Humans love the sky. We love flight. On the list of favorite superpowers it’s right up there with having super strength and being rich – I’m looking at you Batman. But despite how much we love to fly, humans just weren’t meant to, otherwise we’d have wings. And even when you strap a pair of wings to our backs, things still turn out badly. Sorry Icarus.
The story of Icarus is living proof – OK so not exactly living proof – that if you want to touch the sky, you can’t skimp on materials or scale. So when model enthusiast Philipp and his friend LostInSpace decided they wanted to build a replica of the space shuttle Discovery, they knew they had to go BIG.
“Me and LostInSpace have loved space shuttles since we were kids,” Philipp says. “So when we were working on Discovery, we knew we wanted it to be huge. Our build of Discovery is an 11:1 scale replica, the largest you’ll find.”
Counts on fingers 11:1 what? Fortunately, Philipp has an explanation on scaling for those of us whose superpower isn’t math.
“With an 11:1 scale replica, that means the size of the model is 11 times bigger than real life measurements.”
Now you’re probably thinking what I’m thinking. “Wait,” you think. “This is Minecraft. Wouldn’t any replicas you build inside the game be smaller than real life not bigger?”
“Not exactly,” Philipp explains. “A Minecraft player model is 2 blocks high. So I can assume 1 block is 1 meter.” And that makes sense if you think about it.
The average man is 1.78 meters tall (that’s 5 feet 10 inches for all the deviants not on the metric system). Round that up to 2 meters even (6 feet) and you’re at 1 meter per Minecraft block.
(Just so you know, I asked Tom to check with the Minecraft Bureau of Weights and Measures—the calculations check out.)
“The full length of the shuttle with boosters and the orbiter mounted on the fuel tank is 56.1 meters,” Philipp continues. That means a 1:1 scale replica of the space shuttle would be only 56 blocks high, and while that’s pretty tall, that’s simply not BIG.
But if you scale up the model from 1:1 to 11:1 you get a whopping 617.1 meters.
“Our replica is 617 blocks long, 261 blocks wide, and 253 blocks high.”
The shuttle is so big, Philipp notes he and LostinSpace had to build the shuttle on it’s side, not straight up and down like you’d see it on the launch pad.
“The 256-block height cutoff is a big limitation for scale builders. Because of that, most builders choose to create models that are larger in horizontal directions, like ships.”
Philipp has built lots of ships before, it’s how he met his building buddy LostinSpace.
“I met LostInSpace on Youtube. He asked me if I could build the USS Arizona for him then invite him to my server so he could see the finished product,” Philipp says. “I agreed, but we had so much fun that I invited him much earlier than expected and we ended up working on the ship together. From there, we kinda developed our own personal style that worked in tandem with each other. He was the ‘helping hand’, filling in open spaces and copying elements from one side to another. While I was the drafter, I collected the data and did the calculations then transferred that information into Minecraft.”
Speaking of data and calculations, Philipp did all the data-ing by hand. With all the programs available to make building such huge projects easier, this was done the old fashioned way.
“The easiest part was definitely making the tank, because it has a simple shape. The hardest was the wing since it’s really complex. That it was possible to make all these little details at this size, I’m really proud of how this turned out.”
And it’s the details that make this shuttle space worthy, but only if you don’t look too closely.
“Unfortunately Discovery has no interior. We only made the back wall of the cockpit, so that you can’t see the emptiness when you look through the glass. The inside is almost completely hollow.”
Houston, we have a problem.
Renders by Philipp