Photo courtesy of LEGO
March 22nd 2021
This morning the Danish toy company LEGO announced their newest set coming April 1st 2021 would be Space Shuttle Discovery complete with the Hubble Telescope. This announcement comes as a happy celebration for me as I grew up in the days of playing with LEGO and watching the Shuttles launch from my backyard. This set will include both the orbiter Discovery along with the Hubble Telescope and has functional landing gear, payload bay doors, elevons and rudder. We are told we can even fold up the Hubble Telescope and keep in in the payload bay. What doesn’t appear to be included are any of the LEGO mini figures we all know and love.
Rumors had been circulating online that LEGO would be coming out with a set of the orbiter Columbia which was of course the first shuttle to launch back in 1981 with astronauts John Young, and Robert Crippen on board. Columbia met its tragic end in 2003 when it disintegrated on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, killing all seven crew on board. It seems a good move by the company to steer clear of the disaster even if it makes tying in a special anniversary to the set.
STS-31 was the country’s thirty-fifth mission of the Shuttle program and deployed the Hubble Telescope into Earth’s orbit back in 1990 from the space coast of Florida. “The Space Shuttle is the most complex vehicle ever made, so as you can imagine, translating this into LEGO was an exciting challenge,” said the set’s designer, Milan Madge. “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.” It would seem by the pictures we’ve seen that the company’s designers were able to do a fantastic job of bringing it all together as realistic as possible.
NASA and LEGO have been working together all the way back to the year 1990 with the advent of the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition. Recently the two companies have come together in partnership on official LEGO sets which include 21309 NASA Apollo Saturn V, the 10266 NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander and an entire collection of LEGO CITY products. The toy company is now working with former astronaut Dr. Kathy Sullivan to launch this new set. Dr. Sullivan was a member of the team which deployed the Hubble Telescope over thirty years ago. Wondering how much this set will cost? LEGO says the set will be 199.99 USD and be available from the company’s website and at their retail locations.