Space station on view

Building a model space station comprising more than 500 pieces might seem a daunting task to some, but not to Dave Horvath, Physics and Astronomy staff member since 1984. An electronic technician, Horvath has built models as long as he can remember. “I’ve done things like this since my childhood in Hungary—I find it relaxing and fun,” he says.

The model, which hangs in the new Astro Gallery on the 4th floor of the Physical Science building, is a to-scale replica that is 1/144 the size of the actual International Space Station. This global research center orbits 220 miles above the Earth, and provides an environment where gravity, temperature and pressure can be manipulated, enabling scientific research that would be impossible in ground-based laboratories.

The model serves as a learning tool for students and passersby. It’s hard to miss the gigantic solar cells that cover most of the station, but it’s not so easy to spot a small space capsule near the bottom of the model, which Horvath proudly points out. “You see that,” he says, pointing to something that looks like a tiny space ship. “If anything goes wrong on the Station, astronauts can run to that little ‘life boat’ and fly back to the Earth, kind of like 007,” he laughs.

Not only does Horvath build models, but he also contributes detailed drawings of radio-controlled model airplanes to magazines, and flies them with fellow aficionados. “It can be a fun social event—flying model airplanes and meeting other flyers,” he says.

Horvath brought to the space station model the same attention to detail, patience and perseverance that he applies to his work fixing electronic equipment for his department. He painted each piece by hand, and worked on over the project for two months.