Hasegawa 1/200 Space Shuttle and Hubble Telescope
KIT #: 10676
DECALS: Three options


Newspaper cartoonists had a field day when the Hubble Space Telescope first went into orbit in 1990. A tiny flaw in the telescope's mirror meant the imagery wasn't nearly as awesome as scientists had hoped, or expected. Three years later, a servicing mission saw astronauts fix the telescope in a space walking tour de force. Subsequent servicing missions improved Hubble's performance and prolonged its life right up to the end of the Shuttle program.

The Shuttle's ability to fly a large payload and a large crew, and to grapple an orbiting satellite so astronauts could perform maintenance, made all this possible.

Shuttles varied in appearance over the years but the most obvious change was the switch from the "worm" logo to the "meatball" logo in 1992/93. Shuttles from the first mission in 1981 through to at least the end of 1993 wore the 70s style NASA logo, which looks vaguely like a worm; shuttles after that wore the familiar blue circle with a red swoosh on it, known as the "meatball". Why anyone would want to eat a blue meatball is a mystery for another day.

The kit has the red worm appropriate for the telescope, but for the shuttle, there is only the meatball. That means you can't build an accurate model of either the Hubble launch mission (STS-31 Discovery April 1990) or the first Hubble servicing mission (STS-61 Endeavour December 1993). Both those shuttles wore the worm. Because the decal sheet doesn't include names for Columbia (or Challenger), you also cannot build the meatball-era Servicing Mission 3B STS-109 Columbia in March 2002.

Without modification you can build the following Hubble-related missions from this kit:

Servicing Mission 2 STS-82 Discovery February 1997
Servicing Mission 3A STS-103 Discovery December 1999
Servicing Mission 4 STS-125 Atlantis May 2009

As you can see, this means the Endeavour name on the decal sheet is redundant, assuming you plan to build a shuttle-Hubble combo.

Apart from that, the kit is very nice for this scale. It has Hasegawa's typical quality in engraved panel lines, and the surface details on the Hubble telescope are quite nicely done. Some might say they are over-emphasized but I think it will look good with silver foil smoothed on top. Pictures show the telescope to be quite shiny, so I think that will be the way to go.

Engine bells are always a point of contention on space shuttle kits. These ones are ok, roughly bell-shaped I guess, and with some raised detail. In 1/144 anyone half-serious about their shuttle would replace the kit engines with resin from Real Space Models, but I don't think there are resin replacements available for this kit. They'll do for me, I think.

The kit also comes with a Spacelab for the payload bay. Given the lack of worm logo and Columbia signs, I think that means the only accurate out-of-the-box non-Hubble related model would be of STS-71 Atlantis. Columbia seems to have done the majority of Spacelab missions with the habitable pod, and the ones flown by other shuttles (apart from STS-71) were all worm-era flights. But STS-71 was a cool mission, being the 100th US human spaceflight and the first Shuttle-Mir docking mission.

The research set out above is pretty elementary. Doubtless there are shuttle experts out there who know a lot more than I do about this fairly esoteric topic. Help is to be found on the internet and various model forums. But I've already decided to do mine as STS-125.

A neat kit, great for those who don't have room for a 1/144 or 1/72 Shuttle or who want a decent payload included in their kit. And for those so inclined, probably a great foundation for a tricked-out build.

Richard F

September 2012

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