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I want to make a life-sized model of Sputnik. Answered

The original Sputnik looked really slick and threatening! I want one! Unfortunately, the original is unavailable, so I'll have to settle for something more modest.

The original Sputnik looked like the one in the picture. My goal is to make a model that is life-sized and pretty good looking. Coolness is paramount; precision and accuracy are not.

Does anyone have ideas about how to make the sphere part easily?

The criteria for my model sphere is that it needs to be:
    Roughly 60cm in diameter (I believe the original was ~58cm)
    Strong and rigid enough that I can attach the four antennas
    Light enough that I can hang it from my ceiling
    It is okay to be a little rough (i.e. it doesn't need to be polished steel or whatever)

Right now I'm thinking I should get a bunch of pieces of hard-cell foam, stack and glue them, and carve a sphere. Then I'll sand it smooth and spray paint it silver. Is this a good approach?

Any other ideas for the project?



Best Answer 7 years ago

I'd buy a plexiglass (Perspex or Lucite) sphere online, and use silver paint on the inside surface. Since the original Sputnik had an obvious seam, you don't need to get hugely expensive seamless spheres.

For the four antennae, you could use old FM radio antennae (e.g., from a junked car).

I really like your idea about painting the inside surface - it will make the sphere look polished and shiny.

I just searched for spheres online. It looks like it may be most sensible to get two hemispheres (~$100/ea) and attach them to one another instead of an actual sphere ($$$). What do you think?

Are they that expensive? I'm sure I've seen reasonable plastic spheres for less than $200; let me do a bit of Google searching myself...

Wow. You're right. I'm mostly finding ~$100 domes. I tried plexiglass, plastic, lucite, and acrylic as keywords, and inlcuded "24 inch" in my search (since I'm in the U.S.). You might also try "camera dome" as a search.

California Quality Plastics does cutsom and stock work. You might consider contacting them for a quote, but be clear what your upper limit budget is.

Now here's an interesting option! A full-dome security mirror for $70. Two of them would still be nearly $150, but the mirror finish would be awesome :-) Using a Dremel to take off the rims should be pretty straightforward if you're careful.

Couldn't believe I found an article on making a Sputnik! How is your progress? I'm looking for something similar, but actually out of metal. My place is mid-century modern and retro, and my thinking is to have this sitting on its antennae with an access port at the top to store martini glasses or similar. I've just started my search, so any ideas and recommendations web sites appreciated!

I made a Machine Age Sputnik useing a stainless steel gazing ball I bought on ebay 34 dollars. Its fun because its easy to alter and you can do alot with it. You can buy the hardware on McMaster Carr or alter the antenna mounts with something from Parts Express.


I am trying to make a Sputnik and have bought a gazing ball. I also have some telescopic antenna but was wondering how you attached them to the ball. I have to make sure the final product is sturdy and portable because we plan to use it in a show which we are taking around primary schools. Any advice would be really appreciated.

Keep/make a visible hole/window and put a stuffed toy dog in there - (wasn't the dog called 'Leyla'? from memory???) and maybe a sound track of woeful woofs!

Laika was in Sputnik 2, which had a much different design from Sputnik 1.
Sputnik 2: http://www.mentallandscape.com/S_Sputnik2.jpg
Sputnik 1: http://www.mentallandscape.com/S_Sputnik1Lab.jpg

The dog was called Laika (Russian: Лайка).

Thank you! I had quite forgotten!
Now you have said it, it comes back to me!

A 23" diamater ball "might" be in the realm of Christmas decorations in big department stores. Just a thought to get you going in another direction.

Adding to Prefesser's answer, I don't see why you'd have to cut it in half to remove the beach ball... Just leave it in there.

get a sperhe from wallmart then add four radio antenes and also add sheet metal to the outside and vella you have spuntik

Intresting idea! :)

I love this project idea. I may have to think about doing one myself!

Good luck! I'm looking into doing lathed spheres for a solar system, but that might be too heavy for a project of this size. If you wanted to do a miniature, a wooden orb might work.


7 years ago

one of those large excersise balls painted silver might work. A really big balloon with papermache might work too.

You could make it out of one of those round Weber (or cheap chinese brand) grills.

Garden centre buy a silver ball there are lots about at the right size.

Two salad bowls? I've seen it, (the real one)-it looks rather hand-made :)

The one that inspired me was a flight-ready backup for the original Sputnik 1 on display at the Cosmosphere Space Museum in Hutchinson, Kansas (USA). Hutchinson is too far out of the way for most of us, but stop by if you happen to be passing through. It is a phenomenal museum. (http://www.cosmo.org)

My other favorite thing at the Cosmosphere is a huge (real) SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, which hangs over the lobby. Looks like something Darth Vader's even-more-evil brother would fly. Here: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird.jpg

I remember back quite a few years ago, I was in our garage, and among all the art things fiercely gethering dust (for some reason when we put something in the garage, we didn't end up using it again until it had gathered a lot of dust, except for the chicken and pig feed, but that is beside the point). I found foam orbs, i'm not sure exactly how big they were, but they could fit in one hand, but you couldn't close that hand. If you can find these, it will be a lot easier than the method you are thinking of. Unfortunately though, I have no idea where we got them, you might try a local crafts store, to see if they have them.
If you don't want to go this route, I would definitely suggest going with Prfessers suggestion of paper mache (I think it is actually spelled papier mache, with an accent over the e in mache, correct me if I am wrong).

do you have $2,000,000?

Your approach will probably work, but is going to be a lot of work. I suggest using a beach ball of appropriate size as a mold, and cover with strips of paper mache (sp?). When you've got an appropriate thickness, at least 4-5 mm, let it dry completely, then cut it down the middle, pull out the beach ball, glue it back together, sand it smooth, add any trim, and spray paint.

Try each technique on a small model first to see what it will look like.

A better choice than paper mache is gummed paper tape of the sort used to seal boxes. It will take a number of rolls of that tape, but it's quite strong. That's the stuff used to make aerial shells for fireworks displays. Good luck!