Lake County SpacePort 

                                                                                       "Ad Astra per Formae"

The Orion I Booster

for the Orion III Space Clipper

based on the Moebius Models Space Clipper Kit

This was a model that I've been thinking about for some time now.

And, while working on the big Ares 1B Moon Shuttle, I decided if I was going to the time and trouble of finishing up my 2001 model work, now would be the right time to do this.

So, I found a reasonably priced copy of the Moebius Space Clipper model on eBay, scrounged up some "left overs" from other model kits, did a bit of 3D printing to generate other parts, pulled some concept photos off the Web and got to work.

The Orion Booster did not appear in the film 2001, but is alluded to in Arthur C. Clarke's background novel. In a similar ascent profile to our beloved Space Shuttle, the Booster would take the Clipper from the ground up to about 50-60 miles altitude and a speed of about Mach 4-5. From that point, the Clipper's on-board propulsion would complete the orbital insertion, rendezvous and docking with the Space Station. 

Obviously, other modelers had been intrigued by the Orion Booster concept, as there was a nice version done by another modeler, "Ronpur's Space Models,"  some years ago, and even Alan Johnson, the famed 2001 historian, produced a resin kit while his AJK Models were still available. But that was all years ago.

I looked over both the artwork on the Web of the Booster, as well as photos of Ronpur's work and came up with my own "plan" for doing an Orion Booster.

One of the concept artworks I saw on the Web used what appeared to be an XB-70 supersonic bomber as the booster. Hmmm, that's not a bad place to start. The old Valkyrie was a Mach 2+ bomber and the design of the engine nacelle was always intriguing to me. 

So, I used a variation on the front inlet design of the XB-70, sections of ABS and polycarb tubes and four truncated SSME engine nozzles to create the four "ScramJet" propulsion system for the booster. I placed it in virtually the same location as all of the artwork and other models had done. However, I did not "blunt-out" the tail of the original Orion III airframe. I just removed the engine blister from the upper surface and gently sloped and rounded it, so it would taper below the Space Clipper while it was attached. 

I used a system of Clipper support patterned after the supports between the Shuttle Orbiter and its External Tank, except there was no need for fuel passing from one craft to the other. The concept laid down by Clarke and Kubrick saw each vehicle as independent from one another and only sharing a portion of the ascent profile during flight.

Anyway, here they are, as a "mated pair." The Orion III Space Clipper and its Booster, in flight as seen in one of the artwork paintings I found on the Web.

Here's where we began. Using the basic Orion model, I added the inlet nacelle box and tubing, coupled to short tubing sections and nozzles. 

The normal engine section of the "orbital" Orion was removed, filled and blended. The "teardrop" shape made sense to me as a drag reduction principle, so I did not "bob the tail" as others had. 

Here, the forward and aft Clipper Supports have been added. The "shark fin" near the top center will be painted Flat Black to render it less visible. It's only used to align to the display slot on the underside of the mated Clipper.

A coat of White primary color all over, then detail painting of the engines and supports. The upper panel decals provided in the old Moebius kit worked alright, but the bottom side versions did not. they broke apart during soak. The Pan Am logo decals are from the HDA Modelworks decal set.

The finished Booster and the mated pair.

The pair is now proudly on display on our revised 2001 model shelf.