Making A Cardboard Space Shuttle

The Endeavour Flies again!

This Halloween I was determined to finally live out my dreams of paying homage to my favorite reusable spaceplane! I didn’t really know what I was getting into, but I felt like with enough cardboard, tape, glue, and razorblades I would be able to craft a wearable cardboard space shuttle that would perhaps rival Rockwell’s excellent craftsmanship, but for a fraction of the cost.

Like all good engineering projects I started it off by making a rough 3d model. I was trying to find how I could make a shuttle out of the least amount of polygons. Here is my original Blender model (grid not to scale)

It started out with the basic wing shape. I cut a baseplate from cardboard and then folded a fuselage on top. I then added some thickness to the wings by cutting two additional pieces and slicing them a bit so that they formed a slanted surface and some flaps.

Inside I played 3 cardboard bulkheads to strengthen the body. Because of this I wasn’t able to make the payload bay accessible. But I felt that airframe strength was priority. I originally wanted a way to hide a bottle of wine inside. But RIP.

I then glued together a crew cabin and a nose cone by measuring some rectangular pieces. It was surprising sturdy. I think the triangular shape really helped the rigidness. or perhaps it was just the mountain of Tacky Glue I used. I cut a hole in the top of the body to slide a fin through. The fin is now anchored to one of the interior bulkheads and glued in place. And finally I cut some tiny orbital thrusters out of some left over pieces and tape glued them in place.

Here be the blank Shuttle. You can see its fairly large.

I used some small paper party cups for the main engines and attached then to the rear bulkhead. And then I cut small orbital engines out of paper and glued them all in place. They are fairly flimsy but the glue made them extremely sturdy considering. Then I began to paint it. I used used some craft glue that was matte black. And I followed the paint scheme of the Discovery Orbiter.

The shuttle would not be complete with out tiny flags and Nasa logos. So I went ahead and carefully spelled out U N I T E D S T A T E S in my most 5th grade science fair font, and christened her “The Endeavour”. Named for the shuttle here in Los Angeles.

I bought some straps on amazon and carefully cut a backplate out of an Ikea placemat. I didn’t want the shuttle the bear the stress of the straps. So it sits on this plastic mat, attached by hooks. Here you can see me doing a test fit.

And here is the final Shuttle! She turned out way better than I expected and I cant wait to wear her this Halloween. I hope she hold up because after her first two missions/parties, I want to hang her on the wall.