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Pat Leblanc's Mattel Astrospace Center Capsule


Pat once again surprised me just before Labor Day this year (2006) by sending me a photo of his latest project, the Mattel Astrospace Center Capsule. The intent if for an initial launch during Labor Day.

From Pat:
Here's a picture of my latest vacforming project. I finally unpacked my equipment after being in the new house after nearly two years. It is the Mattel Astrospace Center Capsule. It holds one astronaut in a molded couch similar to the Space Ship Case and will be launched on top of a 3-liter water rocket.


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Inspiration
The inspiration for this project is the capsule that appears on the Mattel Astrospace Center (MAC) logo. I wanted to vacform something that could be launched on a water rocket (similar to Steve Sherman's Space Bubble project).

I thought about doing another Mercury capsule but decided on something more in the MMM vein.



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Form Patterns
The diameter of the capsule is 6-1/2" at the bottom and is 6-3/4" tall. I drew the capsule on a piece of paper to make sure that the figure would be able to easily sit inside without extreme bending (unlike the Mercury). I then looked around for pieces of styrofoam to fill in the cross section.


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Shaping
The slabs are cut into rough disks and assembled on a spindle that mounts in a drill press. The pattern for the capsule was transferred to a piece of plywood that is covered with sandpaper.


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Drill Press Mounting and Finishing
Here's the assembly before and after turning in the drill press.


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Finishing Voids
There's always a few rough spots that need filling in with spackle.


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Covering the Forms
In order to protect the styrofoam from the heat of the melted plastic, the master is covered with pieces of aluminized duct tape. Because of the odd shape, the master is covered with a series of triangles.


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Vacuform!
Here is a vacuformed shell still attached to the sheet.


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Creatign the Seat/Bottom
These pictures show the master for the bottom of the capsule that has the couch for the astronaut molded in. The couch is covered with decals similar to those on the seat of the AstroTrak.


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Working Out Side Graphics
I had to take a few liberties with the markings on the side of the capsule. In the logo, it looks like the capsule was divided into three sections. No problem there, but the bottom of each panel looks kind of high considering I had to put a hatch in one of them and place the figure into the couch on the bottom. I extended each section toward the bottom of the capsule so the bottom of the hatch is 1" above the bottom of the capsule. The lines are pieces of black electrical tape. The nose was painted flat black and sprayed with laquer. The other sections are marked with a US flag and the traditional number "3".

The black section below the capsule is also a little longer than the logo. This section is made from two CD's and piece of a 2-liter soda bottle. The section is a little longer to provide stability when the capsule is launched.



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The Hatch
The hatch is held in place with flexible magnetic strips (four squares on the outside of the hatch and two strips on the inside of the capsule). Another figure is shown standing next to the capsule for scale.


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The Booster!
Here's a picture of the capsule sitting on its 6-liter booster (two 3-liter bottles). The overall height of the stack is right at 39". The plan is for the capsule to separate from the booster and come down on its own parachute. We'll see! The first test launch is scheduled for Labor Day 2006.


Launch!




All Mattel images and captions are copyright Mattel and used without permission. All other content, including images and editorial is Copyright © 1997-2017 John Eaton or Pat LeBlanc. If there are any comments or objections, please contact John Eaton, by clicking here or Pat LeBlanc by clicking here.


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