I made my shuttle cake fleet during Atlantis' final mission back in July last year, and took one to the press site on landing day. When I posted a photo of the cakes on Facebook, it got more 'likes' than the real shuttle!
Being the scientific type I thought it would be useful to document the stages of my cake making for future reference. I have seen far better attempts elsewhere online (and in fact my mum made me a superb shuttle cake for my 21st birthday, I must find the photos...) but here's how I made mine.
Surprisingly, this gave me enough sponge to make two modest-sized cakes! If I did it again I'd probably make just one, thicker cake.
Cut out the basic body outline of the orbiter as shown, and from the cuttings you can create another layer along the centre of the body, sticking the components together with jam. I sliced at an angle towards the nose to give the cockpit, and rounded off the nose, too. A nearly right-angled triangular-shaped cutting can be used to make the tail fin, again stuck on with jam, and supported with extra icing.
For the finishing touches (photo missing) I also printed out a NASA logo and the Stars and Stripes for the wings (edible paper would have been better!), and added candles for the rocket boosters. The cakes are sat on foil-covered bread boards, which can easily be wiped off if the paint job gets messy.
Judging by the crumbs that I collected at the end of the day, it passed the taste test too!