When I was a kid, one of my favorite places in the world was the National Air and Space Museum down in Washington, DC. It, and its annex building over in Virginia, have some of the coolest exhibits imaginable. Moon rocks! Early airplanes! Satellites! But three exhibits, out of them all, stand above: The SR-71 Blackbird, the Concorde, and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Since my childhood trips to Air and Space, I’ve loved all three of those planes. So it’s very convenient for me that the Smithsonian has begun 3D scanning its exhibits, and leaving the models up online for anyone to go print out. By the end of today, I’ll have a Discovery of my own.
The Smithsonian has been digitizing exhibits since 2020, but I only recently discovered their list of Air and Space models. It’s got Discovery, the Apollo 11 command module (inside, outside, and in parts), the Wright Flyer, the Bell X-1 — even Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 space suit is included. Do you want an astronaut standing on your desk? You can have one, for the few cents in filament and hours in time it takes you to print one out.
I’m a major proponent of 3D printing, and I’m always excited to find new uses for the magic box of thing creation that sits in the corner of my apartment. With the hobby getting more and more accessible all the time, the future looks bright for those of us who enjoy DIYing our own little plastic trinkets. So go, fire up your printer, and get yourself a Discovery for your desk. You know you want one.