Plastic Model Emulates the First Untethered Spacewalk

Here’s something really wonderful. [Dave Akerman] wrote up the results of his attempt to use a high-altitude balloon to try to re-create a famous image of NASA’s Bruce McCandless floating freely in space with the Earth in the background. [Dave] did this in celebration of the 34th anniversary of the first untethered spacewalk, even going so far as to launch on the same day as the original event in 1984. He had excellent results, with plenty of video and images recorded by his payload.

80’s “Astronaut with MMU” model kit.

Adhering to the actual day of the spacewalk wasn’t the only hurdle [Dave] jumped to make this happen. He tracked down an old and rare “Astronaut with MMU” (Mobile Maneuvering Unit) plastic model kit made by Revell USA and proceeded to build it and arrange for it to remain in view of the cameras. Raspberry Pi Zero Ws with cameras, LoRA hardware, action cameras, and a UBlox GPS unit all make an appearance in the balloon’s payload.

Sadly, [Bruce McCandless] passed away in late 2017, but this project is a wonderful reminder of that first untethered spacewalk. Details on the build and the payload, as well as the tracking system, are covered here on [Dave]’s blog. Videos of the launch and the inevitable balloon burst are embedded below, but more is available in the summary write-up.

For anyone who might end up in a situation of needing to re-create NASA hardware, this is a reminder that NASA released an enormous number of 3D models and textures for free on GitHub.

17 thoughts on “Plastic Model Emulates the First Untethered Spacewalk

  1. What happens if you’re sick in a space suit? —- Or worse still… The space curry you had the night before works its magic on your lower intestines?

    Best not think about it.

    There’s a lot to be said for Terrafirma.

    1. Lower intestines (and the bladder) are taken care of Depends…heck, the modern-type ones (with sodium acrylate) were specifically invented for the manned space program.
      As for stomach problems – that would be very, very bad. As evidenced with the water leak incidents, fluids in microgravity have this nasty tendency to ball up and stick to things, namely the poor astronauts face – so he’d be facing a real danger of suffocation.

  2. * Revell:

    Headquarters: Elk Grove Village, Illinois

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revell

    * Revell Parent Company – Hobbico:

    Headquarters: Champaign, Illinois

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobbico

    On January 10, 2018, it was announced that Hobbico had filed for bankruptcy protection.

    * Hobbico seeking a buyer as it works through bankruptcy [11 January 2018]:

    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2018-01-11/hobbico-seeking-buyer-it-works-through-bankruptcy.html

    How sad. A sign of the times… Between the ADDICTION of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., I guess kids these days have no time to sit down and build a model kit.

    Or maybe Revell/Hobbico missed the boat? Perhaps they should have tied their name to stupid products sold in McDonald Happy Meals, and/or the intellectually EMPTY Commic-Book Franchises like Marvel, DC, Pokemon, Hello Kitty (on-and-on).

    I remember building Revell models of cutting-edge aircraft and rockets many years ago and dreaming I would build such things too when I grow up. (I did, I’m an EE working mostly in space-based communications).

    If I was a kid today and one of my peers caught me building a scale plastic rocket model, I would likely be ridiculed as a NERD. How sad.

    But to be fair, there are probably a few youngsters left in the U.S. which aspire to be more. They’re probably playing something like Kerbal Space Program right now instead of Sexting – while trying to NOT be caught playing KSP!

  3. this is obviously a hoax. I mean you can see the curve of the earth in the photo and everyone knows the earth is flat….

    No, really nice photos and more proof of the quackery that is the Flat Earth Society. very cool.

  4. I watched a couple of the flight segments.
    Nice. Just the natural noises of what was happening.
    Thank you for bucking the trend of putting music over everything.
    I recently watched a video “Heroes of Hell’s Highway – Welcome to Afghanistan E01”
    and they actually subtitled the dialogue because the (over wrought hyperbolic) music was set so much louder than the native audio.
    I was truly puzzled at the producers choice to do this.
    The video would have been much better with a lower level for the music… and actually less of the (overblown) music, period, would be better.

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