Gonzalez and Substelny building the display. Oscar Rosado | The Collegian

Oscar Rosado

Prepare to be blasted away by the Bass Library’s new astronaut display. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, and thus is the perfect time to make such a display. Michael Substelny, Assistant Professor of Science and Mathematics Division who also teaches engineering, here on campus, came up with the idea. 

“The display attracts attention to the books regarding real-world space and science fiction,” Substelny said.

Gonzalez putting the finishing touches on the Lost in Space Chariot. Oscar Rosado | The Collegian

With the help of local model maker, J. Carlos Gonzalez, the vision of having an out of this world display was fully realized. 

The display includes such space objects such as a vinyl cutout of astronaut Alan Shepard which was made in the campus’ Fab Lab. Other real world space objects include astronaut John Glen’s Mercury Capsule of Friendship 7, a model of Neil Armstrong on the Moon, a poster of astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the Saturn V Rocket and an assortment of small space crafts, and objects. 

Science fact and fiction

The display not only includes real life space objects, but also fictitious models, coming from such science fiction series as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lost in Space, Battle Star Galactica, Space: 1999 and even Doctor Who. Pieces include, an X-wing, a Snowspeeder and the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, the TARDIS from Doctor Who, the Lost in Space Chariot, the Cylon Raider and two variations of the Colonial Viper from Battle Star Galactica, the Eagle One from Space: 1999 and the U.S.S Sally Ride from Star Trek. 

The U.S.S Sally Ride, especially is unique in the display as it has interactive sounds. It was made by Thomas Robertson, a local professor of the Science and Mathematics Division who sometimes taught gaming. The U.S.S Sally Ride is a 3D printed model, and took a few weeks/months to construct entirely, sounds and all. There are multiple buttons on it, which Substelny says anyone could, “have countless adventures with it,” as pushing the buttons not only sound excerpts from the show, but also reenactments. 

Most of the models present were made by Gonzalez, who has been building models since at the age of eight. There are models where he built from kits, such as the Lost in Space Chariot and the crafts from Battle Star Galactica. There are also some models where Gonzalez built entirely from scratch such as the X-wing from Star Wars, and the TARDIS from Doctor Who. Gonzalez said it took seven months and $300 to build the X-wing, and a mere three months with the TARDIS.


Gonzalez said the Millennium Falcon and the Space 1999 Eagle were not finished when Substelny asked him if he’d be willing to show the models for the display. “I take my time when building models, but I only had a few weeks to finish not just one, but two. Meeting the deadline was my biggest challenge,” Gonzalez said.

Substelny says he feels privileged to work on the display, and hopes to more in the future.

The astronaut display is planned to stay in the campus library until the end of the school year.