Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

29 July 2012

MSL diorama [1]

It's time for something longer again. I am going tomake a diorama of the landing of Curiosity, NASA / JPL's newest Mars rover. It will land in the first week of August if everything goes to plan. 

A new frame for a new diorama.

The MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) is a much bigger endeavour than the previous two missions to Mars' surface were. Sojourner just was a rover the size of a medium-sized radio-controlled toy car, just 65 cm long. Its successors, the MER-twins Spirit and opportunity, were double sized, measuring one and a half meter in length. Curiosity again is twice as big, it has the size of a small car, being 3 meters long. So while the other rovers could be dropped on a parachute, covered in a coat of balloons to break their fall, they had to come up with something else for Curiosity, being so much heavier.

Enter Sky Crane. A robot which is not supposed to land but to break the fall of Curiosity and hover over the ground at a height of 7,5 meters. The rover is winched down on three cables and when the wheels touch the ground, the cables will be severed and the Sky Crane will fly away in a large arc and crash at a safe distance of the rover.

28 July 2012

Redstone MR-3 Friendship 7

Before America was confident enough to send a man in a Mercury into orbit on that silvery Atlas, which had the habit of blowing up sometimes, they opted for so-called suborbital flights.these flight patterns were much simpler than getting a capsule in orbit. It actually just was a ballistic trajectory, where the rocket lifted off in a steep angle, getting as high as possible. Just before reaching that point, the rocket would jettison the capsule, which would rise a little further on a weightless parabola. The astronaut had about 5 minutes left to test the reaction control thrusters, read some gauges and maybe take some pictures before falling back. To help braking, the Mercury used retro rockets, strapped onto the heat shield. They fired one by one to slow the capsule down before they were jettisoned.

This firing of the retro rockets was not necessary with a ballistic flight, but they tested them anyway. From that point it went down again. because of the quick deceleration the astronaut got pressed back in his seat and experienced some 8g's. If the angle of re-entry was too steep it even could be higher.

The candle.
Alan Shepard, America's first man in space, experienced this first hand on his flight. Upon re-entering the atmosphere he got more than 11g's, eleven times his weight pressing down on him. He grunted "I'm O.K." a couple of time to let the control room know he still was alive. At the time he splashed down in the Atlantic, only 15 minutes were passed since his launch.

Shepard's capsule was different from the rest because of its windows. While all of the other flown Mercury capsules had a large rectangular window in front of the pilot's face, Friendship 7 had two small portholes on the left and right side of the astronaut. But there wasn't that much to see for Shepard in those 15 minutes. His time in the cockpit though, was a lot longer. Before he was launched, due to delays on the pad he had to wait for three hours. On top of all that he felt an urgent need to pee. When they said he couldn't egress the capsule, he did it in his suit. He was almost dry again (an airconditioned suit makes this go quite quick) when there occurred a new small anomaly. The control room wanted another delay but Shepard had enough of it all.
"Allright! I'm cooler than you are!", he barked. "Why don't you fix your little problem and light this candle!?" Not much later he lifted off the pad.

The building of this model was very easy. The most parts were in the engine section. The top part with the capsule followed the same process as with the Atlas. This time I made some photos of it all to show how I did it. Pictures after the break.

25 July 2012

Atlas MA-6 Freedom 7 in 1/96

Another inbetweenie. This time an addition to my ever growing rocket garden. This is the Atlas-D which lifted John Glenn into orbit in 1962. I used silver card for the hull and tie fairings and cable runs. The engines were made from thick grey card and I used some bare metal foil for the silver accents. the kits used were Mark Cable's remake of the precision paper models Atlas model and Carl Hewlett's Mercury capsule, reduced in size to 1/96.

The lettering on the hull was done with decals I printed myself.

A shiny candle.

more after the break.

21 July 2012

X-37b Finished

Another one to gather dust on the shelves.
The X-37b shown while landing after another long-duration top secret mission for the DOD.
This was actually a nice and short fun build for a change. It wasn't as meticulously detailed as, say, my Titan or Soyuz FG but it is a nice model anyway. It's basic-ness was just improved a little by opening the wheel wells and the textured skin.

More pictures after the break as usual.

17 July 2012

Atlas awaits Boosters

The Atlas core booster is finished. Not entirely enthusiastic about the result but anyway, it is there. It still needs the five booster rockets around the base but I still am thinking of how I can improve those rockets. Here's a picture of the Atlas for the time being.

In the meantime I started with a new thing. (see post under this one)


With the retirement of the space shuttle one would think there are no operational space planes left but that's not the case.
In the early 2000's NASA tested a small craft called the X-40, a small aircraft with a wing shape slightly reminiscent of that of the shuttle and a size that could brig back memories of the old lifting bodies frm the late 1960's. This plane developed into the 120% larger X-37B space plane. The USAF ordered two of those small unmanned spacecraft and the first one was launched in 2010 on an Atlas V. It spent 224 days in space. A second X-37B even spent 469 days up in space.

The real thing after its 2nd flight. Photo: Boeing/USAF

John Jogerst made a kit of this small spacecraft available and recently changed the design a bit, adding the heat resistant tile structure to the plane's surface.
While I am awaiting a sudden moment of inspiration for the Alas boosters to be made, I decided to do Yogi a favour and do a testbuild of the new design.
But I can't just build. I am not like that. I started tinkering a bit more and gave the whole plane some more depth and structure. I added the insulation blanket texture and I made a post-flight version, with scorched heat shield and sides.
And that is what I am making now. And I still am adding details. I wanted to make it into a diorama while the plane is landing, so I opened the landing gear doors and fabricated some wheel wells.
This is getting out of hand, as usual.

Pictures after the break.

14 July 2012

One down, one to go.

I have finished the first half of the Atlas' fairing. It took some time to punch out all the little round parts but there it is. I tried as best as I could to follow the original placement of the panels. I am afraid it sometimes needed a little artistic license. It looks quite close to the original, though.

I had a small problem with the placement of my reinforcing rings and that of the panels down right, but I solved it by kind of ignoring the ring is there. it gives a nice impression of the panels anyway.
Now the second half. It is different from this half so it is back to the beginning.
some more pictures after the break.


While working on these acoustic dampeners, the residue caught my eye. Artistic or not, it certainly is nice to photograph in macro.

11 July 2012

Hm. This might take some time.

I can make macro photographs! Yay!
Now then, what's this?
I'll tell you.
When an Atlas is launched it clearly never goes without some noise. It actually produces a lot of noise. So be sure to wear your ear plugs when attending a launch. But the poor payload inside doesn't have ears to put plugs in. However, it gets quite a bashing by the sound waves hitting the payload bay It is around 140 dB, which is rather unpleasant for all the fine electronic equipment. Therefore ULA put acoustic dampeners inside the fairing. Foam tiles with small acoustic absorbent elements on it. These tiles make the launch bearable for the probe or satellite. Quite a good idea.

Juno about to be encapsulated in her shroud. After this the shroud is sealed and secured and transported to the rocket. The lower part of the fairing, containing the Centaur, already is placed on the Atlas. This part joins the rest as the last structural element.
 Now to replicate that in a paper model.

06 July 2012

André Kuipers back on earth

Besides all the paper modeling, another event in space close to home was concluded recently. André Kuipers, the third* Dutch-born person that went into space came back from his second flight last Sunday. Great return - and all of it was live on Dutch television. Not something one sees here every day. 
For most Dutchies space flight still is something they cannot grasp fully. they know very little about it, as most of the general public everywhere. So I think it was quite funny to see, read and hear all those shocked reactions on André's physical troubles the first days after his return.
He said he felt awful. He couldn't walk at all and every movement he made with his head caused severe nausea and dizziness. A lot of people thought this was something unique and I am afraid this only was amplified by the media by not telling that this was absolutely normal after being in space for so long.

Photo AP / Sergei Remezov
What happened to André and all the other space travellers who went to space for a long time is this: The semicircular canals inside your inner ear, that take care of your equilibrium and orientating abilities, are very sensitive organs. When you arrive in space, they are completely at a loss. the canals are filled with a fluid which reacts with gravity. This way your brain knows what is up and what is down. Since there is nothing as such in space and the fluids are floating freely around inside the semicircular tubes this also causes nausea and the feeling of disorientation. At such moments you realise what an important organ the vestibular system is.

Juno - and onward!

Well, Juno is finished. In the end it became a good looking thing anyway. It's all in the details, as usual. From plain metal pins I made the structure on which the two small mid- and low gain antennas are placed. The antennas themselves are made from paper cones and a pin end for one and a nail head for the other. I glued it all with CA, or super glue as most people call it. Drip it on, put it where it must go and it's glued. Wonderful.

Hmm. Small probe.
I had to compare it with the Voyager probe for detail reference and size. How that looks and more after the break.

05 July 2012

Juno - almost there

As the title says, Juno's almost ready. I only have to do some tiny detailing. I have to admit this model just calls out to be finished so perhaps this is not as precise a job as I maybe want to or what viewers expect from me. It's that shroud thing that bothers me a bit. I just want this one finished and on the shelf. There was a hiatus that kind of disrupted the detailing. I promise the shroud will be good, though. (-:

Here's Juno almost in her finished state. Still a pretty probe.

Attached to the Centaur. It is still detachable.

04 July 2012

Juno - the second time around

In the meantime I started work on Juno, this Atlas' payload. This one is in 1/96, so it's 50% of the size I built it in some time ago. I use its big sister to see where things go, because I do a lot of scratch building here.
Not so much to say about it, it is pretty straightforward and I like working on it.
After this it will be the shroud. 
As usual, more pics after the break.

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