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Universe Spacecraft Paper Models

Right now, there are several spacecrafts exploring our Universe. You can build paper versions of many of them right here on Earth.

Paper modeling - or card modeling - is the art of constructing things with only colored, cut and folded pieces of paper. To help in constructing each model, you will need the free Adobe Reader to print the instructions and model parts. A link to adobe.com is provided with each model.

Remember: Spacecraft construction is a team activity. Get some friends and an adult to pitch in on the mission. Now pick a ship to start your space fleet (or click on the spacecraft name to find out what the mission is all about).

Build Your Own Universe Exploration Fleet

image of chandra x-ray telescope
Chandra X-Ray Telescope

This Model is Rated: Easy
68 KB PDF, 11 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

The third of the Great Observatories was launched in 1999 into Earth orbit. As one of the most sophisticated x-ray observatories ever built, it observes x-rays from high-energy regions of the Universe.
 
compton gamma ray observatory
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory


This Model is Rated: Easy
348 KB PDF, 37 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

The second of the Great Observatories was launched in 1991 into Earth orbit, and safely de-orbited in 2000. The observatory helped astronomers learn about the most powerful celestial bodies and events in the Universe. It observed gamma-ray bursts, and high temperature emissions from black holes.
 
image of Fermi
Fermi


This Model is Rated: Easy
1.9 MB PDF, 7 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope is an international multi-agency mission that launched in 2008. It is studying the cosmos looking at object that emit high energy wavelengths of light.
 
image of gravity probe b
Gravity Probe B


This Model is Rated: Moderately Challenging
6 MB PDF, 8 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

Launched in 2004 Gravity Probe B was a relativity experiment developed to test predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Using small gyroscopes, the spacecraft measured how space and time are warped by the presence of the Earth, and how the Earth’s rotation drags space-time around with it.
 
image of hubble space telescope
Hubble Space Telescope

This Model is Rated: Moderately Challenging
5.8 MB PDF, pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

The first of the Great Observatories was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery into Earth orbit in April 1990. It is the product of two decades of research and development by 10,000 scientists and engineers at various NASA centers, private companies, universities, and the European Space Agency. The purpose of Hubble is to study the cosmos from low-Earth orbit.
 
image of hubble space telescope
Hubble Space Telescope

This Model is Rated: Challenging
12.07 MB PDF, 30+ pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

This expert paper model consists of around 300 pieces and will take approximately 30 hours to complete. It has extremely accurate 3-D representations of details ranging from the cryocoolers to handrails. It reflects the state of the telescope after Servicing Mission 3B, which took place in March 2002.
 
image of james webb space telescope
James Webb Space Telescope


This Model is Rated: Easy
3.3 MB PDF, 35 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

Launching in 2014, the JWST will be the premier infrared telescope of the next decade. An international collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), JWST will study from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems.
 
image of kepler telescope
Kepler


This Model is Rated: Easy
713 KB PDF, 12 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

Launched in 2009, the Kepler mission detects Earth-sized planets orbiting other stars. Kepler is poised to find planets 30 to 600 times less massive than Jupiter.
 
image of RXTE telescope
Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE)


This Model is Rated: Easy
196 KB GIF, 2 files, one page each
Requires software that reads GIF files (e.g., Firefox)
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

The Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) looks at the physics of cosmic X-ray sources by making sensitive measurements of their changes. This tells scientists about the structure of white-dwarf stars, x-ray binaries, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes. RXTE was launched on December 30, 1995.
 
image of spitzer space telescope
Spitzer Space Telescope


This Model is Rated: Moderately Challenging
1.6 MB PDF, 15 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper
Lego and 3-D computer models also available

The fourth of the great observatories was launched in 2003 into trailing Earth orbit. Spitzer detects infrared energy, or heat, radiated by objects.
 
image of swift telescope
Swift


This Model is Rated: Moderately Challenging
15.2 MB PDF, 32 pages
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

Launched in 2004, the Swift spacecraft is in Earth orbit. Swift detects gamma-ray bursts and then relays the burst’s location to ground stations, allowing both ground-based and space-based telescopes around the world the opportunity to observe the burst’s afterglow.
 
image of wise telescope
WISE


This Model is Rated: Easy
148 KB PDF, 1 page
Requires Adobe Reader
It will print on 8 1/2 x 11 paper

Launched in 2009, the WISE spacecraft is in Earth orbit. Using an infrared-sensitive telescope, WISE studies the coolest and dimmest stars, asteroids, and the most luminous galaxies.