Human Space Systems

Vehicle and Habitat Models

David Smitherman
3 min readOct 10, 2021

Over the years I found that I needed to see the scale of the transportation and habitation systems I was working with and how they relate to each other and the human scale. With this in mind I eventually found and assembled models of all human spacecraft at the same scale for use in my work with NASA as a space architect and for my own enjoyment. All models were built at 1:144 scale except my first model the Space Shuttle Columbia constructed 1:200 scale. Most of the models are still available today as model kits from Revel or Monogram.

The Saturn V on its launch pad includes the lunar lander and astronauts to scale. It is a 1:144 model kit painted to match the Apollo 11 configuration. The pad is sized to match the crawler that transports it to the pad but does not use the colors or detailing shown later with the Shuttle Atlantis.

The Skylab space station is the only custom kit using 3D printed plastic body parts, gold aluminum foil, and laser cut bronze struts. It is a 1:144 scaled model kit, painted and assembled to match the original Skylab in its repaired configuration after loosing a micrometeoroid panel and solar array during launch. It is on a clear custom stand so it appears to be floating in these images.

The Mir space station is a 1:144 scale model kit assembled and painted to show its final configuration during the Space Shuttle program when the Shuttle actually docked to the station for a joint mission.

The Space Shuttle Columbia is a 1:200 scale mode kit painted to show the configuration of the first shuttle launch in 1981. The large external tank was painted white initially but in later launches the natural ochre foam insulation color was used to save mass.

The International Space Station is a 1:144 scale model kit configured to match the final configuration planned for the early 2000s. It is not an exact match to the real configuration today, but it is close.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is a 1:144 scale model kit shown on the launch pad crawler vehicle in its launch configuration. It is painted to resemble the standard configurations for all the shuttle vehicles following the first Columbia missions.

Notes and References:

Models kits are primarily from Revel and Monogram, and assembly painting, photography and story are by David Smitherman.



David Smitherman

Retired architect and space architect from NASA. Married with a growing family. Currently into travel, historical architecture, photography and genealogy.