Lake County SpacePort 

                                                                                       "Ad Astra per Formae"

"The Workbench"

July 20, 2015.
We've returned from a great weekend, judging great cars, withe great friends and having great meals at the 2015 Hawk vintage sports car event at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Today was spent taking care of all the things left before the big weekend unfolded and getting ready for the rest of the workweek ahead.
But...there's something else that happened on this date, 46 years ago, that has not lost its significance to me.
LM-5, the "Eagle," withe Commander Neil Armstrong and LM Pilot Edwin Aldrin aboard, set down on Mare Tranquilitatis - the Sea of Tranquility. The very first time humans had landed beyond the "shores" of their home planet, to reach the Moon.
This flight, Apollo 11, was the end product of the hard work, testing and trial by flight of the entire Saturn/Apollo system, and the labor of over 400,000 American workers, engineers and technicians who designed, tested, built and finally assembled, checked and launched the vehicles into space. 
It was the singular, cardinal step in the expansion of Man's horizons beyond the shores of Earth.
We returned five more times, bringing back more and more diverse sample of lunar material, establishing scientific monitoring stations at each landing site and conducted the first serious geological evaluation of another celestial body.
Now, 46 years later, we have not set foot upon the Moon's surface since 1972. While we have conducted, and continue to conduct, manned space operations in Earth orbit for both scientific research as well as economical investigations, and while we have just recently finished the reconnaissance of all the major bodies of our Solar System, we are actually further away from being able to land on the Moon than we were in 1961, when President Kennedy challenged to nation to achieve that goal.
Politics created Project Apollo, and politics caused its end. Only when we regard the continued expansion of mankind as something more than a "contest" between nations or political systems, will we find the continuity of purpose to go back to Moon, establish ourselves there and use that establishment as a stepping stone to the rest of the Solar System.
As we approach the 50 anniversary of Apollo 11's first lunar landing, why not resolve to return to Mare Tranquilitatis, not to visit, but to stay. The knowledge of operating a human habitat only two-days away from Home might be a very valuable thing, as we sit and contemplate going to Mars.
It's time to return to the Moon.

Entry 45 - July 11, 2024

So far, the year of 2024 has been one of incredible events mixed with a great sense of loss. This year has seen the unfortunate necessity to return to amend our Wall of Heroes far too often. With increasing frequency, we are watching the most prolific generation of space heroes fading into History.

Dr. William Thornton, Mr. Lee Solid. Richard Truly, Thomas Stafford, George Abbey, William Anders, Dr. Ed Stone, and now Joe Engle had to be added to the Wall. 

We will soon celebrate the 55th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first Lunar Landing. 

All this, plus we still have to mobilize the "troops" of civic duty to insure that 2024 does not also see the death of American Democracy.

For many of us who are true students of history, we see the way things can go badly and work to prevent the mistakes of the past be replicated in the events of the future. But there are those "Americans," and I use that term loosely, who seem eager to dismiss anything they cannot or do not wish to understand, in support of their own warped agenda. 

For the sake of all those American Heroes who gave of themselves to improve our nation and our quality of life, we cannot allow Democracy to be jeapordaized by a new set of authoritarians. Unless this nation is willing to remain "the home of the Brave," we will no longer be "the Land of the Free." Please, God, VOTE. It matters more than you know.




Entry 44 - April 18, 2024

What a fantastic pair of weeks that was!

We started with a trip out to Erie, Pennsylvania to visit old friends who live there and be in the “path of totality” for the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of April 8th. With overcast skies all morning long, it didn’t really look like the show would be worthwhile, but right about 2:45 PM, the high clouds started to break away and the Sun-Moon conjunction was in full view at 3:18 PM when Totality occurred! In full view!!


After Erie, I traveled to Central Florida to attend “Shuttle Fest 3,” conducted by the American Space Museum and Walk of Fame, at the Hyatt Place Hotel in Titusville, Florida.

WOW! I had hoped to meet some incredible people from the Shuttle Era, but seriously, I feel like I’ve been dipped in “holy waters.” Here’s the list of people I had a chance to meet:

Nick Thomas                                  Educational Director, KSCVC

Marty Winkle                                  Retired Shuttle Prop. Eng. and Grumman – Apollo, LM

John-David Bartoe                         Astronaut, SpaceLab ASTRO 1 Mission

Michael Haddad                             Shuttle L4 Engineer, Payload Test & Integration

Scott Vangan                                 Shuttle L4 Engineer, Payload Test & Integration

Terry White                                    Retired Shuttle Orbiter Processing Facility Manager

Luis Delgado                                  NASA Shuttle Payload Engineer

Robert Cabana                               Shuttle Astronaut (four missions), former KSC Director

Robert “Bob” Sieck                         NASA Shuttle Launch Director (52 missions)

Chris Calle                                     Space Artist

Tim Gagnon                                   “KSCArtist,” patch designs & other works

Ron Woods                                    Apollo-Era Artist, retired Apollo Spacesuit Technician

Tom Usiack                                    Professional photographer, space launch photographer

Carelton Bailey                              Professional photographer, space launch photographer

Kevin Brown                                  Former NASA Contractor Eng, current CEO, “All Points”

Burt Dicht                                      Membership Director, National Space Society

Josn Dzugen                                 Electrical Engineer, Vaya Space

John Zarrella                                 Former USA Today & CNN Space Coast Bureau Chief

J.L. Pickering                                Space History Photographer & Author

John Bisney                                  Space History Author

Cliff Watson                                  Fellow "Space Geek" from Pomona, Australia

Janes Centroe                              Former NASA/Martin Engineer

Bill & Lori Whiting                         Loyal friends of the American Space Museum

And especially, my new friends, Mr. Mark Marquette, Community Outreach Director and Ms. Karen Conklin, Executive Administrator of the American Space Museum in Titusville. Thank you for conducting this incredible event! 

Of course, I also made time to return to the KSC Visitors Complex, as well as other favorite Space Coast locations I had enjoyed in previous visits and beyond.

So, now that we've come home, I guess it’s “Back to Work.”

Entry 44 - January 25, 2024

It's been a long winter at the SpacePort thus far, but a lot of goof has come from work accomplished. 

We solidified our "partnership" relationship with the American Space Museum and Walk of Fame in Titusville, Florida, committing the SpacePort to giving 5% of its annual Sales amount to the Museum to help continue its work of preservation, education and inspiration of today's young people, so they may continue to blaze the our path into the future.

We have also attempted to re-create the AMP (Australia) Shuttle Flight Deck Window Set product, by completing an initial set of 3D-printed window frames and templates in the original 1/72 scale, but also in 1/100 and 1/144 scales. We have since sent out over a dozen sets, in all three scales, to interested modelers, who were anxious to be on the "first wave." We are now working to set up a more formalized production process, employing our newly-acquired Creality CR-Laser Falcon laser cutter & engraver. That work continues. 

In the midst of all this, we find ourselves once more at the time of year that pulls hardest on our hearts - the time of rememberance for those fallen heroes of the Space Program. The crews of Apollo 1, STS-51-L (Challenger) and STS-107 (Columbia). I am reminded of the words spoken on-orbit by STS-26 Commander Frederick Hauck, aboard Orbiter Discovery, on the last full day of the Return to Flight mission. 

"Dear friends, we have resumed the journey that we promised to continue for you; dear friends, your loss has meant that we could confidently begin anew; dear friends, your spirit and your dream are still alive in our hearts."

Godspeed, Dear Friends.

Entry 43 - November 10, 2023

It's been a couple of months since my last entry.

Even though there haven't been many updates posted here, the late Summer - early Autumn has not been too laid back.

A spate of activities impinged themselves into our time. Like a slow-running shower drain, which evolved into a main sewer line repair. The constant running battle between failing leaves and my trying to stay ahead of them. We also had a major car club event, as well as a granddaughter's wedding take up most od October.

November has been a time of some reflection, and indeed, some sorrow, as two icons of the American Space Program have left us this month. Thomas "Ken" Mattingly and Frank Borman have both passed away in recent days.The remaining number of Gemini & Apollo heroes grows smaller, still. They say that Time & Tide wait for no man. I guess it's true.

Along the course of the past two weeks, we've kept busy filling Spaceport orders and printing out parts for our newest project - the Robert James Models 1/144 scale "Cosmonaut Alexi Leonov," the Russian spacecraft seen in the film "2010 - The Year We Made Contact." I had acquired a 1/350 scale version of the Leonov from Shapeways some time ago, and while it is a nice little model, it cannot provided the intense detail that the larger 1/144 scale version does. So, the new. bigger Leonov is well in work. 

Soon, the weather will become colder still and Winter will officially settle into Northern Illinois. For at least a couple weeks in December, the wife and I will be traveling to Tacoma, Washington, to celebrate my daughter's birthday, and then down to Scottsdale, Arizona, to see extended family and friends. But, there will still be plenty of Winter left for us when we get back. 

Entry 42 - August 11, 2023

How time flies!

I have not updated the Workbench since January. Our 11th anniversary year is over half-way done! While it has been a "different" situation in my "post-retirement" environment, it certainly has not been quite or boring.

SpacePort activity has been fairly consistent, Orders have come in both by eBay and though the Web Store from various locations across the country and other countries as well. 

Our two cats have taken up "gymnastics" from time to time, and their bouncing from floor to display shelf has caught my "ire" on more than one occasion, so I finally decided to put one of the most fragile large models I have "under glass." This summer saw the delivery and use of a new acrylic display case for our 1/144 scale Revell ISS model, to completely protect it from any further "incursions."

We were fortunate enough to take part in the Los Angeles "Yuri's Night" celebration, which was held at the California Science Center's Oschin Space Pavilion, in the shadow of Orbiter "Endeavour" on April 8th. It was an incredible experience, where we got to meet many interesting and important people, such as space artist Doug Forest, Star Trek NextGen actors Denise Crosby (Lt. Tasha Yar), Robert Picardo (Holographic Doctor), Gates McFadden (Dr. Crusher), and John deLancy ("Q"). Along with all that, we heard presentations from NASA Astronaut Jessica Watkins, and Inspiration 4 Astronaut Sian Proctor. My son, Erik, even bumped into Walter Koenig (Star Trek Ens.Chekhov) and Star Trek model master Doug Jones. Erik had volunteered for Yuri's Night in 2022, so he was on the "short list" of reliables for this year's event.  What an incredible evening!!

In June, we visited old friends in Tennessee. In July, we had a number of "collector car" related events to attend. So, August has been a time of relative quite and "catching up," like rebuilding the inventory fore the SpacePort. 

There's a 50th (WHAT!) high-school class reunion coming up, as well as trip out to Tacoma in December to celebrate my daughter's birthday. We'll head to Scottsdale, Arizona afterwards, to visit other family and friends.

We're already looking ahead into 2024. There's a total solar eclipse we've going to Pennsylvania to witness and then there is "Shuttle Fest 2024 in Titusville the weekend following. We're already planning on what to take along to promote the SpacePort.

Yup, There's never nothing to do around here...

Entry 41 - January 11, 2023
In January of 2012, I initiated a new website dedicated to the spacemodeling work I had done for years previously, and the new works I was both engaged in and would become involved with going forward.

I had previously submitted build articles on various Sci-Fi and Real World space models to other websites for publication in their reader's contributions blogs, only to find that many of them were not even looked at, let alone published. I grew tired of wasting my time.

While I might not be as talented as some of the other modeler's out there, I did feel as if my projects could assist others engaged in similar projects, who might also be facing some of the same decisions in their builds. So I felt our photos and write-ups would have merit to "someone."

Plus, the new website provided a more direct means of decal customers to connect with us, other than just our presence on eBay. While eBay does provide an accessible platform for a wide spectrum of potential customers, their fees add up.

Plus, to this day, I have have to go back in and refund the "extra postage fees" eBay collects when customers order more than one item at a time. While it's not "difficult," it seems another waste of time, for both my customers and myself. Direct ordering allows me to control that, from the get-go.

So, here we are. Something that got started to "maybe" sell a few sets of decals along the way has become a second job, with decal and application products being sold and shipped to almost every country on the planet. We have customers ordering from Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Canada and of course, all over the United States of America! Obviously, our beloved Space Shuttle Program had a profound effect on a lot of folks - many of them avid space modelers.

Eleven years... Just doesn't seem possible...
Entry 40 - July 9, 2022

Seriously? Can it really have been over a year since I last posted here? Jesus...
Because of this total lack of input over time, I felt I had to put something in this column today, because it has just been far too long.

So much has happened since the last entry in April , 2021.
We've traveled to Tacoma, Washington, Corona, California and Scottsdale, Arizona to see family and extended family.
We've finally seen the Boeing Starliner make a successful unmanned test flight to the ISS and back.
We've acquired a new Creality HALOT One SLA 3D printer, so we can do more in terms of finely detailed figurative printing than we could before. 
We've dramatically expanded our collection of 2001 and 2010-based ship models, now including an Orion I Booster for the Space Clipper, the big 1/48 scale Aries Moon Shuttle and a 3D-printed model of HAL 9000's "memory chamber," complete with LED lighting and sound. 
That's quite a bit right there.

There have been other events, both local and national, which have held our interest and attention over the past months. Some rich and heart-warming, some too painful to discuss. 
But, through it all, we maintain our allegiance to the craft of space modeling and our love of living in a free nation, governed not by the whim of one autocrat, but by the "Rule of Law," as directed by the People. This is the America I know and love. 
In parting, I'd also like to point out that the official Flag of the United States of America has no one's name on it. It is purely a symbol, of the unity of the 50 states, and our shared history in gaining liberation from tyranny. When you pledge allegiance to the flag, you are pledging to uphold the "sanctity" of the symbol "and to the Nation, for which it stands."
Speech over.
Entry 39 - April 28, 2021
I had to put something in this column today, because it has no been a normal day.
We've lost yet another of our Apollo Heroes.
Michael Collins, Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 11 mission, has died at age 90.
Mike lived a grand, long life. As news of his passing arrived very suddenly today, I found that we died from cancer. He never let it become apparent.
Collins was by far the most outgoing of the three Apollo 11 astronauts. His 1974 book, "Carrying the Fire," was re-released for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission and is widely heralded for it literary excellence. Many critics referred to Collins as the "Poet Laureate" of the Space Program.
While approachable and conversational, he was not outgoing. While he did not shy away from interviews, he did not seek them out, either. His charm, whit and playful attitude on camera made it always worth watching when he was on a show. You always knew, you were seeing "Mike" as he was. No pretense. 
He will be missed.
Godspeed, Michael Collins.
Entry 38 - March 8, 2021

A quick message from those of us who are “crazy enough” to wish to make and sell specialized modeling decals, to lots of other people, for use on many different models made in the “same scale.”

There is no such thing as “perfection.” No perfect fits. No perfect methods. No perfect manuals.
If one did go to the additional time and effort to make sure that, let’s say the Black Tile Decals, fit the underside of the Revell Orbiter model “perfectly,” then it is a very good bet that a good deal of “fudging” would be required to get them to fit onto an Airfix Orbiter, or a Dragon Orbiter or a Minicraft Orbiter (that one, for sure…).

Every model manufacturer employs a set of reference drawings when they create their molds. The later into the program those drawings were done, the closer to “reality” they will be. But it is still up to the model company to faithfully render that data into their molds. Most manufacturers make minor “adjustments” to certain locations or parts of a model in order to promote “mold release” or other elements which relate to manufacturing repeatability. That’s why three 1/144 scale models of the Shuttle Orbiter have minor variances from one to the next.

Then, the origin of the Tile Maps used to create the decal artwork comes into play. At different points in the Shuttle Program, different contractors fielded their own Thermal Protection System “maps,” each one slightly different in overall “accuracy” with respect to wing edging, locations of transitions from one TPS level to the next, and other factors. In the creation of our decals, we have used maps made by Rockwell, United Space Alliance, Boeing and even NASA itself, and in every case, there have been locations of “disagreement” in specific reference points of the TPS system.

We’ve even looked into using high-res photographs of the underside of the Orbiter, taken in the Vehicle Assembly Building during hoisting operations, or during the Rotational Pitch Maneuver aboard the ISS, and getting any of those to “match up” with the shape of the Orbiter has been very, very difficult. Slight variances in angle of the picture which cause perspective issues have made it virtually impossible to make really good “worn” TPS decals, especially when you consider the lack of coordinating images of the lower Forward Fuselage areas to match the underside. Now, it’s even worse.

Knowing that these irregularities exist, and also that people make mistakes during decal installation, we have attempted to provide “spare decal sections” that can be utilized wherever needed to fill in gaps or voids, or account for errors.

We recently got feedback on our 1/144 scale Standard Black products that caused us to re-double our efforts to provide sufficient spares to close up the underside/wing gusset/forward fuselage gaps more specifically. In my own builds, I had “cannibalized” some of the “Test Paper” decals we included to get this work done, but having dedicated parts is always best.

We also recently added newly-found Aft Bulkhead Black Tiles to all of our sets, which should do a better job of covering that are, as well as the rear surfaces of the OMS Pods.
What’s the “bottom line?” A lot…

  • Large-area, specialized decals are a challenge to make and to install. That’s why we do not recommend that beginners try to use our products. Anyone who can find the “personal fortitude” to scratch-build sections of a model of modeling project should be able to piece together sections of our decals to get good-looking results. That’s what I did, and that’s what other customers have done over these past years.
  • * Remember the “old carpenter’s song” of “Measure twice and cut once.” Make photocopies of your decals before you attempt to apply them, to practice the fits at various locations. If you need to cut a decal down into smaller, more manageable sections, you can do that, but then you inherit the “liability” of getting those sections to work with each other again. Use surface wetting. Be gentle. Move the decal smoothly so it doesn’t break.
  • Curved surfaces may require that you cut “radial slits” into the decal film, so that the decal can lay down better onto the curved surface. The fronts of the OMS pods are good examples.

I, we, Lake County SpacePort, never promised “perfection.” We do promise to offer the best looking, most accurate representation of the Shuttle’s various TPS sections we can, so that people can be happier with the way their models look when completed.

We promise to do our best in making and shipping these products, and when problems have arisen, we’ve always worked with our customer to remedy the problem.
We’ve lived up to these promises, which is why we now have customers, literally around the planet.
It never occurred to me this little business would go this far.

"Thank You" to everyone who has placed their faith in our products.
We hope they worked as well for you as they have for us, when we first made them.
Ad Astra per Forma

Back to the workbench...

Entry 37 - July 9, 2020

I just looked at The Workbench and realized that I had not made an entry since last year

"Last year?" What happened?

Well, quite a lot, and then again, not enough, evidently, to trigger the need of recording it.

In January, we did a quick nine-day vacation trip, starting in Webster, Texas, the suburb of Houston that borders the Johnson Space Center, to return to Space Center Houston and complete some "unfinished business." Seeing the historic Apollo Mission Control Room, completely restored to the look of the Apollo 11 mission was the first item on the agenda and it did not fail to be incredible. Alone, it was worth the entire trip. But we also saw everything inside SCH that we did not see during our first trip in Decem or 2018. We also discovered Torchy's Tacos, a regional restaurant chain that does amazing stuff.

Form Houston, we drove through Lockhart, Texas to get world famous Black's BBQ on our way to Austin. We spent two full days in Austin, revisiting favorite restaurants and the LBJ Presidential Library.

From Austin, we flew to Orlando and drove to Cocoa Beach, where we spent the last two full days going back through KSC. Truly, the best of times.

In March, we decided to press-on with our plans to go to Melbourne, Australia, to see friends who winter there most every year and see the Australian Grand Prix. While we saw plenty of our friends and did a lot of Melbourne (a great city), we did not see the Aussie GP. OVID-19 had come to town. We worried about getting back home and the long plane ride, but it all worked out OK.

We've been "sheltering in place" with a few chioce exceptions since wew returned on March 18.

The SpacePort has been pretty active. I guess a lot of modelers who are also "camping in" are reacquainting themselves with their hobbies, as orders have been pretty consistent throughout the past weeks.

We finally got our new Creality Ender 3 Pro 3-D printer and have been very pleased with it. The Workbench is in the process of making an enclosure for the Ender, to keep down outside dust and control heating to get more consistent prints.

So, there we are. up to speed, sort of. It has been, as Dickens once said, "The best of times and the worst of times." There are two major national crises I'd like see change. Hopefully, we will remedy one of them come November.

For God's Sake, VOTE!!!

Now, back to work...

Entry 36 - October 22, 2019

Amazing...The whole Summer has vanished.

I cannot, however, say that we did not try to enjoy ourselves, or not take advantage of the more moderate temperatures.

In early August, we had a long weekend trip up to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin to Road America, one of our favorite racing venues, to see the IMSA Race Showcase weekend and also to visit with old friends who frequent the event.

In late August, early September, we took a week and visited old friends in Castle Rock, Colorado, and during the trip, connected with other retired UL friends who moved to Colorado Springs, as well as Pat's old Grant Township friends who moved out to Morrison, Colorado. After three great days in Colorado, we flew out to Solvang, California, to re-visit a part of California wine country we had not been to in over a decade, enjoy great wine, good food, and fantastic vistas.

In late September, we went to Columbus, Ohio to attend a wedding of the son of our friends from Tennessee. As both the bride & groom work for Honda in Marysville, Ohio, the Columbus venue was a good choice for the event.

We also established a new "home office" for my work with UL, so that I can escape the clamor of the current office environment and skip some commuting from time to time. This is likely to be a real benefit come Winter.

Throughout, we've found time, here and there, to do a few things. We found, re-scaled, printed and constructed a heavy paper model of the Rocketdyne F-1 Engine used on the Apollo -Saturn V. I was contacted by a gentlemen from Burbank, California, who's father once worked at Rocketdyne on the F-1 Assembly Floor, who is now quite ill. His son felt a nice model of the F-1 would help his dad remember and recollect the good times he spent, working on Project Apollo. The model turned out great and the father was very happy to receive it. Some things are just worth doing, because.

We also added a sound module with a wireless remote switch to our 2001 EVA Pod. That worked so well, we decided to re-visit the Pod to add a wireless switch to the headlight LEDs. Both are now part of the Pod and working perfectly.

We're now involved in re-doing the blue engine LEDs in the Moebius 2001 Discovery's tail, This required breaking down the model so much, that we also decided to re-visit the Command Module sphere and install a Green Strawberry EVA Pod Bay into the lower half, below the Flight Deck we put in originally.

So, the Summer of 2019 has been one of travel, reassessment and planing for the next step.

Winter is coming...

Entry 35 - July 17, 2019

It's disgusting...

The level of racist, isolationist rhetoric being fielded these days by member of our so-called "administration" is intolerable. How can a "sitting President" and his staff be allowed to continue spouting such vile and anti-American garbage as has been flouted out this past week?

Of all the weeks in the world, they have tarnished and contaminated the core and nature of the America I grew up in. A country that despised only those who would rail against Freedom, not revel in its limitation to "others." At this moment more than any other, when America looks back 50 years to the achievement of Apollo 11, it would be best served to remember also just how the true freedoms of our nation were blessed by the presence and valued participation of immigrants who came forward in the service of "their country" to counter the perceived Soviet Threat, and place America on the Moon first.

Like the German rocket scientists who chose America to defect to, as Germany was in the throws of defeat at the close of World War II. Their work for the U.S. Army became the foundation of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center and gave us both the Saturn 1B and Saturn V rockets.

There were people from all ethnicity, cultures, faiths, and backgrounds - some 450, 000 American workers in the aerospace and other manufacturing industries, who designed, tested, built and delivered the hardware and materials NASA needed to do the job.

Many years ago, I was fortunate enough to meet Captain Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to the Moon. During his flight, and during his presentation that evening in early December at Triton College in River Forest, Illinois, he said that "Like Issac Newton, we 'stood on the shoulders of giants' to reach the Moon - some 200 million of them."

"Make America Great Again," indeed. The America I know was never anything but great, and she showed just how great she could be back in the late 60's when her citizens accomplished "the impossible."

To me, there is one absolute certainty. The "greatness" this group of politically-gifted snake-oil salesmen are promoting has nothing whatsoever to do with true national power and prestige. When America is at it best, extending a helping hand to not only its own, but others in true need around the world; when she extends the "olive branch" rather than rattle the saber; when she gratefully accepts the inclusion of those who flee here in search of a happier, healthier way of life, those are the best examples of America's "greatness.".

The "Spirit of Apollo" that Richard Nixon spoke of, when he greeted the Apollo 11 crew back to Earth, was about unity between all mankind, not divisiveness; inclusion and not exclusion; about America being a shinning beacon of hope to all of those around the world who want an example of "a more perfect union."

On this 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Mission, let us not tarnish the memories of our true greatness with the residue of antiquated ideologies. The future only belongs to the brave. To those who not only embrace change, but work to ride on and grow alongside of its opportunities.

"It is not surprising that some would have us stay where we are a little longer, to rest, to wait. But this city of Houston, this state of Texas, this country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (a true leader)
Rice University, Houston, TX
September 12, 1962


Entry 34 - June 10, 2019

"SpaceWeek" was always something important to me. It marked the 9-day period of the flight of Apollo 11, July 16 - 24. It was a period that we used to spend giving model rocket launch exhibitions out at the open fields of Illinois Central College in East Peoria, to remind local residents of the significance of the dates, as well as what the nation could do when it was motivated and determined.

Today, in 2019, I find myself 50 years after the event. "50 years..." On first brush, I really thought we'd have gone back to the Moon before now, but obviously, the political will wasn't there and private enterprise was not ready to reach beyond government before now.

The best thing about the SpaceWeek of 2019, is that there seems to be more than one road back to the Moon. Besides the "mandate" of the current "Administration" to return NASA to the Moon by 2024, Blue Origins and other American companies have expressed their desire to reach for the Moon, and not figuratively - literally. In fact, NASA itself has chosen three private U.S. companies to build unmanned Lunar landers as proof of concept hardware, as well as to deploy scientific equipment onto the surface cheaply.

Who knows? In a few years, maybe we will have an American presence on the Moon, similar to that on the ISS, conducting ongoing research and learning more an more on how to operate beyond our home planet.

The old proverb is that "A trip of a thousand miles begins with the first step." Neil & Buzz began the trip, back in 1969. 

Godspeed, the crew of Apollo 11.

Entry 33 - April 5, 2019

The re-work of the 1/32 scale Apollo Service Module is now complete. The results can be seen on the Non-Fiction page associated to the 1/32 Apollo CSM. The new Vincent Meens' developed 3D printed parts look fantastic. Well worth the effort to put them in.

Now, we're in the midst of another major build effort. The new 1/8 scale Moebius 2001 EVA Pod!

We've been waiting for this one for some time, as has a pre-order waiting list, set up in lieu of Moebius' release for the kit. But, it's here now, and along with the VooDooFX lighting kit, the "YA_Monsters!" LED location plate accessories, some additional Shapeways 3D parts from other sources and a pending 1/8 scale David Bowman developed by Max Gruetner and printed through, the model is slowly coming together, with the installation of LEDs and wiring of the cockpit consuming the build thus far.

We've loaded photos of the build process onto Facebook, so you can keep up with our progress there. Eventually, we will add a page here, dedicated to displaying and preserving that unique element of the Kubrick/Clarke film.

More to come, as the work unfolds...

Entry 32 - February 27, 2019

The world of spacemodeling is changing - quickly.

Some of the things I used to have to do by "scratch-building" can now be done in 3D printing. An entirely new venue of specialized detail parts has, and continues to emerge for old mainstay models, like the revered 1/32 scale Monogram Apollo Spacecraft.

As anyone who visits LCSP regularly might know, I've built two of these. The second version was far better and more detailed than the first, not only because of the use of then-available detail parts for the kit made by New Ware in the Czech Republic, which included both photo-etched metal and cast resin parts, but the better knowledge of the vehicle I gained, not only through research afforded by the Internet, but also the many visits to see CS-119 - the last remaining "flight worthy" Command & Service Modules, on display at KSC's Apollo/Saturn V Center. The many photos I took of the vehicle helped immeasurably in improving the quality of the work.

Some of the Web-based research included pictures of the Fuel Cells, located in the SM, used to produce both electrical power for the spacecraft, as well as pure water, which was used not only for the crew to drink but also to cool the electronics of the spacecraft. In comparison to the simple "cylinders" used by Monogram as part of the original kit, my scratch-built fuel cells were far better looking.

Then, Vincent Meens decides to take on the Monogram CSM model for his new display. This "guy" is no second-rate modeler. His work on the Lunar Module is now available for any spacemodeler to take advantage of by being offered as 3D printed parts on, in scales ranging from 1/48 up to 1/16 (!) scale. In truth, most parts are really only available in the 1/32 and 1/24 scale, as those are the "demand" scales for high-definition LM models. I personally used for of Vincent's parts in the building of my 1/32 scale Edu-Craft LM-5 model, as they offered an alternative to my badly hand-fabricated parts.

Now, I'm seeing the work Vincent is doing in the open bays of the Monogram Service Module. His newly available 3D parts for the Oxygen Tanks, Hydrogen Tank and, yes the three Fuel Cells, are nothing short of "brilliant."

So, here we go again, updating an already updated model, using Vincent's parts.

But after this, the 1/32 CSM model is done - period.

Entry 31 - December 18, 2018

Another orbit around the Sun comes neigh.

A lot has been accomplished. A lot has been lost.

One of the greatest "losses" appears to be in our national connection to reality and the sanctity of truth, facts, science and improving our position in the eyes of the world. For three generations, this country endeavored to better itself, beyond the perceived capacities of its global rivals, beyond what its own expectations could have allowed.

One of the greatest outcomes of that effort was the incredible achievement of the Flight of Apollo 8 in December of 1968.

With the potential for the Soviet Union to once again upstage the United States by flying a circumnavigation of the Moon before the end of 1968, NASA management made one of the boldest decisions ever in the young history of our Space Program. With only two test flight under their belts, and the second one going not as well as planned, NASA banked on tits own efforts, as well as those of the 400,000 American workers who poured their hearts and soles into the Apollo Program, and changed an Earth orbital mission to test a Lunar Module that was unready to fly into a journey that would transform the consciousness of humanity.

On December 21, 1968, Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders boarded their Apollo Spacecraft, atop the most powerful rocket ever made, the mighty Saturn V, and set off on a trip around the Moon. It was the stuff of Jules Verne, the dreams of Robert Goddard and those of Werner Von Braun as well. It was stirring. and it was all set around the Christmas holiday.

The greatest gift given to mankind that year was the photograph taken by Bill Anders during the fourth revolution of the Moon. During a roll maneuver in lunar orbit, the crew saw the blue marble of Earth, rising up over the lunar horizon. It was unbelievable.

It still is.

How can you still pretend that the "Earth is flat" after seeing that image with your own eyes? The crew even broadcast live TV during the flight, so there was ample proof of the reality of the images.

This is reality. This is the planet where we all live. The one we desperately need to take better care of, and damned soon.

The majesty of that Christmas broadcast from lunar orbit still lives in me.

And so, from the crew of the Lake County Space Port, we say Good Night, Good Luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of us...All of us on the Good Earth.

Entry 30 - October 29, 2018

It's been a busy end-of Summer, beginning-of-Autumn on the old Workbench...
We got through the construction, finishing and mounting of the 1/2700 scale Revell/Zvezda Imperial Star Destroyer. It was another of those imposing projects that became the prime focus of my spare time for a few weeks.
Trouble is, that when going into or out of the workshop, I seem to find other things I need to do, either by accident or by comparison to the current work in progress.
That's the reason the Millennium Falcon came under scrutiny - again. I had seen new detail sets from Paragrafix that I knew would work on the old MPC model, as well as 3D-printed parts from that would improve detail in a number of areas. the shelf she came to get taken care of in between Destroyer work.
Then, of course, you re-examine the entire "Star Wars" model portfolio and decide that we're deficient in a couple of areas. That was the impetus for ordering the AMT Death Star model from eBay, which in light of Destroyer & Falcon completion, is becoming the prime work focus. After assembling the sections of the upper and lower spheres, the two halves got mated and application of our custom-made surface decals began. We're now a bout half-way through the surface application. More to come, as the project evolves.
The completion of the AMT Death Star will usher in the re-configuration of the two lower levels of our basement display shelf, in order to accommodate the old and new Star Wars products and in hopefully, in a more logical fashion, that will showcase the two "star models," the Imperial Star Destroyer and the revised Millennium Falcon.
Until then, it's back to work...

Entry 29 - July 3, 2018

Since our last view of the LCSP Workbench, we completed work on the Altaria Rocketry N-1 model rocket, which now resides on a shelf in the Lovely Apollo Room. Even with all of the "challenges" provided by this most garage-like of all of the garage kits I've ever built, the N-1 turned out beautifully - much better than I thought it would.

Obviously not getting all of the Apollo-era Soviet angst out of my system, I felt compelled to complete another N-1, this time in 1/96 scale - same as our Revell Saturn V. The new N-1 is a paper model, produced by Currell Graphics in both 1/96 and 1/144 scales and available as a free download, accessible though Vincent Meen's model website. Because the 1/96 scale versions is set-up on sheets 19 by 11-1/2" big, I could not print it out at home, so I contracted with Signal Graphics in nearby Mundalline to do the printing, on heavy card stock. The new 1/96 scale N-1 now rests on a small black shelf, next to the display cabinet with the Saturn V inside, for a visual reference between the two.

Along the path, we also managed to paint a couple of 1/24 scale 2001 spacesuited Lunar Astronauts, for inclusion on the 2001 Odyssey shelf.

Right now, we're in the process of building a 1/32 scale Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), acquired through from parts developed by Vincent Meens. The little Rover is impressively detailed.

We're also working on a new copy of the Revell 1.24 scale Russian Vostok Spacecraft, which will have a far more detailed cockpit and use the Max Grueter "Small Sculptures" 3D printed "Yuri Gagarin Vostok Ejection Seat." I originally was just going to "swap out" the Revell Cosmonaut figure in my original Vostok with the new guy, but found out the ejection seat rails were in the wrong location to make that work. That's when I decided to try and find a new copy of the model, so I could adjust the cockpit, improve the detail and use the 3D printed Vostok figure. The new Vostok is still, very much, a "work in progress."

Beyond the Vostok replacement, there's a 1/150 scale Soyuz Launch Vehicles and Transporter model I just received from Japan on a "pre-order" ahead of the model's release. However, it will wait for completion of the Vostok.

This summer brings the 49th (!) anniversary of the First Lunar Landing mission of Apollo 11. It's hard to believe that so much time has gone by and we have not returned to the Moon since the Apollo 17 mission in December of 1972. It's time to go back!!

Entry 28 - March 7, 2018

A lot has happened over the past month.

We've taken a trip to California to see family and our old friend "Endeavour."

We've completed work on the new 1/144 scale Moebius Models "Discovery XD-1" model, which now replaces our Stargazer Models Discovery, built back in 2012. The Stargazer is now resting in a new home in Weldon, California, purchased by another 2001 fan from the eBay offering. This was the first time I had offered any of my modeling work for sale.

The original Aurora Plastics 2001 Moon Bus also left to a new owner in Baytown, Texas, as the Moebius Models Moon Bus has taken its place on the shelf.

We've done some modest restocking of LCSP Shuttle Decal Products, as demand has been steady, but conservative, in comparison to last year.

We have also begun work on a newly released Fantastic Plastic resin kit of the Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) from the Ridley Scott movie, "The Martian." The Descent Stage is almost complete, and the rest is coming along.

We have business travel in mid-March, so modeling will stop for a while. That's not a bad thing, as my relentless need to complete a project sometimes gets the better of me. having a chance to "think" about the coming build completion my bring new ideas to light, or at least a good plan on the coarse forward.

So, the first quarter of 2018 has been a good one, thus far. We will see how the rest of the year plays out.

Entry 27 - February 7, 2018

It’s been about a year after we were at the Kennedy Space Center in 2017, hoping to see a Falcon 9 roll onto Pad 39A to become the first commercially-owned vehicle to launch from that storied site.

And now, yesterday, we saw something totally new rise from Pad 39A - the maiden launch of the Falcon Heavy, the most powerful version of the Falcon Series of boosters and currently the most powerful launch vehicle in the World.

What a difference the year made for SpaceX!

13 launches from Pad 39A since February 16, 2017.

This launch was the very reason SpaceX wanted to lease 39A from NASA - to use a launch facility capable to dealing with the launch forces created by the Heavy.

Not only was the flight near perfect, the near-simultaneous landing of the two outer Falcon Booster Cores should qualify SpaceX for a "gold medal" for synchronized rocketry in the Olympics. 

Here's to the entire SpaceX team, who work so very hard to get the "near impossible" accomplished!!

Meanwhile, back at LakeCountySpacePort, there's new work on our Workbench.

A new 1/144 scale Moebius Models "XD-1 Discovery" is coming together. We are using the ParaGrafix Flight Deck PE add-on kit, and adding our own LED lighting effects to both the flight deck and the nuclear engines. With the Stargazer model being solid resin parts, doing lighting of the engines was not an option.

We also invested in a new bench-top Airbrush Spray Booth, so we could do the airbrush work on models like Discovery without fear of overspray flying everywhere. It even folds down into its own portable container. Very sweet.

Beyond Discovery, Fantastic Plastic has just released a model of the MAV (Mars Ascent Module) as seen in the Ridley Scott movie, "The Martian." The kit looks excellent, as most FP products tend to be, so that will be the next build.

Pictures and a build article page on the Moebius Discovery to come.

Until then, it's back to work...

Entry 26 - October 31, 2017

It's Halloween in Fox Lake, Illinois and true to form, the weather will be cold and windy as the kids trundle around the neighborhood tonight on the Trick or Treat run. At least I got the lights out over a week ago...

Meanwhile, we have seen some impressive project come to fruition this Fall at the ol'Spaceport.

The LVM Pad 14 Launch Umbilical Tower for the the Revell "All Systems Go" Friendship 7 - Atlas model was completed. There's a feature page on the website devoted to the project.

We also recently completed a 1/48 scale Soviet "LK" lunar lander kit from Fantastic Plastic. It is now also featured on the website.

We added an 8 by 10 copy of the Robert McCall Gemini mural to the background of the Next Big Steps shelf in the Apollo Room. A very appropriate addition.

The Moebius 2001 Moon Bus model was completed, along with the LED-illuminated "landing pad" display base, which made the revision of the LED lighting for the Ares 1B Moon Clipper's landing pad happen as well.

So, now, we've done everything that was on the near-term agenda.

What to do... next?

We'll head down to the Workbench and ponder for a while.

Entry 25 - August 30, 2107

Well, Labor Day is just around the corner, and that means another Summer has come and gone. Damn, these years keep going by faster and faster...

On the home front, we had a successful conclusion to our eBay fund-raising project.

Our 1/72 Special Space Shuttle Orbiter modeling package, which included a vintage 1979 Monogram Orbiter kit and a butt-load of Real Space, Fisher Pattern, and LakeCountySpacePort detailing products, was purchased by Mr. John Chambers in Dayton, Ohio for $190. The total worth of the model and all of the goodies that went with it was over $280, so John got a very good deal!

On top of all that, donated the $190 selling proceeds to the American Space Museum and U.S. Space Walk of Fame in Titusville, Florida, to help them with the amazing work they do to collect, maintain and display rare launch equipment and crew artifacts from the U.S. space program, as well as public education and outreach events in the Central Florida area.

Thanks to John for his support of our efforts, as well as those of the American Space Museum!

On the local modeling front, we moved our 1/110 scale re-worked Freedom 7 launch pad model into its location in the Apollo Room.

We also completed a restoration project on the old Estes 1/42 scale Mercury-Redstone model, using body skins from Accur8 Spacemodels in Texas to completely renovate the booster.

We will soon be doing a similar renovation to our Estes Gemini-Titan II, to bring it into a new level of accuracy and detail.

We've ordered a Launch Umbilical Tower for our 1/110 Revell Friendship 7 launch pad model from LVM Studios in the Netherlands. It has not yet arrived in our shop, but should soon.

We are also building a new RSR 1/70 scale Little Joe II from Apogee Components, to add to the Apollo Room collection. It's the best small model of the Little Joe I've seen and will be a great addition to our "Rocket Garden."

Wow! For a "quiet month," we sure had a lot going on.

Here's to an excellent Autumn!

Entry 24 - August 14, 2017

It has been some time since we've made an entry in this section, so to say the Summer has not been full would not be true, but, in some ways, it has been fairly "relaxed."

In June, we spent some time visiting Phoenix, Arizona, to see my wife's relatives and re-new some connections to Frank Lloyd Wright buildings I used to visit more often, when my job took me there a couple of times per year.

In July, we had our annual vintage car event at Road America, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

But along the way, we did find time to do some modeling-related activities as well.

We formally added 1/100 scale products to our Shuttle decal and detail set offerings. These are available on the Web Store as well as on our eBay listings.

We completed a conversion of a Revell 1/110 scale Jupiter C model to become Launch Complex 5, with the Mercury Redstone "Freedom 7" awaiting launch. This was a project I had been thinking about for some time, but executed on just this past few weeks. The model has been showcased on our Facebook page, as well as here.

We also placed our big Special Shuttle Model Package onto eBay last week, which is a vintage 1979 Monogram Orbiter model, along with "all the trimmin's." A portion of the sale will go to the American Space Museum & Walk of Fame in Titusville. You can find the listing in our eBay offerings.

We've also found a decent photo of the Florida coastline, behind LC-39A to create a photo backdrop for our good old 1/144 scale LC-39A model. That is getting "posterized" to a large format print for mounting at the far end of the model's enclosure.

We also found a new source of detailing products, designed specifically for Estes flying scale models of the Mercury-Redstone and Gemini-Titan II, which should dramatically improve the surface detail. More on this as they arrive.

Entry 23 - May 2, 2017

It has been a while since our last entry.

We've been down to Tennessee, to visit friends, and back.

We've had a few home-based projects, and we did a bit of "heat stressing" to our dear old Discovery model, to get it that "just landed" look, but overall, it's been a quiet spring, from the modeling perspective.

The only project of any size was the 1/86 scale SpaceX Falcon 9 V 2.0 flying model, that we added re-scaled AXM Paper Space Model landing legs to, in order to boost the realism of the first stage.

For the real SpaceX, it's been a busy year thus far.

As the previous entry shows, SpaceX began launch activities fro Complex 39A at KSC, while SLC 40 is still being repaired. Besides the CRS-7 flight in February, there was the Echostar 23 flight in March. the SES-10 flight in April (first re-flight of a Falcon 9 first stage), and recently the NROL-76 flight on Monday (May 1). All launches saw first stage landings and recoveries, except for Echostar 23, which needed all the Specific Impulse to get the "bird" up to geostationary transfer orbit, so it flew in "expendable mode."

Seeing the great success that SpaceX has been having since the September 1, 2016 loss, gives me a great sense of pride and confidence in their goals for the future. Here's hoping for a flight of Crewed Dragon in the near future!

Go Falcon! Go Dragon! Go SpaceX!!

Entry 22 - February 20, 2017

It was quite a weekend.

With the very mild temperatures, the yard finally got cleared of all of the debris from our recent bouts of wind.

Errant solar lights along the driveway got repaired or replaced.
The boxes of holiday lights were put back into storage.

We began work on a new Frank Lloyd Wright lighting product project in the workshop.

And, on Sunday, after a scrubbed first attempt on Saturday, SpaceX launched the CRS-10 ISS resupply mission from Launch Pad 39A at KSC, and landed the first stage at LZ-1 on Cape Canaveral.

Just two weeks ago, we were there, hoping this event would occur during our stay. While we did get to see the preparations at LC-39A, the schedule was too optimistic.

But, this weekend, they did it, and it was still wonderful to watch. KSC is actually becoming a multi-user, multi-vehicle "spaceport."

Congratulations to SpaceX on a job well done

Entry 21 - January 11, 2017

The first Workbench entry of the new year finds a lot of activity on the shop, but no major "projects" on the docket.
While there was sooooooo much about 2016 that we did not find "enjoyable," there were some significant strides made at the Lake County SpacePort last year.
>>We finally made all of the Shuttle Tile & Blanket Decal Products "modular," so there is less duplication of elements between the sets and a better "fit" for the modeler's project.
>>We instituted the use of zip-lock plastic bags to protect all LCSP products during shipment.
>>We completed the entire EFT-2 suite of AXM Paper Space Models, along with the LED illumination of the Delta IV Heavy launch vehicle.
>>We added a number of new Star Trek items to our display area, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the series.
>>Our trip to Seattle for visit family included the interior your of the Shuttle Full Fuselage Trainer at the Museum of Flight. While it may not be an "operational" Shuttle Orbiter, the FFT was part of the training for every crew that flew on STS.
So, 2016 was not a total loss...
Since the turn of 2017, we have spent some time replenishing our inventory in the SpacePort Store on items which appear to be selling well during the close of '16 and the beginning of '17, such as the 1/144 scale Standard Black Tile Decals, as well as the 1/144 and 1/72 Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decals. With the creation of inventory, we will have put the store in a good position to serve its customers well into the year.
Late January is always a time of remembrance at the SpacePort. Three very important and sad anniversaries happen between January 26 and February 1st, as our Wall of Heroes commemorates. For the first time in the many, many trips I have made to KSC. we will be there during this Week of Remembrance. I am looking forward to seeing Atlantis in her new home for this first time, but also knowing the emotion will hang pretty heavy as we go through the "Forever Remembered" section of the Atlantis building, where the crews of STS 51-L and STS-107 are commemorated.
Dickens is reaclled again. It will be the "best of times and the worst of times."

Entry 20 - December 8, 2016

Unfortunately, 2016 has claimed more than just my good nature. It has claimed one of my longest-standing heroes.

On December 8, John H. Glenn, Jr. passed away.

John has "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God."

He was the last of the Seven Mercury Astronauts.
A war hero in Korea.
A great test pilot.
The first American to orbit the Earth.
A Senator from his home state of Ohio.
He returned to orbit on October 29, 1998, as a member of the STS-95 crew.
He was one of my heroes.

"Godspeed, John Glenn!"

Now, all of the original Mercury Seven Astronauts have been consigned to the ages.

Their legacy of skill, daring, devotion and courage should be held scared and emulated by this generation, if it wishes to provide the kind of legacy to the future that these men gave us.

Ad Astra per explorationem!

Entry 19 - November 30, 2016

We had a recent message from another eBay user who asked whether or not our Shuttle Payload Bay Detail Applications Set was actually "borrowed" from the 1/144 scale paper model artwork of AXM Paper Space Models.

Besides the simple act of plagiarism, he questioned whether or not our work was truly our own, or based off someone else.

As I pointed out in the descriptions for both the 1/72 and 1/144 scale Payload Bay sets, the images came from NASA photos of the Orbiters during payload change-out activities in the Orbiter Processing Facilities (OPFs). It took quite a bit of searching to find the images which showed sufficient area of each subject location to be usable for the work, and we did actually need to do a bit of digital image manipulation, including geometric and perspective corrections.

The original work was done for the 1/72 scale Monogram Orbiters we show in our website build articles, most of which have been moved over to Shutterfly, in order to save space on the Web site.

Once we found we had a workable, repeatable process, we decided to add this product to our inventory of Shuttle Modeling Products for sale on LCSP and eBay.

The images were then shrunk 1/2 size to work on 1/144 scale modules, including the Revell orbiter I was working on. We then made sure we knew which 1/144 scale Orbiters the application would and would not work on, so we could offer them in confidence.

All of our products have come to offering in this fashion. We have offered nothing to others that we have not first used ourselves with a successful outcome. Every single product on our offering locations is the product of effort expended to improve the realism of our own work, and once proven, they became available to others for their consideration and use.

We stand behind the products we sell, and have even created special scale sizes to customers who have requested them.

The 1/100 scale versions used on the Tamiya Orbiter are "available," but until the market is better defined, we do not make then for "stock inventory" ahead of sale. Each set will be made to order. If we see a few more orders, we will probably add them to the inventory as well.

So, with the exception of the Shuttle Tile Decals, whose origin was with the late Ed Bisconti, that's how all of our other Shuttle & ISS detail products have come to be.

Entry #18 – October 19, 2016

October already...

It's been a very interesting month so far.

We had a trip to Seattle to visit my oldest daughter and twin granddaughters, and while we were there, we did some amazing things.

The crown jewel for me was getting to tour the crew compartment of the Full Fuselage Trainer at Boeing's Museum of Flight. The FFT was given by NASA to MoF after the Shuttle Program was canceled in 2011. The FFT was used by every crew who ever flew aboard the Shuttle to familiarize themselves with system, equipment and logistics of the Orbiter's Mid-deck, Flight Deck and Payload Bay. As such, it is an historic artifact of the Shuttle Program and was certainly coveted by many museums and institutions around the country, but MoF got the "nod."

I have recently (2012& 2013) been fairly "up close & personal" with Orbiters Discovery and Endeavour, having visited their "new homes" at Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum (Discovery) and California Science Center (Endeavour). I've studied the Shuttle since 1974, flown computer simulations in its cockpit, but have never actual "been" on-board of a Shuttle Orbiter. Now, after touring the FFT, I have!!

While the FFT is not an "active" shuttle Orbiter, it is a full-size, completely accurate reproduction of the interior of the Orbiter, used by all STS crews during training, so indeed, I can say that I have walked on "hallowed ground."

I have recently posted the full FFT tour on our YouTube page. If you want to check it out, use this link:

During our trip, my daughter asked if we wanted to go see the Star Trek 50th anniversary exhibit at the EMP / SciFi Museum. How fast could we get there?? Another fantastic venue and a great exhibit put on by Paul Allen's team. If there's a bigger sci-fi fan than Paul Allen, I don;t know of them. Paul REALLY put his money where is mind was, by building not only a phenomenal museum from the content perspective, by having Frank Gehery wrap one of his incredible buildings around them. quite the package!

In the last few days, Orbital/ATK has gotten Antares off the ground again, and put their Cygnus spacecraft en route to deliver goods to the ISS. Today, a Russian R7 Soyuz rocket put Expedition 49-50 into orbit to live aboard ISS.

Yes, October has been quite a good month.

Entry #17 – September 16, 2016

Well, apparently, there are some spacemodelers still working during the Summer months.

I recently received am inquiry from a modeler in Canada, who saw our post here on the SpacePort for the 1/100 scale Tamiya Orbiter model build, which depicted Columbia as she appeared when the STS-9 - Spacelab 1 mission was flown back in 1983.

For that particular build, we re-scaled our Orbiter Tile Decals to fit the 1/100 Tamiya model with excellent results.

So, this adventurous modeler asked me, "Are we going to offer these decals in 1/100 scale for other folks building the Tamiya Orbiter model?"

Up to this moment, I had not really given that subject any thought. Most all of our order traffic has been to the two popular scales seen in US and European Shuttle models - 1/144 and 1/72, predominated by Revell, Airfix, Minicraft and Monogram (now part of Revell).

My modeler friend told me that while the Tamiya model is not heavily sold in the US, it is widely available in Japan. He says that...

"As a Japanese (person) living in Canada and having chances to go (to) Japan a lot, (the) Tamiya 1/100 space shuttle is easier (to get) and (a) better option for me. Of course, your building page inspired me, and (the) Tamiya 1/100 costs me only $30 to 40 CAD in Japan comparing to (the) Revell 1/72 (which) is about $80 CAD in Canada. If you have a chance, please think about Japanese modelers or modelers in Asia. We have many enthusiastic people there."

Based on this, we took a look at the situation and re-scaled our Shuttle Main Decal Set, Early Era White Tile Set and the Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decal Set products down to 1/100 scale, so that this courageous modeler could obtain them, if he so chooses.

One big deal is the cost of printing and clear-coating. It takes just as many sheets of decal paper stock to do the "Late Era White Tile & AFRSI Decal Set" in 1/100 scale, for instance, as it does to produce the 1/72 scale set, as each artwork panel for the 1/00 scale offering is 72% the size of the 1/72 scale versions. So there is simply not enough room on an 8-1/2" by 11" sheet top do more than one artwork panel, with about a quarter sheet un-printed.

This is very different from when we do the 1/144 scale sets, as most of the panels can fit four to a page, so there is a great efficiency of materials in doing those. One sheet of decal paper stock yields four sets of each finished decal page.

If we priced by the sheet, as I have traditionally done, the 1/100 scale sets will cost the same as the 1/72 scale sets, which seems "wrong" as the printed areas are smaller. So, we've adjusted the costs slightly to accommodate the smaller printed area without a big loss of revenue on the cost of materials. We're just trying to be fair...

So, we will "test the waters" with our friend from Canada. If he decides to buy the 1/100 scale sets. we may decide to offer them as regular stock items on the SpacePort store. As eBay charges for each listing on their site, we may not place the 1/100 scale offering on eBay, but direct interested parties to this website to order them.

Anyway, that's the news for now. Happy Modeling!

Entry #16 – August 21, 2016

We approach the end of Summer and it seems like we were just settling in.

While it feels like it's been a busy season, there's a lot of things that feel either "undone" or neglected, but in retrospect, I can't seem to decide what those are.

We have had some fun this Summer. We attended a Chicago White Sox game with Fox Lake friends around Pat's birthday, we did our annual journey to Road America to work on the Concours Judging crew for the International Challenge vintage sports car weekend, traveled back Peoria a number of times for family events and brewing our first beer at the new Rhodell Brewing location. Since it's a Scottish Red Rye Ale, we're going to call it "Curiosity" and label it accordingly. The bottling will come on September 17th.

They say that Labor Day is the "official" end of Summer, as it's the last big holiday before most kids go back to school. For me, it's adding an extra year on the line, as we put a "1" along with the 60 we picked up last year.

We're also starting to plan well into 2017 already, as there will be a trip to Seattle before Autumn gets too old, holiday visit to Illinois by our West Cost families and a January-February trip to Florida.

I am looking forward to both trips, as the Seattle trip will take us to see my daughter and grand-twin girls for the first time in a long while, and as a family, we're going to see the newly added Space Shuttle full-size Trainer exhibit at Boeing's Museum of Flight. we been to MoF quite a few times over the years, but this will be different.

The trip to Florida will allow us to see the Atlantis display facility for the first time, as well as be at KSC for the fifteenth anniversary of the Columbia Accident - Feb.1, 2001. It will truly be "the best of times and the worst of times" to be at KSC, but we're going all the same.

The completion of the semi-scratch-built Valley Forge allowed my to complete the last modeling project this season - a 1/72 scale Dragon Apollo-Soyuz model. While the results are typical Dragon - excellent in detail, I am very unimpressed wit the quality of the instructions, which provided virtually no guidance on how to build the Soyuz, or interface it to the Apollo model. Very untypical for Dragon to mess-up at this level.

But, we completed it all the same, and it now resides in the Lovely Apollo Room, symbolizing the end of the era.

So, here we are... 2017 sees no new all-encompassing modeling projects.

Maybe the trip to see Atlantis will;; provide enough photographic data to improve our 1/72 scale AFRSI decal offerings, and really make them a better "alternative" to the proven J&J cloth tape process, which I used on the last three 1/72 scale Orbiters and now other modelers around the globe have employed with similar success.

As for now, we found time to bring the product inventory levels of the SpacePort back up, as well as finished "recovering" a home computer we though was dead. Turned out to be a bum monitor instead of a motherboard issue. The "Zombie" computer is now resting on a new rolling stand-up computer cart - the last project to come out of the workshop.

We will take a break for a while. Ship some decal and detail sets to our customers, bottle our Red Ale and look towards the New Year. Who knows what new projects might lay in store.

Entry #15 – May 19, 2016

We've not made any updates here on "The Workbench" since back in January. That's not to say, however, that the workbench has been idle.

We finished our 1/144 scale Revell Shuttle "stack" using our newly crafted Advanced Flexible Reusable Surface Insulation (AFRSI) decals, as much as an alternative to trying to do the "tape based" AFRSI on the smaller model as anything. I thought it turned out pretty well, so I "test marketed" the AFRSI decals on eBay and here on the LCSP Webstore.

To date, we;ve had our "test case" user and one Web buyer. Both are also happy with the results and one even recommended that I "up scale" the AFRSI decals to 1/72 scale for the bigger Monogram & Revell models. We'll look into that...

We also received and completed a new 1/144 scale resin kit from Hong Kong provider, Anagrand Craftworks. The Russian "Energia" booster rocket and the "Buran" shuttle orbiter were kind of a challenge, but well-made enough, and we now have a very nice looking model of the Russian counterpart to our own Space Shuttle. The big difference - The Russian shuttle flew just once. Our Shuttle flew 135 mission before retirement.

Over the past few weeks, I have found a re-fascination with an old sci-fi movie, "Silent Running," done in 1972 by visual effects master-turned Director, Douglas Trumball, who worked for Stanley Kubrick on the classic "2001 - A Space Odyssey." The focal point of the story is a 2500-foot long American Airlines space freighter, the Valley Forge, which like her two sister ships, the Sequoia and the Berkshire, carrying "domes" which enclose and support the last vestiges of Earth's forests. A great film, then and now.

It appeared to me that of all my favorite sci-fi films, I did not have a model of the Valley Forge. So, I went looking. The only remotely available model I could find is one from "Hunk of Junk Productions." A 49-inch long (1/500 scale) mixed-media model, selling for $(damn). While I'm " on their list," they need at least 20 potential buyers to make building kits plausible. Could be a while. If you're interested, check out the link...

In lieu of that version, I was able to find a paper model created by "uhu02" of Japan. As the PDF pages containing the actual model were buried back in a long-unused web page, it took some effort to find them. In the interim, I took a plan drawing of the Valley Forge found on the Website dedicated to the vehicle and proceeded to try and create the triple-pole spars from plastic tubing, to a length that seemed more "affordable" - 23-3/4" long, or 1/1200 scale - about half the size of the HoJ model.

I then got the paper model pages "re-scaled" to match this scale and have been working on "blending" the two ideas together to make an affordable, but good looking Valley Forge.

This one's going to take a while...So, it's back to work.

Entry #14 – January 28, 2016

January 28th. The date alone causes me to think about the weird twists of fate life brings.  
Yesterday, January 27, was the 30th anniversary of the Challenger Accident (1986).Today is the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire (1967).
Monday will be the 13th anniversary of the Columbia Accident (2003).
Time moves on… I remember worrying after each of those incidents, as to whether America had the resolve to continue the quest for space. Each time, after laboring through the painful memories and reams of data to find the “root cause” and correct it, we emerged to fly again – safely and successfully.  
Now, the entire Shuttle Program has been silenced. The entire program has been relegated to history. Apollo is history. And, until American free enterprise begins picking up the slack, American astronauts bound for the International Space Station will be catching their “ride to work” on a Russian bus. 
I find a strange kind of irony in this whole scenario. Back in 1984, when NASA was busy protecting the Shuttle Program from various commercial entities, foreign and domestic who wanted to get into the space launch business, we of the old L5 Society fought for the opening of the space frontier – to have government allow private enterprise the right to conduct space transportation and space commerce.
Today, the Shuttle has been “stood down” and the entire mantle of American large cargo crew access to orbital space has been thrust into the hands of private enterprise and it cannot happen soon enough.
IF the Shuttle had been able to keep its promises, would we be talking about the emergence of privately-owned space transportation? Probably not, because we would already be enjoying the benefits of low-cost, reliable access to near earth orbit. While such private efforts may have found “fertile soil” anyway, they certainly would not have had the assistance, let alone the “blessing" of the NASA we see today. Without the Shuttle Program to “protect,” NASA was forced to foster the growth of commercial space transportation, for satellites, cargo and for crew as well.These things do take time to accomplish.
However, if companies had been working at this since 1984, while the Shuttle was still operational, we would have had the redundancy needed to carry on our space activities in the absence of the Shuttle, and we may well have been on or way to a better, truly reusable spaceflight system. Of course, it’s also arguable that if the momentum of the Apollo Era had not faded into politically-jaded dissolution, we may also have been working and living on the Moon by now, as well as setting expeditions to Mars.
So many years wasted...
On the other hand, watching the people of SpaceX cheer so happily when their Falcon 9 first stage came back to rest on all four landing legs at Cape Canaveral after inserting Orbicom into a successful trajectory made me realize that “the Dream is still alive.” These people are living that dream, by the work of their own hands and the grand vision of their employer. Soon, others will celebrate their own successes, and American free enterprise will truly be on its way “to the stars.”
A moment of further reflection…
Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it--we mean to lead it.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Rice University Address – September 12, 1962

Godspeed, America.Ad Astra. 
Entry #13 – Decemberber 24, 2015
9:00 AM, December 24, 2015
It's with a strange sense of both optimism and "old oaken buck" sentimentality that I see this year come to a close.
We've actually made some miraculous strides towards commercial space access, with the return to flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9, along with her first-ever successful booster landing, and they have also completed a successful Pad Abort Test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Blue Origin completed a 307,000 foot high test flight of their New Shepard vehicle, also concluding with a successful booster landing. And, there was the topping-off of the crew access tower for the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft at Complex 37 at the Cape.
And yet, Virgin Galactic has not yet recovered from the loss of Spaceship 2, to resume their proof-of-performance flights. The Orbital-ATK Antares booster is still months away fro return to flight, and the Boeing CST-100, for all the pad-prep and fanfare of the re-purposed OPF3 into the assembly and preparation site for the "Starliner," Boeing has not yet made a single test flight of the new craft.
However, in retrospect, it's only been four years since the Space Shuttle stopped flying, and already, there is graphic evidence of the coming Commercial Space Age evolving at KSC, SpacePort New Mexico, Wallops Island's MARS site and elsewhere.
Even the "hallowed ground" of Launch Complex 39A at KSC sports a new Horizontal Integration Building, as SpaceX readies the facility for their upcoming operations of both Falcon 9 (presumably with Crew Dragon atop) as well as Falcon Heavy. A similar transformation is occurring at Vandenberg, where the old Shuttle launch complex, SLC-6, is being converted to accommodate Falcon Heavy.
So, watch the skies... 2016 could be a "watershed" year in the history of spaceflight. We can but hope...
Ad Astra.

Entry #12 – November 23, 2015

Once back in Northern Illinois, we got back to work on the 1/144 scale Revell Germany ISS model, "Limited Edition" version. It's the biggest, best-valued model of the ISS that's out there, but it still has "issues" in terms of accuracy, with respect to the current configuration of the Station.

After doing a bit of research, I find that famed European spacemodeler, Vincent Meens, did work great work on his copy of the Revell ISS model, so we used his photos as the primary pattern for driving the build.

However, we did take the liberty of making a few alterations of our own.
Instead of painting the US modules, we decided to do adhesive-backed metallic foil coatings on their exterior. Once protectively "dull-coated," the look will be more authentic to the actual surface.
We also decided to take yet another queue from our friend David Maier of Edu-Craft Diversions and put some "photo-realism" into the model's solar arrays. That was the beginning of what turned into an entire suite of NASA photo-based component applications for the ISS model.

Seeing how well they went on and how good they looked, I figured others might want to use them as well, so now they are a new product offering on!!

The application set comes with all of the printed panels indicated here:

• Main ISS Solar Array applications, front & back (16 each total – no spares)
• ATV Solar Array application, front & back (8 each total - 4 each needed)
• Russian Zvezda Module Solar Array applications (2 each total – no spares)
• Russian Zarya Module Solar Array applications (2 each total – no spares)
• JAXA Kibo Lab external pallet bottom surface application (2 total – 1 needed)
• JAXA Kibo Lab external module bottom surface applications (2 total – 1 needed)
• Unity and Tranquility Open Hatch Covers (4 total – no spares)
• Cupola window applications (6 wedge-shaped, 1 round – no spares)
• Module marking plate (some spares)
• “Dot” marker panel – (many spares)
• Soyuz/Progress Solar Panel Top panels (8 each – 2 spares)
• Soyuz/Progress Solar Panel Bottom panels (8 each – 2 spares)
• 10-page instruction manual

The basic rules of use, as well as guidance on the rest of the model, is provided in a 10-page illustrate instruction manual, provided with the set.

The set is available both on eBay and the LCSP website.

Go to the Store and check it out.

Meanwhile, it's back to work. Ad Astra per Formae!!