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Try It At Home: Build your own satellite (paper model)!

One of the things we do a lot of at NASA Goddard is build satellites. Many, many missions have come through here to be either constructed, or tested, or both!

But did you know that you can build your own versions of many of these missions? Ok, maybe they won’t be life-sized, but some of these paper models are pretty cool! We’ve featured a few of them in this post.

First up is the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, a small X-ray satellite that allows scientists to studying the timing of objects like neutron stars and black holes.

RXTE model

The James Webb Space Telescope will be a giant infrared space telescope that will be able to see the first stars and galaxies formed in our universe. It’s kind of odd-looking, so it makes an interesting model.

Nina Heimpel, from Swales Aerospace, developed a model for us.

JWST model designed by Nina Heimpel, Swales Aerospace.


Model building John Jogerst modified our model, and sent us .pdfs of his directions and modified parts. John is a real pro at modeling – check out this gallery of his spacecraft paper models.

JWST model made by John Jogerst.
Credit: John Jogerst

Fermi is a gamma-ray space telescope that studies black holes, neutron stars, and other sources of high-energy gamma rays.


This list of models with difficulty ratings seems pretty complete. You can find Chandra, Hubble, Swift, and more!

If you’ve got more suggestions, tell us in the comments or on our Facebook. If you want to share photos of models you’ve done, let us know that too!

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  • Dave says:

    Whoa. That is so cool. When I was a child I used to build model rockets and satellites. My parents bought me a paper back book that had paper templates inside which you were supposed to cut out and build into a model satellite. This is the coolest model building I’ve ever seen. I’m looking more into this right now. Let me know how you make out.

  • canvas prints says:

    I have to admit i was little disappointed to read “paper model” :) cool all the same

  • brendabernier says:

    radiation in space huh?

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