to get a ride on an Atlas or maybe even one of those new Delta rockets. United Launch Alliance, the cooperation between Boeing and Lockheed Martin, offers both in the Atlas range as with the Delta series the possibility to launch a "heavy" version of the rockets. Three very well working launchers and three capable space crew carriers about to hit the market.

One might conclude that there is nothing wrong on the launcher market in the good old US of A. Big and bigger rockets are ready to launch whatever payload there is into low and high orbit and even further.

02 April 2011

What ifs

In the last years I became quite fascinated with what could have been in space. The blog Beyond Apollo has a lot of very interesting stories about that (link in the sidebar). I already did an early variant of what was to become Skylab. this 'Wet Orbital Workshop" idea consisted of a SIVb stage that was used to get into orbit and then modified inside for housing a crew of astronauts. I tried to find more about this configuration but there was hardly any illustrative material around. I came up with a pretty decent depiction of the Wet OWS, though.

Now there were a lot of other interesting things that were considered in the seventies and early eighties. For instance, what eventually became the ASTP - or Apollo - Soyuz, as most people call it, also had some interesting variants involving the space stations of those days. There were wild plans for letting Skylab dock with Soyuz or even a Salyut! Also a docking of a shuttle with a Salyut was considered.
Besides that, NASA also had plans to improve Skylab for a next decade if the whole shebang hadn't plummeted into the atmosphere and burned up in 1979.
This set me thinking. It would be nice to make these models and make them able to
dock in all of these configurations. An Apollo, a Soyuz, but also (an improved) Skylab and Salyut 6 or 7 and a shuttle. The docking mechanisms would be easy to make with some small magnets. Just make sure the magnets don't repel each other.

Here's some sketchwork I did around this theme. Doodling about in my sketchbook gives me a lot of insight in how to display a model and how to construct these non-existent ones.

these drawings show my take on the actual plans NASA might have had with Skylab around 1985. A giant power block would have been added on the front end, causing to have to retract towo of the "helicopter" solar panels of the Telescope Mount. The power block would have had huge solar panels which would have rendered the old ones quite useless. Also at the front end would have been an extension for the shuttle to dock. I wonder whether they also would have wanted to wrap Skylab in white thermal blankets.

(these drawings are about 3x3cm so bear with me about the detailing in it... I like to build 'em small, I like to draw 'em small...)

1/400 ISS - Shuttle Endeavour

If Discovery has the biggest fame and acclaim for its achievements, Endeavour is as far as I know the 'least famous' shuttle. One of the reasons I have a weakness for her. She would probably not have been built if Challenger hadn't been destroyed. And she had the shortest career of all the shuttles. (What is short? In 19 years she flew 24 missions)

I have plans for all shuttles to build into a diorama or action scene. Endeavour will be in this one. I used AXM's shuttle which originally is in 1/144. I reduced it to 1/400 and when I saw the pieces I had my doubts for a while whether I could do it. I couldn't be more far from the truth.

The payload bay.

after a few pieces the shape of a shuttle already is clear to see.

The wings are on

Due to this thick paper in this scale I often get ugly white edges. I use colour pencils to get rid of that. As I planned to show Endeavour while she makes her last 'loop' around the IS before returning to Earth for good, I needed to put the shuttle on a rod and show her upside down. I made Endeavour detachable by glueing a small tube in the engine section. This shoves over the rod the shuttle will be displayed on in the scene.

While this blog still is in its test phase, I just post some stuff I am working on right now. However, it needs some more structure, I think.
When this build is over, I will probably mainly publish pics of finished stuff, musings about space and sketches of what I am thinking of building. I don't want to get too much overlap with the forums I post on. Builds sometimes are time consuming, FYI, this ISS build was started the 29th of December of 2010.

01 April 2011

ISS in 1/400 (#.1)

Building paper models is great.
It is creative. It clears the mind. It gives one some insight in how stuff works. How flat planes can change into 3D objects. And it is just plain fun.

For those of you who don't know, there's a lot out there to be found. I have specialized myself in space related models, varying in size from 1/33 to 1/400 so far.
This blog will be showing you some things I am working on, some of the ideas I have and my thoughts about space travel in general. Sometimes I'll deviate a bit and make an airplane or even make or write something that has nothing to do with aeronautics.

Although I am very Dutch I decided to do this blog in English because of the paper building communities I am involved in. Perhaps sometimes I will post in Dutch and then you'll have to show some effort and use a translator.
There might also be some double postings here and on the forums I post on.

Here's what I am working on right now. The International Space Station in 1/400. Shuttle Endeavour is being built now and will be added soon. The US/Japanese/European section is made from the model John Jogerst designed. His model is originally is designed in 1/80. A lot of what John makes can be found at Jonathan Leslie's Lower Hudson Valley Paper Model E-gift shop. I did a redesign of the textures of the hulls of a couple of the US/JAXA/ESA modules.

The Russian section and the ATV docked to Zvezda come from Alfonso Moreno. He has a fabulous site called AXM paper space scale models where a lot of Shuttle-related stuff is found - for free! The truss again is mainly John Jogerst's design work but I did a bit of redesigning for this small scale. I work with kind of thick paper, 200 grams per square meter, which is fairly heavy, and a bit too much of it all for this size. But I love its sturdiness and ability to hold itself up without too much reinforcement stuff. Especially in this scale.
All solar panels got a six or so layers of Tamiya gloss acrylic paint. I found the depth and realism of these parts greatly improved with it.

The ISS awaiting finishing

To show how small it is: each square is 1 cm2The whole ISS is modular. The truss can be removed and the ISS itself rests on a stand but can be taken off of it.
The struts for keeping the truss in place are made of brass rods.

Here Russian modules Pirs (up) and Poisk are seen with a Soyuz (upper) and Progress supply ship docked.
The solar panels of Zvezda can rotate. All solar panels on the ISS have a 6-layer coat of Tamya clear gloss for some extra depth.

Now with Pirs and Poisk added, the Soyuz and Progress docked, I am waiting for AXM's Rassvet to come out. In the meantime I started on the shuttle which will complete this diorama.


This is NOT a test. This is the first message on PK's blog. It will be about what PK does. It will be about what keeps PK 's brain occupied now and then. But most of all it is about PK's paper models. Mostly.
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