SCI's Whole Idea is to Mimic the
Lightweight Structure of a Spacecraft
Spacecraft like Voyager were designed taking great pains to minimize weight (well, mass actually) while maximizing strength. SCI's big idea is to take full advantage of this, and incorporate the spacecraft's key design features into the model kits. That way, we too can use very lightweight materials. With the high-resolution laser cutting we employ, those materials can be mostly paper. (The Voyager and Magellan kits come with a high-density styrofoam antenna dish in addition to their paper parts.)
We ship the parts to you in the mail...
There are major advantages to using paper for a model of a spacecraft. We use a special 100% recycled card stock. One advantage is that we can apply lithography and metal-foil bonding techniques, making sure all the proper colors and details are already applied to the parts in your kit, without your having to paint them in or apply them. Another advantage is that the parts can be labeled for your convenience in assembly. The list continues with the fact that the glue is non-toxic, and paper is a relatively easy material to work with. The use of 100% recycled paper is another advantage: look what's become of your discarded phone book! Paper products are perfectly suited for fast delivery by airmail and first class mail.
To make the image at left, we placed a part from the Voyager kit on our scanner with a picture of Saturn behind it (a picture taken by Voyager, of course!). This way, you can see the level of detail achieved by the laser-cutting process. The part may show up a little smaller than actual size, depending on your browser (and its entire length is not shown). The part folds up into a triangular boom which you can see in the closeup at right. Its yellow color represents the fiberglass Voyager's boom is made of. This boom's purpose on Voyager is to hold magnetic field sensors out away from the spacecraft. You may see an overall view of this boom in its full length, on an assembled Voyager model. This pretty well sums up how SCI's kits are designed, using key design features from actual spacecraft. The approach also works very well for our model of the Keck Telescope (Hawaii), since its modern mechanical design incorporates strong yet very lightweight structures.
You get the necessary information over the internet...
Now the final part of SCI's Big Idea is using the internet to provide Assembly Instructions, Fact Sheets, Presentation Guides, related web links, and other information for most of the kits. We avoid the expense of printing, stocking, packaging, and shipping a lot of paper. And the cost to you, and to the environment, is reduced. Using the website for this information, there is no practical limit to the number of pages or images we can include or link to. Plus, we can make instant updates, and use lots of color images, and link to related supporting information from many other pertinent sources.