Introduction: "To Infinity & Beyond!" [Making a Correx SpacePod to Boldly Go to Space and Back]

Picture of "To Infinity & Beyond!" [Making a Correx SpacePod to Boldly Go to Space and Back]

I was part of a team at DesignSpark, tasked with sending a Superman figurine to Space in a SpacePod, then have him 'jump out' of the pod and free-fall back to earth. I was responsible for making a SpacePod capable of surviving the assent (-40C, wind, rain, cosmic radiation), and ensuring that the 4K cameras and GPS equipment all survived the 5m/s descent to Earth. (Other brave Superheros may apply).

I had recently just made a Card Rabbet Tool for making making fancy prototypes out of corrugated card... However, Card was not waterproof... luckily I realised that this tool also enabled me to work with Correx (like Corrugated Card - but made of out plastic, and therefore waterproof!). Correx also has a great strength to weight ratio and would absorb the shock of the landing. It was also cheap at ~£10/sq.m.

This Instructable starts right in at the deep-end, and give some insight into how to design something in CAD, and export it as a 'net' (2D template of a 3D form), so that it can be assembled from a sheet material. If you are new to using this tool, you may want to check this starter-guide out first. Once you have the idea, this Instructable can help you make a huge variety of forms, for prototype, architectural models, sculptures - and even Space Missions...

This SpacePod was designed in the style of Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall. Now, although this is clearly not as dare-devil as Felix/RedBull's efforts - what is amazing is the comparatively tiny cost of such a mission like this: Electronics that would have cost millions only a few decades ago are publicly available and ready to roll, from companies like Raspberry Pi [in the Sky]. It's inspiring stuff. For the full electronics low-down, read about it on the Design Spark blog, and video in Italian, here, but until you order your PCBs, do look through this Instructable and see how cheaply you can get a SpacePod together!



PS - Please vote if you think this inspired you to get more out of you favourite action figure...

UPDATE: Thanks for the votes! I appear to have made it to the finals of the formlabs competition - and bagged a super Instructables T-Shirt!

Step 1: Make a 'Net' of Your Model

Picture of Make a 'Net' of Your Model

Making a 'Net' is done by taking all of the surfaces of a 3D model, and 'flattening' them onto a 2D surface. This allows you to cut the shapes out - and then re-assemble them, knowing that they will form an accurate 3D shape.

I used Sheet-Metal software to design this, but many other alternatives, such as Pepakura will work too. Print everything out (use the 'tile' or poster-print function on your printer to do this for large models like this one)

Once you have your Net, lay it down on the Correx (perhaps stick it lightly with masking tape, or better yet, use a little spray-mount) and cut around it (cutting through the paper and the Correx as you go). It may require more than one cut to get each section cut free, and take care when cutting the Correx, as the direction of the fluting can make it unpredictable when applying pressure with a craft knife.

TIP 1 - Remove your paper net, and write in permanent market on the inside what each piece is. Inside is best as a. you probably won't see it and b. if you do need to remove it - washes off with IPA.

TIP 2 - if you have used spray mount, keep your Nets/templates somewhere where they cannot touch each other (I hung mine on the back of my door). Trust me, you'll regret it if you don't have some system like this to stop it all sticking together in one big mess!

TIP 3 - If you have a symmetrical design, you can just flip the nets, saving you time on printing and preparation.

Step 2: Start Assembly

Picture of Start Assembly

The 'Card Rabbet Tool' will cut a fillet out of one side of the Net. Some consideration will be required to ensure that the right faces are aligned. Try laying everything out on a table/the floor to think through the sequence - it will save mistakes later on.

The Tool has been designed to prevent cutting oneself, but as always, ensure that your fingers are out of the way of the tool's path at all times, and ensure the blades are not blunt.

To go round corners, slowly but firmly turn the Tool while progressing round the outline. If unsure, try on a scrap piece first.

When starting to glue the assembly, begin with the most 'visual face' (i.e. the best part of the model), that way when you work around and seal the unit, the front will look great.

Apply glue down the inner seams. This is where the Rabbet/Rebate joints along all the surface really help, as they not only allow the surfaces to come together neatly, but also to allow a greater surface area for the glue to bond to. (I was surprised at how well this works and the joins are very strong - try it on some scrap Correx to compare it with a standard 'butt-joint').

TIP: As mentioned in the 'beginner's guide' to working with this method - use Sellotape / Clear Sticky Tape to pre-align all the individual parts of the SpacePod together. This not only keeps everything aligned, it stops glue spurting out and making a mess and/or burning your fingers.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

You can use the Rabbet Joint to inset different colours, as shown with the yellow Correx inside the blue.

Assuming you are going to put stuff in your Pod/Capsule and take it out again, you don't want to entomb it, so I'd recommend putting some doors/hatches/flaps for access in your build, also with 'D' holes (3rd picture) so you can get your finger in behind it.

Another tip would be using double-sided Velcro strips to attach any electronics gear to the inside of the pod. Easy access and room for adjustment outweigh any benefits of carefully crafted housings, and also Velcro is a natural shock absorber.

Many cups of coffee later, and a lot of mess later - you will have Correx Model!

Step 4: Ready for Action!

Picture of Ready for Action!

I hope this has been useful. Please post any pictures of any new iterations of the CAD you do.



Useful Links:

Rabbet Tool (Instructions & CAD Files [FREE!]):

Rabbet Tool - to buy from Shapeways (if you have no access to a 3D Printer):

Beginner's Guide (to using the Rabbet Tool on Correx):

Design Spark:

Design Modelling:


JackANDJude (author)2014-11-16

Hey, Jude! I love your Card Rabbet Tool idea. I tried working with corruplast earlier this year, but found it difficult to remove the fluting. I ordered your tool (both parts) on shapeways, and voted for this instructable for both contests. I also have an instructable up for the formlabs contest, so please give it a look see. It's called "House of Oscillation" Optical Theremin:


Hey Jude (author)JackANDJude2014-11-16

Also voted for your House of Fun! Nice work!

I know the guys at LittleBits and I think I'm getting some Xmas Samples from them soon or in the new year, so am really looking forward to seeing what I come up with :o)

JackANDJude (author)Hey Jude2014-12-05

I got the Card Rabbet tool in the mail, and I started researching the other parts. I didn't realize Swann & Morton has a purchase minimum of 50 blades. Do you think I could purchase the magnets, nuts, bolts, and a few blades from you? Can you please PM me? Sorry to be a bother. If I realized earlier (and if I were 3D skilled), I would have adjusted for X-ACTO blades and US screw sizes.

Hey Jude (author)JackANDJude2014-11-16

Hey J&J, Thanks for the votes. (Just checking are you saying you found it difficult to remove the fluting before or after using the Rabbet Tool? If after, give me a shout and I can have a think... click contact on Design Modelling). How was the Shapeways parts btw? SLS right?

JackANDJude (author)Hey Jude2014-11-16

Removing the fluting was difficult with a straight x-acto, so I ordered your tool today to hopefully make it easier. I'll give you feedback when I source all the parts and give your tool a try... I watched a bunch of your YouTube videos today; thanks for publishing all that helpful info on the Ergo Mouse!... Thanks for your vote! :)

plasticbaldy (author)2014-11-19

How far away did it land ?

Hey Jude (author)plasticbaldy2014-11-20

About 10 miles away from where we started. The Pod and Superman were not too far apart from each other (only about 5 miles), which when you consider everything being from that hight, it is pretty close.

plasticbaldy (author)Hey Jude2014-11-20

That's amazing. Winds at those altitudes are typically 60-80kph and often >100.

Hey Jude (author)plasticbaldy2014-11-25

Typically - yes, but a load of planning went into picking a less windy day. David has a load of data (beyond your average weather forecast) to do this. I was impressed it landed not that far away from where we launched.

Austydude (author)2014-11-23


fishcalledwendy (author)2014-11-22


jefflambert (author)2014-11-20

Nice job! Probably the highest quality one I've seen yet and like the parachute re-entry, but you know he can fly, right? :)

Laral (author)2014-11-20

Wow what a great project.

timofthedeep (author)2014-11-19

How did you recover the pod?

Hey Jude (author)timofthedeep2014-11-20

We drove around with Ham-Radio gear, to track the GPS signal the Pod/Superman were emitting.

psargaco (author)2014-11-18

This is freaking awesome! I love this instructable.

PowellMade (author)2014-11-16

Soo coool!! What a fun idea! :) Thanks for making this.

Hey Jude (author)PowellMade2014-11-18

Very happy to - was a great team to be a part of!


wobbler (author)2014-11-18

You couldn't do that with a bird or a plane. Or could you?


Hey Jude (author)wobbler2014-11-18

Hmmmm.....Correx Planes.....that might be a nice project....

londobali (author)2014-11-18

First time i saw something like this was also done in UK, wait, maybe it was you guys.. Wait.. lemme find the youtube video..
Ah.. here it is:
it was quite a while ago.. so was this also yours?

Anyhow, i always wondered if i can do here in a small island in the tropics, the wind is always blowing so i guess it'll take a big luck to have it land back on the island again..

londobali (author)londobali2014-11-18

oh.. i just watched it again, and they were in New York, USA.. my bad.. :)

Hey Jude (author)londobali2014-11-18

This is awesome! Thanks for posting!!

It's amazing what stuff is out there online.

Always funny when you see the effect of the balloon 'pop' and the whole thing spirals out of control...perhaps we can make stabilising fins or something on the next one.

Ellexis (author)2014-11-18

Were you able to recover the cameras that were left behind with the balloon? Very cool project though and I appreciate you sharing your brilliance with everyone here! Technology is just so darn cool! Once again, thanks! :o)

Hey Jude (author)Ellexis2014-11-18

The 4K Cameras were really small (a new prototype from Panasonic not yet available on the market), so they arrived back to Earth safely. I was impressed the Correx landed without even a scratch!

craft-n-genius (author)2014-11-18

This is too cool to be true!!! The video is awesome, and is put together wonderfully. I think it is so cool when people send things like this into space; it really makes you apprentice technology and our earth. I really hope you win.... thanks for sharing!

Hey Jude (author)craft-n-genius2014-11-18

Yeah - the video is nicely done. Check out more projects on DesignSpark :o)

legionmanchild (author)2014-11-18

How were you able to film superman head-on during the descent? That is an awesome view and I'm curious how you were able to achieve it, thanks!

Hey Jude (author)legionmanchild2014-11-18

Yup - same as 'quader4''s comment - I'll try and get a shot of the filming rig for the decent.

quader4 (author)2014-11-18

How did you manage to film him while he was coming down?

What held the camera in place?

Hey Jude (author)quader42014-11-18

The filming was build into a rig with the parachute. It was built in a way that allowed it to stabilise the view. I'll see if they have any shots.

LesB (author)2014-11-18

Extremely cool.

But of course Superman does not need vehicles or parachutes. He can do all this on his own.

But I'm sure he'd do this just for the coolness factor.

robertodelle (author)2014-11-18


ShakeTheFuture (author)2014-11-15

This is super cool. I always wanted to send something to space.

Hey Jude (author)ShakeTheFuture2014-11-16



ShakeTheFuture (author)Hey Jude2014-11-16

One day I will :)

MsSweetSatisfaction (author)2014-11-15

That's so cool, it looks really great!

Thanks! I wonder if the Rabbet Tool will be used on other projects... It'll be interesting to see if it is modified/improved upon too.

In the meantime, I'll have to have a think about more waterproof/resistant/floating builds. I think the 'curves' can also be done on a laser cutter, so need to try that also, when I get time...

mikeasaurus (author)2014-11-15


I love the twist of not only sending something up, but have him 'jump' out and fall safely back to earth. Nice work!

Hey Jude (author)mikeasaurus2014-11-16

Thanks a lot mikeasaurus, it was tricky getting the 'burn-through' of the mechanism to work just right (on the Design Spark blog).

Also wanted to say your 'Dollar-Shop-Hacks' are awesome. There seems to be a trend among designers that 'you know your a designer/maker when you go to Pound/Dollar-Land for parts!'.

Nice work on the Watermelon Cake too.

Mielameri (author)2014-11-15

The pictures at the beginning are so cool! What a clever project

Hey Jude (author)Mielameri2014-11-16

Thanks for the reply! In case you are interested - check out the other guys who made it possible from RLAB:

Uncle Kudzu (author)2014-11-16

Brilliant! Thanks for making the Rabbet Tool available.

Hey Jude (author)Uncle Kudzu2014-11-16

Pleasure! Thought it'd be great to see how it prints on other people's printers / from Shapeways. Similarly, do let me know if you see an opportunity to change the design (I think I need a blade guard, after carrying one around in a box for a while now!)

nikbgs217 (author)2014-11-16

How did you blast him into Space? Rocket power? Didn't see any pictures of him blasting away? Why? That would be very cool

Uncle Kudzu (author)nikbgs2172014-11-16

Look again - you'll see that he used a balloon.

Hey Jude (author)Uncle Kudzu2014-11-16

Yup - we used a weather balloon. It was about as big as a car (on Earth) and would be double that at 22 miles high. Read more here, if you are interested:

I also made Solid Rockets when I was a kid...check out Estes if you fancy a go:

Greasetattoo (author)2014-11-24

Oh, that was super cool!
The video editing was spot on!
Oh, the guy behind the computer, your desk needs a little cleaning!
thanks people!

malakai8291 (author)2014-11-22

To infinity and beyond is buzz light year not superman

Hey Jude (author)malakai82912014-11-22


About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a Product Design Engineer, currently living in the UK. I have been fortunate to have lived, studied and worked in Hong Kong, Norway ... More »
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