Thirty nine years and forty nine weeks ago, a little bit after tea time, we witnessed the launch of the first Space Shuttle, Columbia. The era of ‘shirt sleeve space flight’ and reusable orbiters had begun. Ten years and 10 days later, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the space shuttle Discovery. Finally, on April 12 2011, thirty years after the launch of Columbia, the Shuttle Atlantis flew the final Mission.
The program caught the imagination of 12 year old me, culminating in many doodles, dreams, and the occaisional MOC. If only I could find the picture.
So, this month, we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the first Shuttle launch; the 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope deployment; and the 10th anniversary of the final flight of Atlantis.
And the LEGO Group have released a huge new version of the Space Shuttle Discovery – over 55 cm long, it comes with moving rudder and elevons; opening pod bay doors and carries the Hubble space telescope. With 2354 pieces, it is quite a step up on the 7470 from 2003.
And there have been dozens of versions of the shuttle from across the years, and you might also consider that the early LEGOLAND® Spacecraft in the late 70’swere also inspired by it: The Shuttle program was already in the public consciousness, with atmospheric tests occurring with the Shuttle Enterprise for 4 years before the first lauch of Columbia in 1981.
Here are a few examples that have appeared in town, Technic, and indeed the Creator Expert line. I have chosen to ignore the ‘Bat Space Shuttle’ from 2016.
And so, today we come to the launch of the latest 18+/ Creator Expert vehicle set: the LEGO® NASA Space Shuttle Discovery. With 2354 pieces, this set features the Discovery orbiter and the Hubble Telescope. The orbiter features functional landing gear, payload bay doors, elevons and rudder; while the Hubble telescope can be folded to fit inside the payload bay, or unfolded and depoyed. The model is 55 cm long, 21.78 cm high and features a wingspan of 34.6cm. Coming with display plaques for both the Orbiter and Telescope, the set will retails for €177.99/£169.99 $USD199.99/$AUD299.99/ $NZD319.99
Interview with Dr Kathy Sullivan
To celebrate the launch of the new LEGO® NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, the LEGO Group spoke exclusively to Former NASA Astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan to reveal details of her experience onboard the original NASA STS-31 mission and how the real-life space shuttle compares to the LEGO model’s detailed reimagination of the spacecraft and famous Hubble Space Telescope.
Filmed at COSI (Center of Science and Industry), the fascinating interview, which is now available on lego.com/gobeyond, Dr. Kathy Sullivan reveals details about the incredible mission, which launched the Hubble Space Telescope into the cosmos – enabling NASA, and scientists around the world, to explore more of the universe than ever before. The interview also delved into Dr. Sullivan’s thoughts on encouraging more young people into STEM careers and the future of space exploration.
The new LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery, which was developed in collaboration with NASA, is a complex 2,354 piece build that pays homage to this pioneering moment in space history and marks the 40th anniversary since the first Space Shuttle flight on 12th of April 1981. The set, aimed at adults, features the Discovery orbiter with functional landing gear, payload bay doors, elevons and rudder; and the famous Hubble Space Telescope, which can either be folded and contained within the payload bay or expanded with solar array and displayed separately. Both also come with a display plaque which features key data from the mission.
Commenting on the set, Dr. Kathy Sullivan said, “I was thrilled to see the space shuttle in LEGO form, and was very impressed by the amount of intricate detail they have managed to recreate from the module where we used to sleep and eat through to what we called the “milk stalls” on the telescope. Looking at the model, it was great to reminisce about my experiences in space launching the telescope for the first time. Hubble is definitely the highlight of my career.”
This LEGO model is a great way for LEGO builders and space fans alike to get excited about space travel and learn more about the famous mission in a fun and engaging way.”
Just over 30 years on from the original mission, The LEGO Group wanted to delve deeper into people’s passions for space to really uncover what they think of the great beyond. Including, what the next 30 years could hold, the future of space travel and if there really is life on mars.
Key findings include:
- 72% of people label Space exploration as being “essential”
- Finding out more about the universe and making scientific discoveries listed as the number one reason people believe we should travel to Space, with understanding more about Earth taking second spot
- 24% of people believe that we will find new planets and 13% think we will find alien life in the next 30 years
- 71% of people believe there is life on other planets
- Over half (52%) think there will be space tourism in the next 30 years. With 32% thinking it will involve very expensive and exclusive journeys into the atmosphere
- 68% would travel to space if invited
Dr. Kathy Sullivan gave her expert view on the future of space exploration to LEGO, including: “the biggest barriers to space tourism in the next 30 years is the safety and costs elements, if we can break through these the general public really could take a trip to space in the future.”
As part of the wider LEGO Go beyond campaign, that kicks off with this product launch, space and LEGO fans alike can head to lego.com/gobeyond to watch the interview and find out more about the original mission, discover more about the LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery set and access some great online space learning tools from LEGO Education.
In addition, LEGO VIPs can watch a full-length interview with former NASA Astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan where she discusses more details from the original mission, plus what travelling to space is really like.
Product Press Release
Launching today, the incredible new LEGO® NASA Space Shuttle Discovery set brings the wonder of space exploration back home! Ideal for adult builders, the new set is a detailed recreation of the STS-31 mission launched in April 1990 and saw the orbiter Discovery and its five crew members deploy the Hubble Space Telescope into the cosmos. Ever since, Hubble has shared wondrous images of deep space, leading to breakthroughs in astrophysics and space exploration.
The LEGO NASA Space Shuttle Discovery is made up of 2,354 pieces and is amazingly detailed in true reflection of its full-size counterpart, complete with functional landing gear, and payload bay doors that open one after the other. The doors also feature reflective stickers to mimic the cooling radiators found on the real shuttle orbiter.
At the rear of Discovery is housed the three main engines used for launch into orbit. These are flanked on either side of the tail by smaller engines designed for in-orbit manoeuvres and for deorbit and re-entry into the atmosphere at the end of the mission. The flight control surfaces on the back edge of the wings and tail then are used to control roll, pitch and yaw as an airplane does. The tail’s rudder serves as a speed brake to assist in landing control and rollout on the runway after touchdown.
It’s not only the Space Shuttle’s exterior that is incredibly accurate, the interior from the upper flight deck down and through the mid-deck and out to the payload bay are sure to please both builders and space enthusiasts alike. The crew cabin features the five seats in their correct placement for the astronauts on the STS-31 mission, complete with flight and robotic arm (Remote Manipulator System, or RMS), control panels. Meanwhile the mid-deck contains the space shuttle’s storage lockers for necessities and mission equipment, space for the fifth crew member and the air lock to the payload bay.
The payload bay itself contains the Ku-band antenna for communications, cameras for the crew to monitor operations within the bay, and the RMS arm ready to grapple and release Hubble to carry out its mission.
The same attention to detail has been applied to the Hubble Space Telescope, with its hinged mirror housing just like the actual telescope and new gold foil solar arrays as well as a realistic, reflective, metallic silver design. The telescope can be stowed in the payload bay ready to be connected to the RMS arm for deploy just as it was on mission STS-31. Alternatively, it can be displayed separately from Discovery, as if orbiting in space on its all-important mission, documenting the stars and our universe.
Milan Madge, LEGO Set Designer commented “The Space Shuttle is the most complex vehicle ever made, so as you can imagine, translating this into LEGO was an exciting challenge. In the real vehicle every inch of space is used in ingenious ways. Generally, in a LEGO model we can rely on the size to accommodate the structure that holds the whole set together, but on the Discovery Space Shuttle we needed to create a smooth exterior and an interior capable of holding the payload. Add functional landing gear and you have a real puzzle. This was without a doubt the most challenging part of this model – trying to couple the front and main landing gear without removing any space from the payload bay and without compromising the structure of the model. My favorite part of the set is the tiny blue seats that carried 5 human beings away from their home planet on a mission that allowed us to discover parts of the universe never seen before!”
Once complete the set also comes with stands and information plaques, allowing you to display your creation with pride.
In addition, VIPs will be able to purchase an exclusive item with their points; a Ulysses Space Probe, available for 1,800 VIP Points, which the Space Shuttle Discovery also deployed in 1990 on a mission to scan the Sun. Limited stocks available.
Without a doubt, this is the largest, most detailed LEGO Space Shuttle to date! There are so many great aspects to its design, as well as the level of detail presented ( I love the new windscreen print). What do you think? Why dont you leave your comments below and until next time…