– Once described as the most complex flying machine ever built, made up of more than 2.5 million moving parts, you can now assemble your own model of NASA’s space shuttle using just 2,354 pieces.
LEGO revealed on Monday (March 22) its new NASA Space Shuttle Discovery set, which not only replicates its full-size counterpart in astonishing detail, but does so as it was set up for one of its most well-known missions and historical: the launch. of the Hubble Space Telescope.
“I always liked that combination of very compact, almost miniature, but very elegantly detailed, and I think that’s exactly what the Hubble model within this set reminded me of,” said astronaut Kathy Sullivan in an interview with collectSPACE.
And she would know. Sullivan flew as a mission specialist on Discovery’s STS-31 mission in 1990, giving him a front row seat for the observatory deployment.
“I didn’t know what to expect in terms of how big the Discovery would be,” Sullivan said of the first time he saw the new LEGO set. “It’s about two feet long. It’s a really impressive size.”
Designed with adult builders in mind, the LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery packs a lot of detail into that two-foot (0.5m) package. The landing gear is deployed, the control surfaces on the wings (elevons) move, and the payload bay doors swing open to expose the reflective radiators, Canadarm robotic manipulator, Ku-band antenna, and even cameras. video for the “crew” to monitor activities. outside.
“Translating this into LEGO was an exciting challenge,” Milan Madge, who led set design for the Denmark-based toy company, said in a statement. “In the real vehicle, every inch of space is used in an ingenious way. Usually in a LEGO model we can rely on the size to accommodate the structure that holds the whole thing together, but in the Discovery Space Shuttle we needed to create an exterior. smooth and an interior capable of supporting the payload. “
It is not just the cargo compartment that opens. The crew cabin opens to reveal the flight deck with the orbiter control panels and crew seats. Below that, the middle deck includes the crew equipment lockers and the airlock that leads to the payload bay.
“And from what I know, Bruce [McCandless] and I’m pictured inside that airlock, which is where we were trapped when Hubble was deployed, “Sullivan said with a smile.” So I let the intrepid modeler determine if there are two figures in spacesuits locked inside that airlock like there. they were at Discovery on the day of deployment. “
Sullivan was also surprised to find that the model features not only the vertical stabilizer or tail-mounted speed brake, but also the elevators, the control surfaces on the orbiter’s wings.
“A lot of people look at the trailing edge of the shuttle wing and think of it as the traditional elevator as seen in the back of an airplane wing,” he said. “On the space shuttle, it’s a combination of an elevator and an aileron, called an elevon. So I thought, let’s see if the elevons got it right, they operate opposite each other. And they actually got it right.”
“And you don’t have to manipulate the elevons. In a very smart turn, you can turn the center bell of the main engine and that will make the elevons move back and forth,” Sullivan said.
The same attention to detail was paid to the LEGO model of the Hubble Space Telescope, which can be placed in Discovery’s payload bay or displayed on its own included stand.
“Although this is a bit anachronistic [detail], they have the aft end grip attachment that was put in by the final service team, “said Sullivan, whose book” Handprints on Hubble “details the history of the space telescope, as well as its own history. You can also see that they have pictured the lens if you look in the front. It’s really cool. “
Produced to celebrate the upcoming 40th anniversary of the first space shuttle mission, the LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery set will retail for $ 199.99 when it goes on sale April 1 in LEGO stores and on LEGO.com.
Complementing the set, members of the LEGO VIP loyalty program will also be able to redeem 1,800 points to receive a LEGO model kit based on another of Discovery’s payloads: the Ulysses space probe. Also deployed in 1990, Ulysses’ primary mission was to study the Sun.
Additionally, starting April 18, LEGO stores across the country will display real images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope that have been translated into the LEGO format.