Get ready for lift-off, space fans, because you will soon be able to recreate one of NASA’s most famous shuttle missions in Lego form.
A new set from the construction company recreates the STS-31 mission on the space shuttle Discovery that launched the hubble space telescope into orbit in April 1990. Members of the Space Shuttle Discovery crew deployed the observatory in what has become a multi-decade exploration of the cosmos.
The Lego Space Shuttle Discovery game (MSRP $ 199.99 USD) will be available directly in Lego stores and on Lego.com starting April 1. Lego VIP members can also purchase a replica of the Ulysses space probe, which orbited and studied the sun and was also deployed using the space shuttle. . There is a limited stock of Ulysses available and it will cost 1,800 VIP points.
Related: The best Lego space sets and deals
What’s inside the Lego Discovery shuttle?
Included in the 2,354-piece set is the Hubble and the space shuttleincluding details like the opening cargo bay doors, functional landing gear, and reflective stickers meant to show off the cooling radiators that the actual space shuttle had. The complete assembly measures approximately 22 cm by 35 cm by 56 cm (8.5 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches) and includes two mounts and plates for both the orbiter and Hubble.
“I’m really impressed by the way Lego has thought about space things,” said STS-31 astronaut. Kathyrn Sullivan, who has an early copy of the set at home, told Space.com. “They clearly recognize, they know in their DNA, fun, creativity, imagination and learning. They provide it in such a rich variety of kits … and I think as you get older, there is a different kind of satisfaction in completing. a set, due to the strong emphasis on what was real. “
The set is geared towards the adult crowd, unlike many other space shuttle sets made for kids over the past decades. Sullivan herself did not use Lego as a child, although she did play erector-type games. She said the challenges of putting things together the right way, even if you make a mistake during construction, apply even during real-life space missions.
“A common adage in the astronaut corps is that plans are nothing, but planning is everything,” he said. “A group of people gets together to do a mission, a lot is planned and a plan is written. But it is well known that life does not always give the circumstances as expected.”
The unexpected happened to the engineers who built Hubble. Shortly after the telescope’s deployment, a glitch was found in the optical system that forced an engineering correction to address the telescope’s myopia. Another shuttle crew, STS-61, visited Hubble in December 1993 to install a corrective optics package, addressing the problem. Including that trip, five shuttle crews visited Hubble through 2010, performing maintenance and upgrades that should keep the telescope running well into the 2020s.
Related: Lego’s International Space Station model is out of this world
NASA’s vision of a Lego designer
Lego set designer Milan Madge grew up watching the space shuttle show from England, and used to play Lego sets in the garden, perpetually dropping bricks on the grass, he told Space.com, to his father’s frustration, who loved making sets. for him. Now based in Denmark, Madge said it was a creative challenge to build a realistic shuttle that would still stick together in Lego format.
“We went up to such a large scale for this model,” Madge said. “We’ve done a lot of space shuttles in the past, about half a dozen, but they tended to be on a fairly small scale to include the solid rocket boosters and the external tank … the reason for going bigger is that we wanted to catch a lot of little ones. details “.
One of the toughest design challenges was the payload bay from which Hubble was stored and deployed during multiple shuttle missions. The payload bay needs to be hollow for maximum realism, but Madge’s design team struggled at first to make sure the front and rear didn’t fall off.
Finally the creative reinforcement of the center section was implemented, mostly to keep the landing gear working as well. “We also had to somehow connect the front landing gear and the rear landing gear, and a landing function, through a hollow cargo bay,” Madge said with a smile.
Madge added that she sees the shuttle as a “new expression of how we do space things,” building on previous recent Lego sets featuring the Moon rocket Saturn V, the International Space Station and the Apollo 11 lunar module at high fidelity. “Going to this scale and targeting this adult market gives you an idea of the greatness and the technical details,” he said of the new space shuttle.
Like most of these previous space ensembles, Space Shuttle One marks a great anniversary; April 12, 2021 will be the 40th anniversary of the launch of STS-1, the manned mission that kicked off the 135 flights of the space shuttle program.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and Facebook.