Model spaceships

This, my friends, is an image showing several of the most notable spacecraft we plucky human beings have created (and are busily creating) to date. The past, the present, and the ones that never quite made it. All spacecraft shown are to scale (assuming my sources were accurate). Because I felt I needed to exercise my graphic design muscles. And because, well, let’s face it – space ships are just inherently cool, aren’t they?


Click to aggrandise muchly!

The only one I wasn’t certain of was “Rus”, officially named the Perspektivnaya Pilotiruemaya Transportnaya Sistema (PPTS) — Russia’s successor to the Soyuz (now officially the most successful spacecraft ever constructed). No information seems to be available on the exact size of it, so I had to estimate based on crew capacity and the size of the launch vehicle.

Wasn’t the Shuttle something? The largest and most sophisticated spacecraft ever crafted, and the only spaceplane ever built which successfully carried crew members into orbit. Of interest though, is Skylon. Intended to be a single stage spaceplane, it’s been drafted from the ashes of the troubled HOTOL concept from the 1980s. For now though, I fear I’ll have to remain optimistically skeptical on that one.

Oh… And if you feel like seriously geeking out, click here. I drew the others, so I thought I might as well!

 I know, I know, the component of the shuttle shown here is technically the Space Shuttle Orbiter. The folks who work at NASA like it if you get that part right.

Images are Creative Commons Attribution Required –
Feel free to use them, as long as you link back here to me, ok?


DEFINITIVE EDIT– So firstly, thank you all for stopping by and commenting, and thanks to io9, Gizmodo and Boing Boing for featuring me! I have a couple of general things to say to the massive response these images have had…

Firstly, much kudos for this cool remix of my image, made by doctorheredoctor @ reddit. Check it out. It’s good. And systematic.

So when I do re-make this graphic (which I shall), I have a list of things to fix/include:

  • Soviet Buran (by popular request)
  • Lunar Module
  • Other space stations
  • Unmanned craft (ATV, Progress, etc…)
  • Sierra Nevada Dreamchaser (and other craft in development)
  • X-15
  • Fix the size of the VentureStar
  • Use the original Enterprise in future because no one likes the new one!
I kinda feel obliged now. Anything else? Leave a comment. And watch this space.
(No pun intended).
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About invaderxan

Molecular astrophysicist, usually found writing frenziedly, staring at the sky, or drinking mojitos.
This entry was posted in Imported from Livejournal, space and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

117 Responses to Model spaceships

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  4. Jada Andrzejczak says:

    At the International Space Station ISS repairs are often needed on the exterior, the problem is it is a lot of work to send out a manned space walk to do this. Astronauts need oxygen and they have the problems of human error. Yet if we use robots, well they do not complain, unless programmed too. Robots in fact could spend months to fix something, astronauts five day space walk missions are about all we can muster right now and if we cannot get it done in time, imagine the cost for another launch. What about Fatigue factors, which take a toll on the organic components of the human body? Costs to send up a space crew to do repairs can be millions if not billions of dollars.^

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  5. Erik says:

    Hey, I like the new Trek films, as well as the classics! I heard that the ship in the 2009 movie is significantly bigger than the original (I guess it would have to be to fit some of those ridiculous interior spaces). Instead of removing it, wouldn’t it be much more interesting to add the original enterprise alongside it so that their scales could be compared as well. I don’t mean to put too much sci-fi into something that’s supposed to focus on real spacecraft, but it would be cool.

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  10. zombiemaster5 says:

    I believe the CST size is also off. It should be a bit smaller. For space stations, don’t forget MOL, Liberty and the theoretical chinese station for 2020 timeframe :).

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  12. Ares Fan says:

    What about the Ares I-X? Please add it. Thank you.

    • invaderxan says:

      As much as I’d love to, the Ares I-X isn’t a spacecraft. It’s a launch vehicle. In other words, it wouldn’t fit on this diagram, and I don’t want to start adding rockets, because there are a lot which I could include!

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  14. flavio says:

    I think the size of hermes is wrong. It should be much smaller than the shuttle or venture star…

    • invaderxan says:

      Remember, it’s a silhouette. The wing area is fairly large, but the vehicle itself is quite small. All the same, if you think I’ve drawn it the wrong size, please feel free to help me find a technical document or specification with the planned dimensions. In fact, I’d love it if someone could verify it for me (someone already pointed out an error in the size of VentureStar).

  15. alanapaints says:

    Serenity would really be nice.
    Also, am I blind? There is no scale that I can see. Would love to get an idea of the size [metric is fine; I may be a Merican (or is it Americian?) but I can shoehorn my brain into compliance with the international standards of measurement]

    • invaderxan says:

      Serenity… Again, it’s about fact rather than fiction, so I’d rather not tbh.

      A scale bar is an interesting idea though. While relative sizes let you compare, it’s true that a scale bar would give an absolute measure. In case you were wondering if a Mercury capsule could fit inside your bathroom. (Incidentally, chances are it probably could. It was small enough… And metric would kinda make more sense, but if I was making a scale bar, I suppose I could do both.

  16. Cyrano de Bergerac says:

    Dear Invader Xan,

    Considering your quality as a man of science, I’m disappointed to see that you may lead people to think that these spaceships and stations are real. Who ever heard of “Soyouz”, “Apollo” or “Shenzhou” to name a few ?
    Wouldn’t it be more educative to draw the real world space ships ? Like the Serenity, the Battlestar Galactica or the Nostromo ?

    Oh gotta go now, nurses found me out. I’ll have to go back to the padded cell.
    Live long and prosper !

    PS : Nice job :)

    • Cyrano de Bergerac says:

      EDIT : Argh ! Earlier someone already posted about…

    • invaderxan says:

      Haha! Well, you know. We can’t have people believing that things like Soyuz are real. Who knows what might happen!

      Seriously though, I don’t want to add any more fictional starships. The point to this was real craft – the internet has enough comparisons of fictional ships already.

      Ps: Merci! :)

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  18. Markus says:

    Since you added the Dragon Capsule, please also add the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Transfer_Vehicle!
    Please add Skylab too.

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  23. Brent says:

    Please add Skylab.

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