I sometimes get into discussions about if a spacecraft design is realistic. These are frequently interesting, but it’s not straightforward. For example, there are serious designs from the early days of spaceflight which we now know could not work. Manned craft without heavy radiation shielding are a common example of this.
On the other hand, you have some fictional craft carefully designed to be as realistic as possible – the vehicles in “2001 a Space Odyssey” are a great example.
So how to handle it when some fictional craft are more credible than serious designs? here’s my attempt at a system, from the most realistic to the least. Comments and additions are very welcome.
1. Real space hardware that actually flew successfully.
I gather from Twitter that some people find it interesting to follow my approach and progress when building a new model. So here’s a blog post where I will show how a project comes together, with lots of illustrations.
My starting point is to gather references, particularly high resolution photos, and plans with dimensions. Fortunately this one is covered in the excellent “Rockets of the World” by Peter Alway. It’s not highly detailed, but I find if you can get the overall dimensions of major features correct, then it’s not too tricky to fill in the rest from good photographs.
I visited the UK’s National Space Centre, partly to get better references for a CGI “Skylark” rocket, and thought it was worth a blog entry. I’ll be publishing reference photos, for the benefit of other modellers, in a separate post.
It’s located on the outskirts of Leicester, and a bit of a pain to get to if you are not familiar with the local public transport system. Easy to spot by it’s distinctive shape, dominated by the Rocket Tower.
The Skylark was an incredibly successful British sounding rocket, with over 400 successful launches. Despite sounding like the title of an Enid Blyton book, at the time of the final launch it was the longest running rocket program in the world, bar none. First launch was 1957, and the 441st final flight in 2005. Continue reading “Skylark. The most successful rocket you never heard of…”
Before I get started I must give credit. The illustrations here are largely by Galina Balashova. Little known in the west, she was responsible for the interior design of pretty much every Soviet spacecraft. Combining Art and Architectural skills, it was her job to make the spacecraft a productive, pleasant environment.
If you have any interest in this area, the book “Galina Balashova, Architect of the Soviet Space Program” is absolutely essential, and is packed with elegant and informative paintings and drawings.
There are a huge number of books out there covering space exploration, but in my opinion, very few that manage to combine definitive coverage with an exciting read. So, here is my shortlist for books you should read if you want to enjoy finding out more about the history of manned space exploration.