Building Your Own Space Shuttle Discovery

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October 7, 2022

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The Space Shuttle Discovery is one of the 5 orbiters built as part of the NASA space shuttle program. Retired in 2011, the shuttle is currently on display in Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

If that’s a little far to travel, you can display a small model version of the shuttle using the Space Shuttle Discovery 3D model kit.

Designed by a small Belgian company, the board design for this kit is open source, and can be found on their GitHub page.

Having purchased and assembled one of these kits, I felt it would be an interesting little product to review.

What You Get

The kit requires a CR2032 battery holder, 3 candle-style LEDs, a switch, and of course the board itself. Phyx don’t currently sell this kit directly, and given the board is open source, it’s possible for third parties to make up their own kits to sell.

The kit I purchased was from Pimoroni in the UK.

packaged kit
Packaged kit, purchased from Pimoroni.

The card-style board features a few interesting facts about the space shuttle surrounding the removable parts.

Aside from the soldering equipment, the only other part you’ll need to add for yourself is a CR2032 battery.

Assembly

Soldering of this kit is relatively easy, with through-hole components and large pads to solder the panels together.

To release the three main pieces from the card-style board, bend the board around the joints. You might want to score the joints with a knife, to make this part slightly easier.

The most tricky aspect of assembly is lining up the body panels and the base.

Soldering one side of the joint, and re-melting this to allow adjustments, is the best way to line the parts up correctly. It’s not going to be perfect, but it’s not too difficult to get lined up enough to look properly assembled.

If you want to view the assembly process, check out our video.

A few steps, such as the soldering of LEDs and the switch, can be done earlier on in the build if desired. The only part that has to be assembled in the correct order is the shuttle body – the two body pieces must be fitted before attaching them to the base.

Conclusion

Overall, this is a very nice kit, and would make a great gift for someone that enjoys soldering. The relative ease of assembly make it a good little project for beginners, too.

There’s plenty of potential for future upgrades if you’re so inclined. A 3D printed base (to hide the switch/battery, a USB power option, or even providing power through a wireless charging pad are all interesting options should you wish to take the build further.

The detailing on the body of the shuttle is excellent, and the textured finish is a nice touch.

It’s only a small model, at around 6cm tall and 8cm in length. It would be great if the model was a little larger, but of course, a larger model would come at a higher cost.

Here is a photo of the completed model.

completed model
Completed model.

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