Introduction: Mini Staple Space Shuttle

I'm sure many of you were saddened to hear that the space shuttle was partaking in its final mission. I know I was. This Instructible is dedicated to the Space Shuttle and all the knowledge it has given us, all the payload it has delivered to the heavens, and how many dreams it has inspired. Furthermore, this Instructible is dedicated to the entire crew of STS-135 that they may have a safe and memorable mission in the stars.

This miniature space shuttle measures 3 centimeters in wingspan, 4 centimeters in length, and 1.3 centimeters in height, making it one of the smallest paper planes on instructables. It is also easy to build and cheap enough to fit anybody's (defense) budget. However, it is tricky to throw and needs very precise trimming to get a good glide.Once trimmed though, this glider had a respectable glide slope and a very smooth and stable flight. If, for whatever reason, this paper shuttle does not seem to fly, do not hesitate to leave me a message and I will see to it that it flies right. Any recommendations and suggestions are also very much appreciated.

Step 1: Materials

1) Paper
- Light paper, such as writing paper/looseleaf/pad paper is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
- The piece should be at least 4x6 centimeters.

2) Stapler
- Use standard staples. They are approximately 1.5 centimeters in length.

3) Scissors
- Use a small, sharp pair.

4) Metric Ruler
- Small, clear rulers work the best for this project.

5) Pencil
- Mechanical pencils or a well-sharpened wood pencil is ideal.

Step 2: Fold Paper in Half

Fold the piece of paper you will be using in half. If you are using a Post-it Note, fold the two sticky sides together. This will hold the sides steady during the next steps.

Step 3: Draw the Design

Draw the design onto the piece of paper using the template provided. Start from the top, and work you way downward, making sure you draw the reference lines. Make sure to be as accurate as possible and ensure that the top of the fuselage is touching the folded side of the paper. Also make sure NOT to draw the design over the sticky portions of the Post-it Note if you are using one. The dashed lines indicate folds, the dotted lines indicate reference lines, and the solid lines indicate cuts. Draw the reference line for the nose first, and then draw in the curve afterwards.

Step 4: Cut Out the Design

The glider has to be cut out before the staple is attached. Carefully cut out the design, remembering to cut out the black lines specified on the diagram. Ensure not to slice off the wings, cut too deep, or leave excess paper on the cutout. Also, it is important to make sure that the paper is perfectly flat to ensure symmetry of both sides. Any folds or curves on either side will result in an asymmetrical glider that will not fly. Discard the excess paper.

Step 5: Assemble the Tail

Snip off one of the vertical stabilizers and fold the other one inside the fuselage as shown. Fold the entire cutout in half when finished.

Step 6: Add the Staple

Carefully add the staple to the design as indicated, pressing the layers together so that they don't get warped. The staple functions as a nose ballast to shift the aircraft's center of gravity forward. Make sure it is centered in the space provided. If not, remove it and insert another staple in the correct position. It is recommended to test the stapler on scrap paper to determine the exact location of the staples.

Step 7: Fold the Wings Up

Due to general incompetence on my end, I forgot to change the wing fold line to a dotted line on the template (this will be corrected in the future). For now, use this picture to determine which line to fold the wings up on. Fold up on the SECOND, NOT FIRST LINE. In addition, make sure the wings are PERFECTLY STRAIGHT (i.e. no dihedral or annhedral).

Step 8: Add Up Elevator

This next step is extremely important in ensuring that the glider will fly. Fold the elevators up about two millimeters higher than the leading edge. This produces a positive angle of attack that points the wings upward in relation to the air around it. It is this angle between the wings and the "relative wind" that produces the majority of lift, and without it, the glider will not fly. The measurement is only approximate as you will have to adjust it later on.

However, the two elevators have to have the exact same deflection. Look at the glider from the front and make sure everything is flat and symmetrical, especially the vertical stabilizer.

Step 9: Liftoff!

Grab your glider by the fuselage or wings and give it a very light toss. Note the direction of flight. If the glider dives, add more up elevator. If the glider pulls up and stalls, decrease the up elevator. If the glider curves or spirals in one direction, curl the vertical stabilizer very carefully in the opposite direction of the turn. If it still spirals, flatten the wings and ensure the elevators are even. Keep repeating the process until the glider flies in the desired direction. I'll try to get a video up asap.

Step 10: Decorate Your Shuttle!

You can decorate your shuttle using common markers and pens. Make sure to use them conservatively, as excessive ink may weaken the paper. Also make sure to decorate conservatively, as excessive emphasis on detail may make decrease your social life substantially... believe me:-P

To create the conventional shuttle paint job, just use Google images. While all of NASA's shuttles carry nearly identical liveries, there is nothing stopping you from creating your own unique paint job. Be it flames, flowers, or your country's flag, always make sure to be creative! You can even create your own insignia of a fictitious space agency! Whatever crazy design you do come up with, feel free to post it in the comment section below.
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