Willy Ley Space Taxi

Released this yesterday on Orbit Hangar Mods after a month of working on it.  It is my first spacecraft add-on, as well as my first attempt at animation within Orbiter.  Also, it is offered here as a donation to improve Orbiter overall.  The jury is still out on that one.

Conception and Project Description

My first inspiration came from the following Orbiter-Forum thread (my personal thanks to willy88): http://orbiter-forum.com/showpost.php?p=149436&postcount=1

Shortly after, while surfing the Web about Orion (Old Bang Bang) I came across this site, Fantastic Plastic, where I found an entry for Space Taxi (1959).  I recognized this from childhood, and thought it would be a worthwhile project to bring it alive in Orbiter, as well a simple vessel project – this being my first.

Quoting Fantastic Plastic:

Another classic Willy Ley design, the "Space Taxi" or "Space Buggy" is, in the description found on the 1969's re-release box, an "Intraspace cargo/passenger carrier designed to move men and material between space cargo ships and manned space stations."    Its clunky, purely functional design is typical of the brass-tacks engineering aesthetic that characterized conceptual spacecraft during the second half of the 1950's.


Despite its non-aerodynamic shape, the "Space Taxi" proved to be popular enough to warrant multiple re-releases following its 1959 debut.  In 1969 it was released with chrome-plated astronauts and machinery cages (the version shown here), and it was released again in 1996 along with the "Passenger Rocket" as part of Revell/Monogram's "Selected Subjects Program." 
This is a refurbished "chrome" edition from the 1960's.

I used the photos to estimate the dimensions, based on the suited figures for a “known” reference and used artistic license during the mesh design.  The hatches at both ends had to go, since it looked impossible for a man in a pressure suit to squeeze past the thruster assembly inside the cage, and well as being dangerous.  I added attitude thrusters, since the original model didn’t have any – and still wonder how “they” thought this thing would be maneuverable without them (I’m guessing gyros or PFM).  The inner bulkhead with a cabin hatch can’t be seen in the photos – but logically has to be present.  I followed the model photos for the hull textures and material colors rather than the box art.  I couldn’t identify the marking on the pilot dome, so I used a U.S. Space Command insignia.

Close-ups of hull markings:

This add-on is likely out of place in the Orbiter universe except in the World of Colliers add-on by Sputnik.  I have provided scenarios for both World of Colliers and standalone situations.  Nevertheless, since Werner Von Braun’s version of the Space Taxi has been included in the Orbiter universe already, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to Willy Ley to include his version of the Space Taxi.

Required Software

1. Orbiter Space Flight Simulator, version 2006 patched to 2006-P1 (build Sep 29 2006). 

Link: http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/orbit.html

2. Vinka’s Spacecraft3

Link: http://users.swing.be/vinka/

Optional Software

1. Sputnik’s add on: World of Colliers.

Link: http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=407

2. Gadfly’s add on: Space Taxi (Spacecraft3).

Link: http://www.orbithangar.com/searchid.php?ID=4285

Special notes for installation

All file names are unique and should not overwrite existing files, especially if World of Colliers and/or Space Taxi (Spacecraft3) are already installed.   I personally recommend JoneSoft Generic Mod Enabler (last seen here: http://www.users.on.net/~jscones/software/products-jsgme.html) to install all add-ons for Orbiter as it makes installation and de-installation much easier.

Known Issues and Development Specifications

As of the initial release, I haven’t encountered any compatibility problems with running this add-on with World of Colliers or Space Taxi (Spacecraft3) add-ons.

This add-on was developed for Orbiter version 2006 patched to 2006-P1 (build Sep 29 2006).  It was tested using an Orbiter installation with up to 60 other add-ons activated (using JoneSoft Generic Mod Enabler) without any problems noted…so far.

PC specifications used for development and testing (please don’t laugh, I know it is old):

ASUS A7N266-VM motherboard AGP4X 266 MHz bus
2400+ AMD Athlon XP Processor
64MB GeForce4 Titanium-4200 Video card
Windows XP Home Edition

Future Improvements

I have considered adding a virtual cockpit.  However, that seems to be overkill considering the “rugged simplicity” of the original design.  I have also considered adding UMMU support and UCGO support.  But first, I have to become more proficient with the software and software tools to do so.  I am also waiting to see how popular this initial release is and for feedback from the Orbiter community.

Credits and Acknowledgements

Willy Ley: for the original concept

Dr. Martin Schweiger: for Orbiter Space Flight Simulator (sorry, I felt that Mr. Ley deserved top billing).

Vinka: for Spacecraft3

Sputnik: for World of Colliers add-on

Gadfly: for Space Taxi (Spacecraft3) add-on

willy88: for the inspiration to go “retro”

If I have overlooked anyone for due and proper credit, please let me know and I will add them – and apologize profusely for the oversight.
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