Category Archives: History

Gemini reference book for model builders at “Space in Miniature”

Space in Miniature (SIM) is Michael Mackowski’s website devoted to space modeling.  He  includes a series of books and reports  in which he “covers various topics in the area of building scale models of real spacecraft”. He has just released a new book about modeling Gemini spacecraft:

Building Gemini Reference Book for Model Builders is Published

Lunar Rescue Gemini. Credits SIM

The ninth installment of the Space In Miniature (SIM) series of reference booklets for spacecraft modelers is now available. This 72-page soft-cover booklet describes in detail how the author, Michael Mackowski, built nine different models of the Gemini two-person spacecraft. These include some standard NASA versions as well as some proposed Gemini variants that never made it off the drawing board.

Gemini XI with an Agena. Credits SIM

While there already is a Gemini book in the Space in Miniature series, SIM #2, that volume did not have any detailed how-to articles. The new book is loaded with over 200 photos of work in progress of the following model projects:

  • Gemini IV
  • Gemini VII
  • Gemini XI with Agena
  • Rogallo Wing Capsule
  • Manned Orbiting Lab (MOL)
  • Big G
  • Winged Gemini
  • Lunar Rescue Gemini
  • Gemini to Mars

All are in 1/48th scale except for a 1/24th scale Gemini IV and a 1/72nd scale Mars mission concept and use a variety of kits and scratch-building. This book documents those builds, including how to correct the old Revell kits, and presents a bit of background on the “lost Gemini” projects that were never built. The result is the largest SIM book to date, covering a unique collection of nine historical and theoretical Gemini models built over a span of four years.

Gemini EVA. Credits: SIM

This book is printed in black and white on coated paper, and is available both as a hard copy book as well as a full-color pdf file. This guidebook will be a unique resource for the serious space modeler. A hard copy of SIM #9 – Building Gemini sells for $12 plus shipping, while a pdf download costs $10. A combination package of both the hard copy and digital version is available for only $15 plus shipping. To order, see www.spaceinminiature.com or send an email to mike@spaceinminiature.com. The other titles in the SIM series are still available.

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See also the SIM Galleryspace modeling reference materials, and SIM Paper Models. The latter includes free instructions for the Mars Insight lander:

Insight Lander Paper Model at SIM
Insight Lander paper model at SIM.

J2 space trading card sets

Collectable cards maker J2 Cards has opened a line of J2 NASA Space Missions Cards.

J2 NASA Mission Cards
J2 space trading cards include scenes of human spaceflight activities ranging  from Mercury to the Space Shuttle missions.

There are two series of cards so far and they will be “available at Amazon.com, eBay and selected card shoppes around North America”.

The first series can be ordered now at J2 USA Space Missions Series 1 set of 100 cards (Amazon.com commission link).

 

Sputnik-1 lab test model leads Bonhams Air & Space auction

Bonhams auction house will hold The Air and Space Sale on September 17th. A highlight of the collection is the SPUTNIK-1 EMC/EMI LAB MODEL, 1957.

 Sputnik-1 test model
Sputnik-1 engineering test model from 1957.

From the press release:

The Dawn of the Space Age
Bonhams to Offer an Exceptionally Rare Vintage Test Model
of the Sputnik-1 Satellite

  • Full scale vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite [February 1957]
  • Formerly on loan and displayed at Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany

New York – On September 17, Bonhams will hold The Air and Space Sale, which is highlighted by an exceptionally rare vintage test model of the Sputnik-1 satellite (estimate: $400,000-600,000). This model is one of only a few made to test ground electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI). It was used by NII-885, a company under the Soviet Ministry of the Radio Industry, which, along with OKB-1, are responsible for the Sputnik-1 success. This example had been on loan and was displayed at Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany and was in the Collection of NII-885 director Dr. Mikhail Ryazansky.

Adam Stackhouse, Bonhams specialist, commented:

“We are honored to bring this world-changing piece of history to auction. There are only a handful of known working examples of the Sputnik-1 and this one comes with excellent provenance.”

About Sputnik-1
The Sputnik-1 artificial satellite was launched into Earth orbit by a R7 Semiorka rocket on October 4, 1957. The satellite had several scientific objectives: test the method of placing an artificial satellite in Earth orbit; provide information on the density of the upper atmosphere; test radio and optical methods of orbital tracking; determine the effects of radio propagation through the atmosphere; and check principles of pressurization used on satellites. Testing would have been rigorous as Sergei Korolov, the lead Soviet rocket engineer who headed the Sputnik-1 project, insisted that the transmission be received even by those with the cheapest of radios.

The successful launch of Sputnik-1 sent the United States population into a panic. In the midst of a cold war, the Soviets demonstrated that they had a rocket powerful enough to send a satellite into orbit.

“There was a sudden crisis of confidence in American technology, values, politics, and the military. Science, technology, and engineering were totally reworked and massively funded in the shadow of Sputnik. The Russian satellite essentially forced the United States to place a new national priority on research science, which led to the development of microelectronics…. Many essential technologies of modern life, including the Internet, owe their early development to the accelerated pace of applied research triggered by Sputnik”

(Dickson p.4). Dickson. Sputnik: The Shock of the Century. New York: Walker, [2001].

Additional highlights in the sale include:

  • CIAM/NASA HFL Kholod rocket, once the fastest vehicle to fly within the earth’s atmosphere (estimate: $80,000-120,000)
  • Lavochkin V-751 Surface-to-Air Missile, an experimental missile that was part of the family of missiles used in Lavochkin’s S-75 high-altitude air defense system (estimate: $50,000-70,000)
  • A hand-crafted lunar module contractor’s model marked with Grumman and NASA logos, and titled “Lunar Excursion Module” (estimate: $6,000-8,000)

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The Race to the Moon Chronicled in Stamps, Postcards, and Postmarks:
A Story of Puffery vs. the Pragmatic (Springer Praxis Books)

“50/50 Lunar Legends” film documents the stories of US space pioneers

Check out the 50/50 Lunar Legends film:

“50/50 Lunar Legends” a new documentary about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing and hidden figures of US space program – from Apollo to these days. We interviewed 50 people at the Florida Space Coast. Those who have contributed or who are actively contributing to space exploration.

Neil Armstrong believed their chances were only 50/50 that the moon landing would be a success. Hence the name of the documentary. It focuses on the actual people who worked behind the scenes at NASA and its contractors to pioneer the science and technology of space exploration and how private companies, such as SpaceX, Blue Origin, and alike now continue to push us further into the future.

Lunar Legends

The project was non-commercial  and accomplished on a shoestring budget.

A brief preview:

A longer trailer can be seen at 50/50 Lunar Legends – Trench Media on FaceBook.

The full documentary is currently available at 50 / 50 Lunar Legends | Amazon Prime Video in three parts:

  1. A Call to Action: The space race created excitement across the nation and within the young engineers and others who got jobs at NASA and moved to the Space Coast of Florida.
  2. 50/50 Chances: There is a huge sense of the “unknown” and “doubt” associated with space exploration. This inherently risky business pays off with great rewards for humanity that may also be followed by great tragedy.
  3. A New Incentive: A deep sense of inspiration and dissatisfaction remained as the future of space exploration sat stagnant. Now, new players emerge in the Space business and the power shifts from public to private. The time has come for strategic collaboration as the new golden age for Space arrives.

More at

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First on the Moon: The Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Experience

Video: “How to Draw the Lunar Lander”

Artist Stanley Von Medvey shows how to draw the Apollo lunar lander:

If you prefer to build a model of the lander, here are some paper model guides for download:

Here’s a 1960s era NASA fact sheet for the Lunar Module (pdf).

And a simulator: Eagle Lander 3D (EL3D)

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Aoshima Apollo Lunar Module Eagle-5 Model Kit