Lake County SpacePort 

                                                                                       "Ad Astra per Formae"

"The Workbench"


July 20, 2015.
We've returned from a great weekend, judging great cars, withe great friends and having great meals at the 2015 Hawk vintage sports car event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Today was spent taking care of all the things left before the big weekend unfolded and getting ready for the rest of the workweek ahead.
But...there's something else that happened on this date, 46 years ago, that has not lost its significance to me.
LM-5, the "Eagle," withe Commander Neil Armstrong and LM Pilot Edwin Aldrin aboard, set down on Mare Tranquilitatis - the Sea of Tranquility. The very first time humans had landed beyond the "shores" of their home planet, to reach the Moon.
This flight, Apollo 11, was the end product of the hard work, testing and trial by flight of the entire Saturn/Apollo system, and the labor of over 400,000 American workers, engineers and technicians who designed, tested, built and finally assembled, checked and launched the vehicles into space. 
It was the singular, cardinal step in the expansion of Man's horizons beyond the shores of Earth.
We returned five more times, bringing back more and more diverse sample of lunar material, establishing scientific monitoring stations at each landing site and conducted the first serious geological evaluation of another celestial body.
Now, 46 years later, we have not set foot upon the Moon's surface since 1972. While we have conducted, and continue to conduct, manned space operations in Earth orbit for both scientific research as well as economical investigations, and while we have just recently finished the reconnaissance of all the major bodies of our Solar System, we are actually further away from being able to land on the Moon than we were in 1961, when President Kennedy challenged to nation to achieve that goal.
Politics created Project Apollo, and politics caused its end. Only when we regard the continued expansion of mankind as something more than a "contest" between nations or political systems, will we find the continuity of purpose to go back to Moon, establish ourselves there and use that establishment as a stepping stone to the rest of the Solar System.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's first lunar landing, why not resolve to return to Mare Tranquilitatis, not to visit, but to stay. The knowledge of operating a human habitat only two-days away from Home might be a very valuable thing, as we sit and contemplate going to Mars.
It's time to return to the Moon.

Entry 26 - October 31, 2017

It's Halloween in Fox Lake, Illinois and true to form, the weather will be cold and windy as the kids trundle around the neighborhood tonight on the Trick or Treat run. At least I got the lights out over a week ago...

Meanwhile, we have seen some impressive project come to fruition this Fall at the ol'Spaceport.

The LVM Pad 14 Launch Umbilical Tower for the the Revell "All Systems Go" Friendship 7 - Atlas model was completed. There's a feature page on the website devoted to the project.

We also recently completed a 1/48 scale Soviet "LK" lunar lander kit from Fantastic Plastic. It is now also featured on the website.

We added an 8 by 10 copy of the Robert McCall Gemini mural to the background of the Next Big Steps shelf in the Apollo Room. A very appropriate addition.

The Mobeus 2001 Moon Bus model was completed, along with the LED-illuminated "landing pad" display base, which made the revision of the LED lighting for the Ares 1B Moon Clipper's landing pad happen as well.

So, now, we've done everything that was on the near-term agenda.

What to do... next?

We'll head down to the Workbench and ponder for a while.

Entry 25 - August 30, 2107

Well, Labor Day is just around the corner, and that means another Summer has come and gone. Damn, these years keep going by faster and faster...

On the home front, we had a successful conclusion to our eBay fund-raising project.

Our 1/72 Special Space Shuttle Orbiter modeling package, which included a vintage 1979 Monogram Orbiter kit and a butt-load of Real Space, Fisher Pattern, and LakeCountySpacePort detailing products, was purchased by Mr. John Chambers in Dayton, Ohio for $190. The total worth of the model and all of the goodies that went with it was over $280, so John got a very good deal!

On top of all that, LCSP.com donated the $190 selling proceeds to the American Space Museum and U.S. Space Walk of Fame in Titusville, Florida, to help them with the amazing work they do to collect, maintain and display rare launch equipment and crew artifacts from the U.S. space program, as well as public education and outreach events in the Central Florida area.

Thanks to John for his support of our efforts, as well as those of the American Space Museum!

On the local modeling front, we moved our 1/110 scale re-worked Freedom 7 launch pad model into its location in the Apollo Room.

We also completed a restoration project on the old Estes 1/42 scale Mercury-Redstone model, using body skins from Accur8 Spacemodels in Texas to completely renovate the booster.

We will soon be doing a similar renovation to our Estes Gemini-Titan II, to bring it into a new level of accuracy and detail.

We've ordered a Launch Umbilical Tower for our 1/110 Revell Friendship 7 launch pad model from LVM Studios in the Netherlands. It has not yet arrived in our shop, but should soon.

We are also building a new RSR 1/70 scale Little Joe II from Apogee Components, to add to the Apollo Room collection. It's the best small model of the Little Joe I've seen and will be a great addition to our "Rocket Garden."

Wow! For a "quiet month," we sure had a lot going on.

Here's to an excellent Autumn!

Entry 24 - August 14, 2017

It has been some time since we've made an entry in this section, so to say the Summer has not been full would not be true, but, in some ways, it has been fairly "relaxed."

In June, we spent some time visiting Phoenix, Arizona, to see my wife's relatives and re-new some connections to Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I used to visit more often, when my job took me there a couple of times per year.

In July, we had our annual vintage car event at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

But along the way, we did find time to do some modeling-related activities as well.

We formally added 1/100 scale products to our Shuttle decal and detail set offerings. These are available on the Web Store as well as on our eBay listings.

We completed a conversion of a Revell 1/110 scale Jupiter C model to become Launch Complex 5, with the Mercury Redstone "Freedom 7" awaiting launch. This was a project I had been thinking about for some time, but executed on just this past few weeks. The model has been showcased on our Facebook page, as well as here.

We also placed our big Special Shuttle Model Package onto eBay last week, which is a vintage 1979 Monogram Orbiter model, along with "all the trimmin's." A portion of the sale will go to the American Space Museum & Walk of Fame in Titusville. You can find the listing in our eBay offerings.

We've also found a decent photo of the Florida coastline, behind LC-39A to create a photo backdrop for our good old 1/144 scale LC-39A model. That is getting "posterized" to a large format print for mounting at the far end of the model's enclosure.

We also found a new source of detailing products, designed specifically for Estes flying scale models of the Mercury-Redstone and Gemini-Titan II, which should dramatically improve the surface detail. More on this as they arrive.

Entry 23 - May 2, 2017

It has been a while since our last entry.

We've been down to Tennessee, to visit friends, and back.

We've had a few home-based projects, and we did a bit of "heat stressing" to our dear old Discovery model, to get it that "just landed" look, but overall, it's been a quiet spring, from the modeling perspective.

The only project of any size was the 1/86 scale SpaceX Falcon 9 V 2.0 flying model, that we added re-scaled AXM Paper Space Model landing legs to, in order to boost the realism of the first stage.

For the real SpaceX, it's been a busy year thus far.

As the previous entry shows, SpaceX began launch activities fro Complex 39A at KSC, while SLC 40 is still being repaired. Besides the CRS-7 flight in February, there was the Echostar 23 flight in March. the SES-10 flight in April (first re-flight of a Falcon 9 first stage), and recently the NROL-76 flight on Monday (May 1). All launches saw first stage landings and recoveries, except for Echostar 23, which needed all the Specific Impulse to get the "bird" up to geostationary transfer orbit, so it flew in "expendable mode."

Seeing the great success that SpaceX has been having since the September 1, 2016 loss, gives me a great sense of pride and confidence in their goals for the future. Here's hoping for a flight of Crewed Dragon in the near future!

Go Falcon! Go Dragon! Go SpaceX!!

Entry 22 - February 20, 2017

It was quite a weekend.

With the very mild temperatures, the yard finally got cleared of all of the debris from our recent bouts of wind.

Errant solar lights along the driveway got repaired or replaced.
The boxes of holiday lights were put back into storage.

We began work on a new Frank Lloyd Wright lighting product project in the workshop.

And, on Sunday, after a scrubbed first attempt on Saturday, SpaceX launched the CRS-10 ISS resupply mission from Launch Pad 39A at KSC, and landed the first stage at LZ-1 on Cape Canaveral.

Just two weeks ago, we were there, hoping this event would occur during our stay. While we did get to see the preparations at LC-39A, the schedule was too optimistic.

But, this weekend, they did it, and it was still wonderful to watch. KSC is actually becoming a multi-user, multi-vehicle "spaceport."

Congratulations to SpaceX on a job well done

Entry 21 - January 11, 2017

The first Workbench entry of the new year finds a lot of activity on the shop, but no major "projects" on the docket.
While there was sooooooo much about 2016 that we did not find "enjoyable," there were some significant strides made at the Lake County SpacePort last year.
>>We finally made all of the Shuttle Tile & Blanket Decal Products "modular," so there is less duplication of elements between the sets and a better "fit" for the modeler's project.
>>We instituted the use of zip-lock plastic bags to protect all LCSP products during shipment.
>>We completed the entire EFT-2 suite of AXM Paper Space Models, along with the LED illumination of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.
>>We added a number of new Star Trek items to our display area, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the series.
>>Our trip to Seattle for visit family included the interior your of the Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer at the Museum of Flight. While it may not be an "operational" Shuttle Orbiter, the FFT was part of the training for every crew that flew on STS.
So, 2016 was not a total loss...
Since the turn of 2017, we have spent some time replenishing our inventory in the SpacePort Store on items which appear to be selling well during the close of '16 and the beginning of '17, such as the 1/144 scale Standard Black Tile Decals, as well as the 1/144 and 1/72 Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decals. With the creation of inventory, we will have put the store in a good position to serve its customers well into the year.
Late January is always a time of remembrance at the SpacePort. Three very important and sad anniversaries happen between January 26 and February 1st, as our Wall of Heroes commemorates. For the first time in the many, many trips I have made to KSC. we will be there during this Week of Remembrance. I am looking forward to seeing Atlantis in her new home for this first time, but also knowing the emotion will hang pretty heavy as we go through the "Forever Remembered" section of the Atlantis building, where the crews of STS 51-L and STS-107 are commemorated.
Dickens is reaclled again. It will be the "best of times and the worst of times."

Entry 20 - December 8, 2016

Unfortunately, 2016 has claimed more than just my good nature. It has claimed one of my longest-standing heroes.

On December 8, John H. Glenn, Jr. passed away.

John has "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."

He was the last of the Seven Mercury Astronauts.
A war hero in Korea.
A great test pilot.
The first American to orbit the Earth.
A Senator from his home state of Ohio.
He returned to orbit on October 29, 1998, as a member of the STS-95 crew.
He was one of my heroes.

"Godspeed, John Glenn!"


Now, all of the original Mercury Seven Astronauts have been consigned to the ages.

Their legacy of skill, daring, devotion and courage should be held scared and emulated by this generation, if it wishes to provide the kind of legacy to the future that these men gave us.

Ad astra per explorationem!

Entry 19 - November 30, 2016

We had a recent message from another eBay user who asked whether or not our Shuttle Payload Bay Detail Applications Set was actually "borrowed" from the 1/144 scale paper model artwork of AXM Paper Space Models.

Besides the simple act of plagiarism, he questioned whether or not our work was truly our own, or based off someone else.

As I pointed out in the descriptions for both the 1/72 and 1/144 scale Payload Bay sets, the images came from NASA photos of the Orbiters during payload change-out activities in the Orbiter Processing Facilities (OPFs). It took quite a bit of searching to find the images which showed sufficient area of each subject location to be usable for the work, and we did actually need to do a bit of digital image manipulation, including geometric and perspective corrections.

The original work was done for the 1/72 scale Monogram Orbiters we show in our website build articles, most of which have been moved over to Shutterfly, in order to save space on the Web site.

Once we found we had a workable, repeatable process, we decided to add this product to our inventory of Shuttle Modeling Products for sale on LCSP and eBay.

The images were then shrunk 1/2 size to work on 1/144 scale modules, including the Revell orbiter I was working on. We then made sure we knew which 1/144 scale Orbiters the application would and would not work on, so we could offer them in confidence.

All of our products have come to offering in this fashion. We have offered nothing to others that we have not first used ourselves with a successful outcome. Every single product on our offering locations is the product of effort expended to improve the realism of our own work, and once proven, they became available to others for their consideration and use.

We stand behind the products we sell, and have even created special scale sizes to customers who have requested them.

The 1/100 scale versions used on the Tamiya Orbiter are "available," but until the market is better defined, we do not make then for "stock inventory" ahead of sale. Each set will be made to order. If we see a few more orders, we will probably add them to the inventory as well.

So, with the exception of the Shuttle Tile Decals, whose origin was with the late Ed Bisconti, that's how all of our other Shuttle & ISS detail products have come to be.

Entry #18 – October 19, 2016

October already...

It's been a very interesting month so far.

We had a trip to Seattle to visit my oldest daughter and twin granddaughters, and while we were there, we did some amazing things.

The crown jewel for me was getting to tour the crew compartment of the Full Fuselage Trainer at Boeing's Museum of Flight. The FFT was given by NASA to MoF after the Shuttle Program was canceled in 2011. The FFT was used by every crew who ever flew aboard the Shuttle to familiarize themselves with system, equipment and logistics of the Orbiter's Middeck, Flight Deck and Payload Bay. As such, it is an historic artifact of the Shuttle Program and was certainly coveted by many museums and institutions around the country, but MoF got the "nod."

I have recently (2012& 2013) been fairly "up close & personal" with Orbiters Discovery and Endeavour, having visited their "new homes" at Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum (Discovery) and California Science Center (Endeavour). I've studied the Shuttle since 1974, flown computer simulations in its cockpit, but have never actual "been" on-board of a Shuttle Orbiter. Now, after touring the FFT, I have!!

While the FFT is not an "active" shuttle Orbiter, it is a full-size, completely accurate reproduction of the interior of the Orbiter, used by all STS crews during training, so indeed, I can say that I have walked on "hallowed ground."

I have recently posted the full FFT tour on our YouTube page. If you want to check it out, use this link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wzX2D-23LE

During our trip, my daughter asked if we wanted to go see the Star Trek 50th anniversary exhibit at the EMP / SciFi Museum. How fast could we get there?? Another fantastic venue and a great exhibit put on by Paul Allen's team. If there's a bigger sci-fi fan than Paul Allen, I don;t know of them. Paul REALLY put his money where is mind was, by building not only a phenomenal museum from the content perspective, by having Frank Gehery wrap one of his incredible buildings around them. quite the package!

In the last few days, Orbital/ATK has gotten Antares off the ground again, and put their Cygnus spacecraft en route to deliver goods to the ISS. Today, a Russian R7 Soyuz rocket put Expedition 49-50 into orbit to live aboard ISS.

Yes, October has been quite a good month.

Entry #17 – September 16, 2016

Well, apparently, there are some spacemodelers still working during the Summer months.

I recently received am inquiry from a modeler in Canada, who saw our post here on the SpacePort for the 1/100 scale Tamiya Orbiter model build, which depicted Columbia as she appeared when the STS-9 - Spacelab 1 mission was flown back in 1983.

For that particular build, we re-scaled our Orbiter Tile Decals to fit the 1/100 Tamiya model with excellent results.

So, this adventurous modeler asked me, "Are we going to offer these decals in 1/100 scale for other folks building the Tamiya Orbiter model?"

Up to this moment, I had not really given that subject any thought. Most all of our order traffic has been to the two popular scales seen in US and European Shuttle models - 1/144 and 1/72, predominated by Revell, Airfix, Minicraft and Monogram (now part of Revell).

My modeler friend told me that while the Tamiya model is not heavily sold in the US, it is widely available in Japan. He says that...

"As a Japanese (person) living in Canada and having chances to go (to) Japan a lot, (the) Tamiya 1/100 space shuttle is easier (to get) and (a) better option for me. Of course, your building page inspired me, and (the) Tamiya 1/100 costs me only $30 to 40 CAD in Japan comparing to (the) Revell 1/72 (which) is about $80 CAD in Canada. If you have a chance, please think about Japanese modelers or modelers in Asia. We have many enthusiastic people there."

Based on this, we took a look at the situation and re-scaled our Shuttle Main Decal Set, Early Era White Tile Set and the Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decal Set products down to 1/100 scale, so that this courageous modeler could obtain them, if he so chooses.

One big deal is the cost of printing and clear-coating. It takes just as many sheets of decal paper stock to do the "Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decal Set" in 1/100 scale, for instance, as it does to produce the 1/72 scale set, as each artwork panel for the 1/00 scale offering is 72% the size of the 1/72 scale versions. So there is simply not enough room on an 8-1/2" by 11" sheet top do more than one artwork panel, with about a quarter sheet un-printed.

This is very different from when we do the 1/144 scale sets, as most of the panels can fit four to a page, so there is a great efficiency of materials in doing those. One sheet of decal paper stock yields four sets of each finished decal page.

If we priced by the sheet, as I have traditionally done, the 1/100 scale sets will cost the same as the 1/72 scale sets, which seems "wrong" as the printed areas are smaller. So, we've adjusted the costs slightly to accommodate the smaller printed area without a big loss of revenue on the cost of materials. We're just trying to be fair...

So, we will "test the waters" with our friend from Canada. If he decides to buy the 1/100 scale sets. we may decide to offer them as regular stock items on the SpacePort store. As eBay charges for each listing on their site, we may not place the 1/100 scale offering on eBay, but direct interested parties to this website to order them.

Anyway, that's the news for now. Happy Modeling!

Entry #16 – August 21, 2016

We approach the end of Summer and it seems like we were just settling in.

While it feels like it's been a busy season, there's a lot of things that feel either "undone" or neglected, but in retrospect, I can't seem to decide what those are.

We have had some fun this Summer. We attended a Chicago White Sox game with Fox Lake friends around Pat's birthday, we did our annual journey to Road America to work on the Concours Judging crew for the International Challenge vintage sports car weekend, traveled back Peoria a number of times for family events and brewing our first beer at the new Rhodell Brewing location. Since it's a Scottish Red Rye Ale, we're going to call it "Curiosity" and label it accordingly. The bottling will come on September 17th.

They say that Labor Day is the "official" end of Summer, as it's the last big holiday before most kids go back to school. For me, it's adding an extra year on the line, as we put a "1" along with the 60 we picked up last year.

We're also starting to plan well into 2017 already, as there will be a trip to Seattle before Autumn gets too old, holiday visit to Illinois by our West Cost families and a January-February trip to Florida.

I am looking forward to both trips, as the Seattle trip will take us to see my daughter and grand-twin girls for the first time in a long while, and as a family, we're going to see the newly added Space Shuttle full-size Trainer exhibit at Boeing's Museum of Flight. we been to MoF quite a few times over the years, but this will be different.

The trip to Florida will allow us to see the Atlantis display facility for the first time, as well as be at KSC for the fifteenth anniversary of the Columbia Accident - Feb.1, 2001. It will truly be "the best of times and the worst of times" to be at KSC, but we're going all the same.

The completion of the semi-scratch-built Valley Forge allowed my to complete the last modeling project this season - a 1/72 scale Dragon Apollo-Soyuz model. While the results are typical Dragon - excellent in detail, I am very unimpressed wit the quality of the instructions, which provided virtually no guidance on how to build the Soyuz, or interface it to the Apollo model. Very untypical for Dragon to mess-up at this level.

But, we completed it all the same, and it now resides in the Lovely Apollo Room, symbolizing the end of the era.

So, here we are... 2017 sees no new all-encompassing modeling projects.

Maybe the trip to see Atlantis will;; provide enough photographic data to improve our 1/72 scale AFRSI decal offerings, and really make them a better "alternative" to the proven J&J cloth tape process, which I used on the last three 1/72 scale Orbiters and now other modelers around the globe have employed with similar success.

As for now, we found time to bring the product inventory levels of the SpacePort back up, as well as finished "recovering" a home computer we though was dead. Turned out to be a bum monitor instead of a motherboard issue. The "Zombie" computer is now resting on a new rolling stand-up computer cart - the last project to come out of the workshop.

We will take a break for a while. Ship some decal and detail sets to our customers, bottle our Red Ale and look towards the New Year. Who knows what new projects might lay in store.

Entry #15 – May 19, 2016

We've not made any updates here on "The Workbench" since back in January. That's not to say, however, that the workbench has been idle.

We finished our 1/144 scale Revell Shuttle "stack" using our newly crafted Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation (AFRSI) decals, as much as an alternative to trying to do the "tape based" AFRSI on the smaller model as anything. I thought it turned out pretty well, so I "test marketed" the AFRSI decals on eBay and here on the LCSP Webstore.

To date, we;ve had our "test case" user and one Web buyer. Both are also happy with the results and one even recommended that I "up scale" the AFRSI decals to 1/72 scale for the bigger Monogram & Revell models. We'll look into that...

We also received and completed a new 1/144 scale resin kit from Hong Kong provider, Anagrand Craftworks. The Russian "Energia" booster rocket and the "Buran" shuttle orbiter were kind of a challenge, but well-made enough, and we now have a very nice looking model of the Russian counterpart to our own Space Shuttle. The big difference - The Russian shuttle flew just once. Our Shuttle flew 135 mission before retirement.

Over the past few weeks, I have found a re-fascination with an old sci-fi movie, "Silent Running," done in 1972 by visual effects master-turned Director, Douglas Trumball, who worked for Stanley Kubrick on the classic "2001 - A Space Odyssey." The focal point of the story is a 2500-foot long American Airlines space freighter, the Valley Forge, which like her two sister ships, the Sequoia and the Berkshire, carrying "domes" which enclose and support the last vestiges of Earth's forests. A great film, then and now.

It appeared to me that of all my favorite sci-fi films, I did not have a model of the Valley Forge. So, I went looking. The only remotely available model I could find is one from "Hunk of Junk Productions." A 49-inch long (1/500 scale) mixed-media model, selling for $(damn). While I'm " on their list," they need at least 20 potential buyers to make building kits plausible. Could be a while. If you're interested, check out the link...

www.modelermagic.com/?p=31034

In lieu of that version, I was able to find a paper model created by "uhu02" of Japan. As the PDF pages containing the actual model were buried back in a long-unused web page, it took some effort to find them. In the interim, I took a plan drawing of the Valley Forge found on the Website dedicated to the vehicle and proceeded to try and create the triple-pole spars from plastic tubing, to a length that seemed more "affordable" - 23-3/4" long, or 1/1200 scale - about half the size of the HoJ model.

I then got the paper model pages "re-scaled" to match this scale and have been working on "blending" the two ideas together to make an affordable, but good looking Valley Forge.

This one's going to take a while...So, it's back to work.

Entry #14 – January 28, 2016

January 28th. The date alone causes me to think about the weird twists of fate life brings.  
Yesterday, January 27, was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Accident (1986).Today is the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire (1967).
Monday will be the 13th anniversary of the Columbia Accident (2003).
Time moves on… I remember worrying after each of those incidents, as to whether America had the resolve to continue the quest for space. Each time, after laboring through the painful memories and reams of data to find the “root cause” and correct it, we emerged to fly again – safely and successfully.  
Now, the entire Shuttle Program has been silenced. The entire program has been relegated to history. Apollo is history. And, until American free enterprise begins picking up the slack, American astronauts bound for the International Space Station will be catching their “ride to work” on a Russian bus. 
I find a strange kind of irony in this whole scenario. Back in 1984, when NASA was busy protecting the Shuttle Program from various commercial entities, foreign and domestic who wanted to get into the space launch business, we of the old L5 Society fought for the opening of the space frontier – to have government allow private enterprise the right to conduct space transportation and space commerce.
Today, the Shuttle has been “stood down” and the entire mantle of American large cargo crew access to orbital space has been thrust into the hands of private enterprise and it cannot happen soon enough.
IF the Shuttle had been able to keep its promises, would we be talking about the emergence of privately-owned space transportation? Probably not, because we would already be enjoying the benefits of low-cost, reliable access to near earth orbit. While such private efforts may have found “fertile soil” anyway, they certainly would not have had the assistance, let alone the “blessing" of the NASA we see today. Without the Shuttle Program to “protect,” NASA was forced to foster the growth of commercial space transportation, for satellites, cargo and for crew as well.These things do take time to accomplish.
However, if companies had been working at this since 1984, while the Shuttle was still operational, we would have had the redundancy needed to carry on our space activities in the absence of the Shuttle, and we may well have been on or way to a better, truly reusable spaceflight system. Of course, it’s also arguable that if the momentum of the Apollo Era had not faded into politically-jaded dissolution, we may also have been working and living on the Moon by now, as well as setting expeditions to Mars.
So many years wasted...
On the other hand, watching the people of SpaceX cheer so happily when their Falcon 9 first stage came back to rest on all four landing legs at Cape Canaveral after inserting Orbicom into a successful trajectory made me realize that “the Dream is still alive.” These people are living that dream, by the work of their own hands and the grand vision of their employer. Soon, others will celebrate their own successes, and American free enterprise will truly be on its way “to the stars.”
A moment of further reflection…
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Rice University Address – September 12, 1962

Godspeed, America.Ad Astra. 
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Entry #13 – December 24, 2015
9:00 AM, December 24, 2015
 
It's with a strange sense of both optimism and "old oaken buck" sentimentality that I see this year come to a close.
 
We've actually made some miraculous strides towards commercial space access, with the return to flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9, along with her first-ever successful booster landing, and they have also completed a successful Pad Abort Test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Blue Origin completed a 307,000 foot high test flight of their New Shepard vehicle, also concluding with a successful booster landing. And, there was the topping-off of the crew access tower for the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft at Complex 37 at the Cape.
 
And yet, Virgin Galactic has not yet recovered from the loss of Spaceship 2, to resume their proof-of-performance flights. The Orbital-ATK Antares booster is still months away fro return to flight, and the Boeing CST-100, for all the pad-prep and fanfare of the re-purposed OPF3 into the assembly and preparation site for the "Starliner," Boeing has not yet made a single test flight of the new craft.
 
However, in retrospect, it's only been four years since the Space Shuttle stopped flying, and already, there is graphic evidence of the coming Commercial Space Age evolving at KSC, SpacePort New Mexico, Wallops Island's MARS site and elsewhere.
 
Even the "hallowed ground" of Launch Complex 39A at KSC sports a new Horizontal Integration Building, as SpaceX readies the facility for their upcoming operations of both Falcon 9 (presumably with Crew Dragon atop) as well as Falcon Heavy. A similar transformation is occurring at Vandenberg, where the old Shuttle launch complex, SLC-6, is being converted to accommodate Falcon Heavy.
 
So, watch the skies... 2016 could be a "watershed" year in the history of spaceflight. We can but hope...
 
Ad Astra.

Entry #12 – November 23, 2015

Once back in Northern Illinois, we got back to work on the 1/144 scale Revell Germany ISS model, "Limited Edition" version. It's the biggest, best-valued model of the ISS that's out there, but it still has "issues" in terms of accuracy, with respect to the current configuration of the Station.


After doing a bit of research, I find that famed European spacemodeler, Vincent Meens, did work great work on his copy of the Revell ISS model, so we used his photos as the primary pattern for driving the build.


However, we did take the liberty of making a few alterations of our own.
Instead of painting the US modules, we decided to do adhesive-backed metallic foil coatings on their exterior. Once protectively "dull-coated," the look will be more authentic to the actual surface.
We also decided to take yet another queue from our friend David Maier of Edu-Craft Diversions and put some "photo-realism" into the model's solar arrays. That was the beginning of what turned into an entire suite of NASA photo-based component applications for the ISS model.


Seeing how well they went on and how good they looked, I figured others might want to use them as well, so now they are a new product offering on LakeCountySpacePort.com!!

The application set comes with all of the printed panels indicated here:

• Main ISS Solar Array applications, front & back (16 each total – no spares)
• ATV Solar Array application, front & back (8 each total - 4 each needed)
• Russian Zvezda Module Solar Array applications (2 each total – no spares)
• Russian Zarya Module Solar Array applications (2 each total – no spares)
• JAXA Kibo Lab external pallet bottom surface application (2 total – 1 needed)
• JAXA Kibo Lab external module bottom surface applications (2 total – 1 needed)
• Unity and Tranquility Open Hatch Covers (4 total – no spares)
• Cupola window applications (6 wedge-shaped, 1 round – no spares)
• Module marking plate (some spares)
• “Dot” marker panel – (many spares)
• Soyuz/Progress Solar Panel Top panels (8 each – 2 spares)
• Soyuz/Progress Solar Panel Bottom panels (8 each – 2 spares)
• 10-page instruction manual

The basic rules of use, as well as guidance on the rest of the model, is provided in a 10-page illustrate instruction manual, provided with the set.

The set is available both on eBay and the LCSP website.

Go to the Store and check it out.

Meanwhile, it's back to work. Ad Astra per Formae!!