Shop our Airplanes Products Drone Products Sales
Thread Tools
This thread is privately moderated by burkefj, who may elect to delete unwanted replies.
Nov 28, 2011, 12:45 AM
Registered User
burkefj's Avatar

1:40 scale RC rocket boosted space shuttle orbiter

I've been secretly working on a space shuttle over the holiday, in between working on my 72" tall Pershing 1A rocket.

I'll be posting pics and progress as I go along. 26" ws and 35" long, approx 13.5 oz rtf planned.

This will be a full fuse, cockpit will be laminated depron sanded to shape and nose will be a two angle piece to give it an approximate shape, because I'm too lazy to do a multi piece compound curve and am trying to keep it simple. The rear oms will be a tapered half round to give an approximate look, but is not meant to be an absolutely correct scale profile.

The only carbon is the wing spar 1/8" carbon tube, and 1/8" carbon strip to stiffen the vertical tail.

I added formers to aid in getting the payload bay shape and also added depron strips to help locate the fuse sides in place.

I'm using some rocket nose cones cut off and glued on to the back as placeholders for nozzles till I find something the right size or make something better.

Made more progress last night, finished the other side. I was really not happy with the cockpit so I re-worked it using four pieces of 3mm depron, two sides, a wraparound, and a cap. It looks much better. I also discovered that the 3-view I had used was really crappy, and I reworked the OMS rear end a bit.

I also did some of the markings using trim monokote and will only need to paint the bottom flat black, and use a flat overspray over the monokote.

****Reflections and Notes******

I'm sort of torn on this model. The Shuttle never really grabbed me and that's why I didn't do one before. On this particular model, my bad habbit of liking to do things freehand for the most part, sort of caught up with me and I had a few things with small misalignment, nothing major, but I notice them...

I like to keep things simple and on this model, there are some fundamental shapes that are pretty characteristic and if not done right, it just looks stupid. I'm also not a great carver, so hacking out shapes out of foam isn't my bag. I think I sort of salvaged the cockpit, and the OMS came out OK but there are several other ways to approximate the OMS and mine is just one way. Point is, don't hate me because I didn't shape things a certain way, I made a tradeoff between simplicity of parts, difficulty of assembly and look. In some cases I think it works, in some cases, well, you can make up your own mind.

If I do post plans, I think I'm going to leave out the cockpit details and leave it up to the user to implement. You could just carve a block to shape and insert it into the fuse cutout for the cockpit.

I also wanted to keep the wing flat bottom, so the nose shape doesn't round up as much as scale, again, if you want to hack off the nose and carve a block to the correct shape, that would work as well.

In addition, I wanted to keep the motor thrust line right along the wing, so the motor is mounted low. In order to support the motor mount, I had to extend the OMS and rear end a bit so that the rear former would support the mount. It also allows the rear mud flap outline to exist but not be burned off by the motor exhaust. So, if looking from the top or side, the OMS and rear end is longer than scale and the vertical tail is as well to keep the relative proportions the same.

So, it isn't scale, but it does look like a shuttle and hopefully will quack(fly) like a shuttle or better

On the plus side it did give me a chance to play around with forming depron around curved formers so I learned a bit about that.

Stay tuned for further updates to the finishing/markings and eventually to a flight review. I did complete the forward and rearward CG glides so I think those are bracketed correctly.

Painted the nose gray tonight as well as doing a few more extra markings. Did the final weigh and it is 13.5 oz with loaded motor. Also just broke down and rolled some SSME nozzles out of 3mm depron, tracing a plate as a form, and a glass as the inside radius, cutting out half of it, and making a tab out of 3mm as well and gluing them together, worked fine.

I decided that since this wasn't an exact model, I didn't want to name it after an existing (or former shuttle) Too morbid. So I picked "Intrepid", another ship name, that invokes the same sort of feeling as the "endeavor", my other choice would have been Reliant...

Update 12/03/2011, 2 successful test flights today. A bit of head wind prevented a super-high boost, and the first flight I had too much up trim for post boost glide, but CG was perfect. It pitched toward the back on initial boost off the rod, I think due to the head wind, but a gentle stick command pitched it right back vertical and was not a problem. My daughter over-reacted a bit during the video and it makes it look worse than it was.

Youtube video posted at:

Scratch built Depron Space Shuttle, radio controlled rocket boosted glider (1 min 24 sec)

Plans, part 1 at:

Last edited by burkefj; Oct 19, 2012 at 01:05 AM.
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Dec 02, 2011, 10:26 PM
3 Strykers,your out !
junglegym's Avatar
Really nice job
Dec 03, 2011, 09:32 AM
Plane Destroyer / Life Enjoyer
airbagit13's Avatar
Yeah, looks great!
Dec 04, 2011, 05:08 PM
Registered User
seeingeyegod's Avatar
Dec 06, 2011, 09:52 PM
Registered Plan-a-holic
Hepdog's Avatar
Nicely done.

What I find really interesting is your build method is almost identical to what I did 6 years ago - I guess it's either great minds think alike or there's only so many ways to skin a cat.

How did you find the CofG change when the motor burns out? Did it make a difference?
Dec 07, 2011, 01:31 AM
Registered User
burkefj's Avatar
Hi, that is funny, I didn't even look at your construction technique ahead of time....

My boost CG is a bit forward of the curve where the wings change angle, and the burnout cg is ahead of that, other than a good amount of uptrim for glide, it doesn't seem adversely affected. I might be able to move it back, but it works and I don't want to kill it.


My X-37 didn't work out so well, so I chopped off the back end and the wings, reshaped the front, added a new rear former, a tail and am almost done turning it into a Buran, almost the same size as the shuttle, but an ounce lighter and a slightly bigger wing area. I was able to push the mount mount more forward on the Buran. I made a new wing, glued it to the bottom of the original fuse after cutting lightening holes and voila. I think it will allow me to round the front more as well. So basically I salvaged the rounded fuse portion that I worked so hard on and that came out nicely.

Apr 18, 2012, 06:59 AM
Registered User

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Question Is this illegal??? (RC sidwinder missle (Rocket boosted!)) mudbutt Foamies (Scratchbuilt) 29 Mar 08, 2011 07:43 PM
Discussion Space Shuttle rocket glider bwolfe Rocketry 18 Aug 09, 2006 07:40 PM
Discussion Huge R/C (Radio Control) Rocket Power 86" Space Shuttle IwantaJet Electric Sailplanes 2 Jun 04, 2006 06:58 PM