Put British Space History on Your Desk with This Papercraft Arthur Satellite Tracker

The Arthur satellite dish — part of the Cornwall, UK Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station — is very important to Britain’s history in space. Arthur, which is officially designated as Antenna One, went online in 1962 and is one of the country’s first satellite communication ground stations. It was responsible for receiving some of the most iconic live television events of the 20th century, including the Apollo 11 moon landing. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of that historic moment, the UK’s Apollo50 event team has created a papercraft model of Arthur that tracks the International Space Station.

Project Arthur is constructed from 10 sheets of heavy paper card stock, and would look great as decoration on your shelf. But, it’s not just a pretty model. Using a Raspberry Pi Zero W and an IFTTT applet, it tracks the position of the ISS (International Space Station) in orbit. The applet monitors an API from NASA and Open Notify, and when the ISS is overhead it triggers an LED on the Arthur model to start blinking.

If you want to build your own, you’ll need 10 sheets of 160gsm card stock, PVA glue, a Raspberry Pi Zero W, a 10mm LED, and a jumper wires. Papercraft takes a bit of skill, but, with a few hours and a bit of patience, even children should be able to construct it (be sure to supervise them with the hobby knife!). Just download the PDF template files from the GitHub page, follow the instructions to setup the software, and start tracking the ISS with your very own Arthur satellite dish!

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