Review: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon Flying Model Rocket Kit

SpaceX has released a flying model rocket kit of its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft. While the kit, as seen in this composite image, matches well with its real-life counterpart – it does have a few minor issues that should be noted before purchase. Photo Credit: (launch image – Jeff Seibert / model image – Jason Rhian)

As NASA and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) prepare to launch the first Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft under the space agency’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract AmericaSpace decided to take a peek at a recent offering from the company that has ignited the passion of commercial space flight fans. In this case a model of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft.

Photo Credit: Jason Rhian

Like the popular Estes brand of rocket models this kit is a somewhat reasonable facsimile of the actual thing. It is obvious that some thought went into the making of this kit. Not everyone might be interested in an actual model to fly; some may want something just for display. As such, the plastic segment that represents the shroud around the rocket’s business end has slots where the fins that help direct the rocket in flight. SpaceX has made them clear and removable.

The kit is not without its issues however – ones which make it unsuitable for kids. The body of the Falcon 9 is basically a cardboard tube. To decorate it to resemble the F9 you use a large decal that must be carefully aligned and placed on the tube – this is no easy task.

Decal issues rear there head again in terms of the Dragon spacecraft that caps the model. Placing the decal on should be done slowly with strict attention paid to alignment.

Both of these decals will, more-likely-than-not, develop wrinkles. For the F9, these can be worked out using one’s fingernails. This is not easily done with the Dragon spacecraft.

The kit comes with all the components needed to allow the rocket to be launched and returned safely. This includes a parachute that is emblazoned with the Falcon 9 logo, a very nice touch.

Most space buffs love to have replicas of their favorite rockets hanging around as a symbol of their passion. For “shuttle-huggers” getting models and replicas has been a cinch. For fans of United Launch Alliance, SpaceX and ATK launch vehicles – the pickings have been somewhat slim. SpaceX has somewhat addressed this oversight with this working rocket model. Overall, the kit is a nice first step and is worth your hard-earned coin. With luck, SpaceX will reach out to professional replica manufacturers to have different versions of their iconic vehicles produced.

This kit is a lot of fun and even has a bit of the youthful attitude that has made SpaceX such a hit – is represented on the back of the model’s box:

*Model in this box will not reach the speeds of the magnitude described above. It will however return to you in much less time.

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  1. The Space X Falcon 9 dragon model rocket kit has been reissued with the change to the body tube wrap. It is now preprinted.
    But, there are many issues with this kit, I will not go into all of them.
    Having been in the hobby for 48 years and designed six rocket kits for a major model rocket manufactuere, I think I know what I am speaking about.
    I had sent my input about making changes to Space X, but, unfortunatley most all of them were not incorporated, unfortunately.
    Having the capsule come down on its own parachute is not good, you will lose it. The way the recovery system is attatched to the main body tube is another issue.
    The decals for the capsule need to be changed to preprinted.
    The attatchment of the fins should be addressed, using rubber bands to hold the fins on just isn’t the way to go.
    And, using this a “display” model, there should be a nozzle attatchment so that it looks REAL , this nozzle assembly would be removable for launch.

    I also notice that the price has gone up as well.

  2. Jason, have you had the opportunity to check out the Vostok 1 plastic non-flying 1:24 scale model kit by Revell (kit # 00024)). I value your opinion, and would like your take on the kit. I know AmericaSpace Historian-in-Residence Ben Evans would love it! The kit is made in Germany, and you can’t beat that German engineering. Best wishes

    • Hi Karol,

      I’ve built a few non-flying Soviet and Russian kits – but not that one. If I see one I will take your advice and pick it up.

      Sincerely, Jason Rhian

  3. Jason, with all of the great publicity about our Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory, have you heard anything about a plastic model kit. I’m sure it would be very popular. Certainly they should be eager to give a free kit to a reviewer for AmericaSpace, and Editor-in-Chief. If it sells well, maybe they would also consider bringing out a lunar rover (yeah, I know, I’m getting carried away with myself). The “Space Voyagers” series had a very nicely done pre-assembled lunar rover, but apparently the manufacturer went out of business. Best wishes, and please keep up the great work, on all fronts.

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