Whether you’ve been dreaming about space all your life or just dreaming of a car on your way to Mars, there’s no denying that space exploration continues to be a passion for many.

While joining the NASA engineering team may not be an option for most, all of these backyard space projects have taken place in the homes, garages, and gardens of amateur rocket engineers and enthusiasts. 3… 2… 1… rock out!

1. Flight control department

This incredible flight controller was built by Jeff Highsmith of Make. With various switches, knobs, bulbs and dials, this incredible project looks and sounds just like the real thing.

Using an iPad to play space video and a Raspberry Pi in combination with an Arduino, all the controls really work. With virtually accurate labels for oxygen levels, altitude, speed, and more, there’s not much you can do.

In addition to the cool buttons, Jeff has programmed simulations of real historical space glitches, complete with accurate solutions! Unfortunately this remote doesn’t control a real spaceship, but there’s no reason why it couldn’t reprogram a bit.

2. Lunar laser

When Apollo 11 landed on the Moon in 1969, the astronauts left behind more than footprints. The surface of the moon contains a 2-foot-wide panel covered with 100 mirrors. Using a laser and some sensitive electronic devices, you can fire a laser on the moon, bounce it off a mirror, and detect the reflected beam.

Of course, you will need a very powerful laser, a large telescope and special equipment, but nothing will stop you from renting time at the local observatory. You will not be able to reuse your old laser pointer. old laser pointer. old laser pointer but!

3. High altitude balloon

The premise is simple. Attach the camera, parachute and GPS to the weather balloon. Send it into space and then pick up the pieces!

This particular guide is from the Dechert 360 YouTube channel, but there are hundreds, if not thousands, of high altitude balloon projects.

While you may need a permit to launch, launching high altitude photography is one of the easiest projects you can work on and a few specialized parts are inexpensive and readily available.

4. International Space Station Orbit Tracker

This space project idea comes directly from YouTube creator Practical Engineering. This mechanical marvel uses an Arduino-compatible development board at its core and simply points to the location of the International Space Station.

While this project uses a stepper motor and a few specialized attachment points, the ISS tracker code on GitHub should be enough to get you started regardless of your specific hardware configuration.

5. DIY telescope

This impressive telescope is split in two for easy portability and is capable of capturing impressive images of the Moon and nearby planets!

Created from the Experiment at Home YouTube channel, this tutorial covers everything you need to know about building your own telescope at home.

While you will need access to a 3D printer, our guide to buying 3D printers and the Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing Guide should help you here.

6. DIY Radio Telescope

This impressive project was built on YouTube channel The Thought Emporium. This project, created using a satellite and a set of 3D printed devices, can track satellites over 20,000 miles away — impressive!

Although this project involves manipulation of the microwave frequency bands, it is not as complex as it seems. Detailed instructions and implementation details are outlined in the video above, and with over 120,000 views, there is sure to be someone else who has tried this project.

7. Kerbal Space Software Console

If you are a fan of Kerbal Space Program space flight simulator and you have installed some of the best mod mods mods the next logical step is to create a simulator management console.

Powered by Raspberry Pi, this brilliant interface is the remote control for your virtual spaceship. Created by YouTuber Steven Marlow, this console displays real-time missile stats and has multiple indicators, buttons, and toggles. You can easily expand this into an entire flight deck if you wish.

8. DIY spaceship

This ambitious project comes from crowdfunding venture Copenhagen Suborbitals. With this project, I dream of sending an amateur astronaut into space!

It’s possible to start your own space mission, but you’re probably better off donating this one if you’re interested. The team in Copenhagen Suborbitals are well versed in the basics required for their dream, but even so, there is a long way to go.

If you need more convincing that the launch of this rocket will be successful, take a look at the rocket gallery, which documents the impressive engineering work on rocket prototypes.

9. Functioning suit

Not just film, but this suit really works. Or at least it would if it went into orbit. Dreaming of a childhood in space, Cameron Smith decided to explore and create her own work suit.

Ultimately, teaming up with the previously mentioned Copenhagen suborbitals, Cameron’s suit was chosen to be used as the official homemade space mission suit. Not only that, but the suit is something of an open source design, or it will be completed someday.

What better way to contribute to the space program than by working on a space suit?

10. 1/10 Scale Saturn V Model Rocket

This outstanding model of the Saturn 5 rocket was produced by Steve Eaves. At 36 feet tall and weighing over 1,600 pounds, this model holds the world record for the largest amateur rocket ever made.

While there is no doubt that this is an incredibly complex space project, it only shows what is possible with a little creative thinking. The real Saturn 5 is a tricky piece of kit, but that doesn’t mean the working scale model isn’t without problems.

If you’re new to hobby rocket building, you might want to start with something a little smaller, like the Estes Tandem-X, which is a more manageable 30 inches tall.

Book a ticket to Mars with DIY space projects

As these projects show, space projects can be created not only by NASA scientists. Whether you’re using functional operating room equipment or bedroom-sized replicas, there’s nothing stopping you from trying out some of these projects!

As a space geek, you can also check out these sites about landing a man on the first moon. If you’re looking for something a little more mundane on Earth, why not take a look at these amazing space visualizations, and if you want to book a ticket to Mars, then take a look at these ten essential books you must read before Traveling to Mars.

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