A designer reveals hidden details in Lego’s fresh Space Shuttle Discovery set
Lego, the multinational toy company, launched a new kit to celebrate the 1990 NASA mission aided by the Discovery shuttle. The kit is composed of 2354 pieces and has been named the STS-31 Space Discovery set. According to Milan Madge, a Lego designer, the space shuttle has hidden details that require scrutiny to discover and understand. The Discovery set will be put up for sale at Lego stores and the official Lego website from April 1st, 2021.
Madge revealed that the idea of building this set started as a workplace joke among the staff at Lego. “It started more as us sparring and talking about how cool a Lego space shuttle in that scale would be, and then it was people saying, oh, what if we used that element for the engines? What if we used this element for the cockpit? And all those things came together until someone built a concept model,” said Madge.
What started as a mere what-if turned to be a passion project brought to life by Lego’s team. “From the very start point, it was just people being passionate for it and having fun making a space shuttle,” added Madge. The Discovery set includes a model of the Hubble Space Telescope launched into orbit in 1999. The set, retailing at $200, was developed with close reference to the archives on NASA’s website. The designers also brought NASA’s technical advisors on board for this project to bear fruits.
This kit is one of the largest pieces that Lego has designed and is a 1/70th scale shuttle. The Hubble Space Telescope was the central point of reference when developing this shuttle. The STS-31 payload was also a big influence on deciding the size of the shuttle.
“The thing that really inspired that scale was the Hubble Space Telescope and the STS-31 mission because normally when we do a space shuttle, the payload bay is often smaller than it should be because of the constraints of working with Lego bricks,” explained Madge.
The Discovery shuttle has a lot of details that were not included in previous toys. For instance, it has working landing gear, the mid-deck, and the flight deck. The shuttles inside colors are olive-green to reflect the actual NASA shuttle internal structure that was green too.
Another hidden detail that would take a space enthusiast time to uncover is the Hubble part that is removed to mount the telescope. “The part of the Hubble that you have to remove to mount the telescope in the bay is part of the circuitry that they worked with on some of the servicing missions. We didn’t just mount the telescope anywhere. We included a little hatch that you can remove, which is a neat little detail,” noted Madge.