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I decided about a month ago I wanted my son, Orion, to be an astronaut. He’s not old enough yet to tell me what he wants to be, which is nice for now. Along with his astronaut costume, I really wanted to do a DIY spacecraft he’d be able to use as he grew.
I love Halloween. I worry I will go all out for each Halloween for my kids. This can be fun yet stressful!
I started with the idea of making a flat cardboard Orion using our Radio Flyer tricycle. In August, I went to a test of the Orion spacecraft so I’ve been very inspired since.
I told my husband, John, about the plan. He was all on board.
Except he wanted it to be full 3d, completely surrounding the tricycle. I told him it was an incredible project to take on and he volunteered to engineer the skeleton as long as I did the designing when he was finished his part.
Making The Spacecraft Skeleton
John went to Home Depot for ideas on what he could do. He decided on using PVC pipe and used his drill and PVC glue/primer to make the bones.
The Orion spacecraft is round, so John did his best to make the front and back of the DIY spacecraft as round as he could. We decided to have flat sides for mobility.
Using just one screw in the bar, John was able to have the rest of the skeleton resting on different parts of the Radio Flyer tricycle.
Adding The Sides
Once John finished with the bones, he once again took charge and decided he wanted to try his hand at using wood to make the muscle of the DIY spacecraft.
He bought a 4×8 piece of 5mm sheathing and used about three quarters for the sides.
He is self admittedly not very good with wood, so the edges were a bit jagged and uneven. We decided to forge ahead knowing no one was going to see the inside. I could design on the outside over the wood and make the outside even.
During the process, we thought out DIY spacecraft looked more like the space shuttle than an Orion. John added wings that could flip up for transport. We later changed our minds after mulling it over and went with our original plan of an Orion spacecraft.
Designing The Spacecraft Outside
I used white paper that measured 30″ tall. Being a self proclaimed world class gift wrapper, I decided paper was the way to go and used art glue to attach the paper.
With my special set of wrapping skills, I set out to wrap the structure.
It was not as easy as I thought it would be and decided that a second layer would be needed where I could fix my paper mistakes.
Once the paper and the glue had dried one day, I printed out an image of the front and back of Orion and got to work. I used a baby bottles for the circles and various sized children’s books for the rest of the shapes. I didn’t have a ruler that I used in Fashion Design school, so I made do with what I had laying around the house.
I printed out images of the NASA and Orion logo and glued them on first before I used the black paint so I knew where I could draw.
First, I did the bottom heat shield, then filled in the windows and other spots.
Taking The Spacecraft Outside
We went to the Udvar Hazy Smithsonian Museum for their annual “Air & Scare” event so our deadline was one week before Halloween.
We received a lot of compliments on our craft as we walked around the museum!
Orion was a good sport and smiled for a lot of photos.
The Radio Flyer tricycle was so easy to maneuver. I’d recommend it to everyone! Knowing Ri loves his tricycle, it made it the easiest transport option we have to choose from.
I can’t wait to take it out again next week.
Being able to actually turn this into something else in the future is on my mind. Maybe a tank? A race car?
Have you completed a project similar to our Orion spacecraft? Share below!