Hand-Held Hubble: Expert Paper Model


Browse the photo gallery and get some ideas for your own model.

HubbleSite works better when you install the latest Flash Player for your browser.

Difficulty: Very difficult
Durability: Moderate
Detail: High

Our expert paper model is made from paper and cardboard and consists of around 300 pieces. You will need approximately 30 hours to complete this scale model, which features extremely accurate three-dimensional representations of details ranging from cryocoolers to handrails. This model depicts the interior of the Hubble, including instruments and mirrors, as well as the exterior. This model requires the use of a sharp craft knife, such as an X-acto knife, and superglue.

This model reflects the state of the telescope after Servicing Mission 3B, which took place in March 2002. For more about the changes that were made to Hubble during the mission, visit the Servicing Mission 3B page.


Important — Printing the Pattern

You may need to adust your printer options in order to print the pattern sheet at the correct size. Look at the bottom of each page for the gauge that allows you to check the printout’s scale. (You will need a ruler.) If it doesn’t measure up, make the following adjustments in the Print dialog box:

  • If you’re using Adobe Reader 6 or higher, set "Page Scaling" to "None."
  • If you’re using Acrobat 5, deselect "Shrink Oversized Pages to Paper Size" and "Expand Small Pages to Paper."
  • If you’re using Acrobat 4, deselect "Fit to Page."

Print out the directions and the pattern sheets on the right. The pattern sheets must be printed out on card stock or cover-weight paper, but the directions can be printed on regular paper. In addition to these printouts, you will also need supplies from your local craft or hobby shop.

  • 32-lb printer paper.
  • Cardboard (the weight of a cereal box is good)
  • Glues: White or clear craft glue, gluestick (permanent), and superglue
  • Good scissors
  • A sharp craft knife with extra blades
  • A metal straightedge
  • A cutting board or similar surface
  • Optional (but very helpful) materials:
  • Tweezers for handling small pieces
  • A small paintbrush and/or flat-edged toothpicks for applying glue and superglue
  • Thin dowels and/or tapestry needles to help roll up thin tubes
  • Clear spray-on sealant to protect the finished model

See the directions for complete printing instructions and supplies.


This model requires the use of sharp instruments, superglue and potentially dangerous household items. Please exercise caution when making this model. Children attempting this model must be supervised.


Ton Noteboom describes himself as a “space age kid.” Growing up in the Netherlands, he followed the progress of the space program, hearing about Sputnik on the radio, and watching Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the Moon. But what really fascinated him was the technology – the technology that got the astronauts to the Moon, the technology that brought the journey back to people around the world.

“The force of the rockets, the hardware part – that was what interested me,” he said. “It was amazing to see pictures on the television screen, especially in that time, that came all the way from the Moon.”

He got his first cardboard model of a boat when he was 11 years old, as a present from Sinterklaas, the Dutch version of Santa Claus. The model joined his already extensive collection of plastic models, but after a short time that phase gave way to a period of model-train building that he shared with his father. And that was it until the day about five years ago, surfing the Web, that he started finding plans for elaborate paper models online.

Lured by nostalgia, and with both training in silversmithing and job experience in construction engineering under his belt, Noteboom thought he’d give the paper models another shot. “I said, ‘Well, let’s try it,’ and it stuck,” he said. When he couldn’t find a model of the Saturn V rocket, he decided to design his own. “I didn’t start with an easy one,” he noted wryly. “You just put your teeth together and go. It took a lot of patience, paper , ink and time. It’s fascinating to see a model taking shape.”

His love of technology and engineering is evident in both the level of detail and the painstaking attention to structure and precise construction in the 35 paper models Noteboom has designed and shared online with the world. One of the greatest compliments he’s received, he says, is from a model builder that praised the way everything about his models “fit together.”

The allure lies in constructing something three-dimensional out of a flat piece of paper, Noteboom said. “It’s intriguing to make something very sturdy out of something that isn’t. I treat the piece of paper as a piece of metal, though metal is easier because you can shape it into intricate forms. With paper you can’t.”

In addition to designing paper models, Noteboom is a licensed radio amateur hobbyist specializing in television transmissions. He lives in the small village of Rozenburg, near Rotterdam, with three cats, and handles facility operations at a local school.

 More of Ton’s models can be found at http://jleslie48.com/.