Look at This: Side-by-Side Comparison of Humanity's Notable Spaceships

By Sophie Bushwick | June 19, 2012 1:19 pm

spaceship sizes

Ever wondered how the Tiangong-1 module of China’s in-progress space station measures up to, say, the International Space Station? Over at the astronomy blog Supernova Condensate, molecular astrophysicist Invader Xan has created an infographic comparing the sizes of various spacefaring vessels. It’s fun to see how different ships stack up next to each other, like the British spaceplane Skylon versus the U.S.’s recently retired spaceplane (i.e., the Space Shuttle). And Invader Xan also made a bonus image to demonstrate how our past may compare to the future, where no man has gone before.

[via Boing Boing]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space, Technology
  • Jim Johnson

    Nice. I’d never heard of Skylon – checked out that link, and it’s interesting, if tests show it to be successful. I note that pretty much the same touting used to describe Skylon’s advantages was used for the Shuttle during its own testing phase. Hope it works, though. If it does, and they go through with plans to manufacture many as they hope, NASA can buy a little fleet and be off to the races.

    I liked the size comparisons, but now I’m wondering what the ISS in its first stage would have looked like in that chart (comparing it to Tiangong-1 now is like comparing an adult to an infant – it tells more about age than potential).

    Finally, Invader Xan, if you read this, please add the Millennium Falcon, Serenity, and Space 1999’s Eagle. Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Chris the Canadian

    In looking at this, the skylon is one BIG MOMMA SHIP!!! that’s the first thing that popped into my head. Not scientific, just surprise.

  • http://eclecticbreakfast.blogspot.com/ michael brady

    The Skylon looks like something marionettes with British accents used to fly in 1960s television programs http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057790/

  • Espen

    Where is Mir?

  • http://supernovacondensate.net Invader Xan

    Wow… Thanks for featuring my image. I’m glad you like it. :)

    @ Chris the Canadian – Skylon’s so big because it’s intended to be a single stage spaceplane. Unlike all of the others, it’s both orbiter and launch vehicle all rolled into one. Which is… ambitious. I really hope they can pull it off!

  • Jay29

    I would like to see Galactica as well.

  • jimbo

    were is sky lab?

  • wc3

    What? No Skylab?

  • Skylab

    Yeah, Um guys………

    You forgot me…….I was kind of a big deal.

  • Claybo

    Good point. Or Mir for that matter?

  • Bill Coffin

    No X-37B? You guys covered it in your previous article.

  • Glenn

    You kind of missed one of the big ones here : Skylab. So, in your article to show humanity’s “notable” space ships, you included some fictional space ships (never made and scrapped), and some that may not ever be made, but left out the United State’s first space station.

    Nice work.

  • http://scienceandtechnoworld.blogspot.com/ Science and techno world

    Related info:
    In development spaceships:

    1. Skylon is a design for an unpiloted spaceplane by the British company Reaction Engines Limited (REL). In paper studies, the costs per kilogram of payload are hoped to be lowered from the current £15,000/kg to £650/kg (as of 2011).

    2. The Scaled Composites Model 339 SpaceShipTwo (SS2) is a suborbital, air-launched spaceplane, designed for space tourism. It is under development by The Spaceship Company, a California-based joint venture between Scaled Composites and the Virgin Group, as part of the Tier 1b program.

    3. The “Orion” Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is a planned beyond low-earth orbit manned spacecraft that is being built by Lockheed Martin for NASA based on designs and tests already completed as part of the now-cancelled Constellation program, development for which began in 2005 as the Crew Exploration Vehicle.

  • thedude

    you also forgot dreamchaser?!

  • Jack

    It is not a complete list for sure. Nobody has mentioned Buran either.

  • David

    They left out Salyut as well.

  • Skylon

    The VentureStar was to be bigger than the Shuttle orbiter. What I see here is the X-33.

  • Jon

    I’m amazed nobody has yet mentioned the canonical Starship Dimensions site ( http://www.merzo.net/index.html ) for the fictional comparisons.

  • Al Treder

    To be fair to the Chinese, the International Space Station (ISS) started with just two modules, which are still there of course, and comprise about half of the length of the tail (upper part of the central string of modules in the diagram). The tail section was completed by adding the Russian Service Module at the back end. The Tiangong-1 is about the same size as the beginning two modules of ISS.

  • http://www.youtube.com/rondomon Ron Lansing

    I recently was testing a Sony Handycam for tracking space objects and got the Tiangong 1,
    up close. goto rondomon on youtube, or google Tiangong 1 Surprise AZ.


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