At a time when Single Stage To Orbit (SSTO) reusable vehicles were strongly pursued by NASA, a proposal by Lockheed Martin (Skunk Works) had plans of potentially replacing the Space Shuttle with a new concept. The Venturestar was designed with capabilities of carrying cargo and passengers to space, with potential to operate commercially. The X-33 was the spaceplane with the objective of demonstrating the technology necessary to Venturestar. The X-33 was to be equipped with revolutionary linear aerospsike engines, having a length/height of 21 m and width/wingspan of 23 m. Although a good portion of the steps for the X-33 were taken, the project was cancelled before the completion of the first prototype due to technical issues.
The model for 3D printing was designed to use the minimum of material and supports. The 15 parts of the model can be quickly printed using the respective predominant colours, black, grey and white. Based on a dimension reference in the manual, more dedicated enthusiasts can even design their own decals to enhance the look of the model even more!
The scale of 1/144 requires a regular 200X200 mm printing bed and a standard 0.4 mm nozzle. At its original scale, the final model has around 130 mm of length and 140 mm of wingspan. Any scale larger than 1/144 is compatible however, smaller scales are not recommended using a standard FDM printer due to the thickness of some parts. The tolerances are well within 0.2 to 0.5 mm so just minor sanding and filling will be required if you have a tuned printer. More instructions on the printing configurations and orientation are presented in the manual. The assembly process is self-intuitive (only three steps) and does not require any special tools other than glue (CA glue recommended), files and sandpaper for the finishing.
Even though the real spaceplane never made to reach orbit, it still sits amongst other very iconic spacecrafts that space enthusiasts love. So now you can add the X-33 to the spot it deserves in your space collection!
Make sure to check some of my other space related models in my profile. If you have any feedback, questions, suggestions or just want to share the results of your print feel free to contact me.