If you have access to a 3D printer, then you can build your own space fleet courtesy of NASA – provided you don’t mind spacecraft that are plastic and four inches long. As part of its continuing program of education and outreach, the space agency has released 22 printable models of NASA and European space probes, asteroids, and planetary landscapes for the hobbyist and space enthusiast.
The 3D models are available from the NASA website for free and are printable on any desktop 3D printer using plastic filaments. It’s the latest in a long tradition of NASA science, technology artwork made available to the public going back to its founding in 1958.
This particular program uses adaptations of 3D models that were developed for other purposes for NASA, such as the study of the structure of the Eta Carinae nebula. NASA often produces such models for educational videos, project proposals, or simply because such models are often necessary due to many astronomical objects and NASA machines being hard to visualize.
The models on offer were made by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ames Research Center, Johnson Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Ball Aerospace, and Caltech. They includes 3D representations of unmanned spacecraft, asteroids, and planetary surfaces. Many of the models are adaptations from other purposes, so the space agency says that a bit of trial and error may be needed to configure them so they’ll print properly. The files are .stl-formatted and are scaled to about 4 in (100 mm) on their longest dimension.