The ten most beautiful rockets!

Ok, this is bound to be highly subjective! But for what it’s worth, here are the ten most beautiful rockets, in my opinion.

10. Electron.

The shape is simple but the paint job wins the prize. New Zealand based, which is why we have what is effectively a rocket wearing an All Blacks rugby shirt.

I note they also claim to have the most beautiful launch site in the world, and having visited New Zealand, I am willing to accept that.

The AXM Electron Rocket
The Electron Rocket

Continue reading “The ten most beautiful rockets!”

The Cosmic Exploration Card Decks

My latest commercial project is the Cosmic Exploration Card Decks, which is running as a Kickstarter.

Each card in the deck features a spacecraft, modelled for accuracy and detail. We have had test prints done, and the whole thing is ready to go to print as soon as, (if?), the kickstarter completes successfully.

Continue reading “The Cosmic Exploration Card Decks”

N-1 For the Moon & Mars, a second edition.

I’m pleased to announce that we are going ahead with a second edition of the book, “N-1 for the Moon and Mars”.

The first edition has been pretty much impossible to get hold of for some time, with stupid money being asked for a copy.

Cover, 1st Edition, N-1 for the Moon & Mars
Cover, 1st Edition, N-1 for the Moon & Mars

What will be added in the new edition?

Continue reading “N-1 For the Moon & Mars, a second edition.”

Modelling CGI rockets, part 2, worked example

So, in part 1 I showed you how to locate and work with references.

Here in part 2, I’m going to work an example, the Mercury Atlas. I’ve done it in one long part again so it’s easy to print. (Handy hint! You may be able to print to PDF to get a portable version…)

I’m not going to give blow by blow instructions to build the model yourself, but you should see enough examples of techniques used to address common elements in modelling rockets.

Now I have Rockets of the World, so I can use the dimensioned plans from that – small version follows, (deliberately too small to use, as its copyrighted).

Mercury Atlas
Mercury Atlas

But you can do a good job without. Using methods described in part 1, I was able to locate some perspective free views, at good resolution. Click for a larger image: Continue reading “Modelling CGI rockets, part 2, worked example”

A guide to modelling CGI rockets, part 1, references.

Some of the most popular items I model are rockets, and to be honest – they are not that difficult. The basic shape is normally a series of cylinders and tapers, topped with a cone!

So I thought it might be a good idea to write a general guide on how I go about it. I’ve done it as one long article, so it’s easy to print if you wish. Continue reading “A guide to modelling CGI rockets, part 1, references.”

The Rocket Library

In 2018 I was doing an international commute, and wanted something I could work on effectively while travelling. Eurostar is pretty comfortable, (particularly in standard premium), and the new laptop was seriously powerful, but I’ve never found it easy to work with a touch pad, and there wasn’t enough space for a mouse.

 So I came up with the idea of tidying up the various real spacecraft I have worked on, and assembling sets of images rendered perspective free, to a standard scale, which would make it easy to clearly show the different sizes of the various spacecraft.

This soon became the Rocket Library project!

A collection of most of the rockets I have modelled, all done to the same scale.
A collection of most of the rockets I have modelled, all done to the same scale.

(Click for a larger version.) Continue reading “The Rocket Library”

An objective system for how realistic / credible a spacecraft is…

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.

Clearly you can’t get more realistic than this!

Example: Saturn V rocket

Saturn V rocket
Saturn V rocket., perspective free views. Render by Nick Stevens

Continue reading “An objective system for how realistic / credible a spacecraft is…”

The Saturn 1B model, Follow along with the build.

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.

Rockets of the World
Rockets of the World

Continue reading “The Saturn 1B model, Follow along with the build.”

The National Space Centre, Leicester

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.

NSC Sign

The National Space Centre Web Site Continue reading “The National Space Centre, Leicester”

Skylark. The most successful rocket you never heard of…

The Rocket

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…”