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Home / Science / Lego designer reveals hidden details in new space shuttle discovery device

Lego designer reveals hidden details in new space shuttle discovery device

April 1, 2021

—No one at Lego told Milan Madge to start making detailed models of the space shuttle.

The toy company decided to produce the new NASA space shuttle discovery device-before it was sold on LEGO Stores and LEGO.com on Thursday (April 1), Madge and some of his LEGO designers began to have doubts about this idea. Used for large toy brick version of winged orbiter.

“In the beginning we were just arguing and talking about how cool a Lego space shuttle of this size was, and then people said,’Oh, what if we use this element for the engine? What if we use this element for the engine What? The cockpit? And all these things are put together until someone builds a conceptual model.”

; Madge told collectSPACE in an interview.

To be sure, there is a lot of work to be done between the initial idea and the final product. One of Madge’s first challenges was how to build a mechanism to deploy the landing gear of the space shuttle without affecting the size of the payload bay, which needs to be maintained with the Hubble Space Telescope that comes with the device model. This is just one of many details contained in a model that is nearly 2 feet long (0.5 m).

But this is not the task that Madge and his colleagues were assigned to do. This is the project they hope to complete correctly.

He said: “From the very beginning, people were enthusiastic about it and willing to take the space shuttle.”

collectSPACE talked to Madge about creating the new LEGO NASA space shuttle discovery device, his favorite parts, and any hidden details that space shuttle fans should pay attention to when making 2,354 models. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

collectSPACE (cS): So you entered this project as a space shuttle enthusiast, but given the level of detail you can include, what specific references would you refer to when designing Discovery?

Milan Mackie: Actually a few. The most obvious is the archive on the NASA website, which is full of stunning images. Therefore, we just download images of specific missions and space shuttles to help inform our design.

But then, we also worked closely with NASA and some of its technical advisors. So we can ask really specific questions, and they can provide really specific feedback, such as which logos were used in certain tasks and whether NASA should be used [logotype] Something like “worms” or “meatballs”.There are also technical details, such as the content on the STS-31 [the Hubble Space Telescope deploy mission] Compared with other tasks. Through the Hubble Telescope, the payload bay has a certain configuration that can be installed in the telescope.

There are also many very interesting technical manuals on the Internet, which can be used to find the cross section of the space shuttle, the outline of the wing and the like.

CS: As we all know, this is not the first time Lego has released a space shuttle. After the orbiter, more than a dozen collections modeled at different scales and levels of detail have been established. Have you looked back at any of them for inspiration, or have you borrowed the construction technology of the New Discovery space shuttle?

crazy: It’s not special, because among us, we said without seeing anything: “Let’s do that.” But, having said that, several of us participated in this project and released it with Lego in 2003 The Discovery Shuttle grew up together. I don’t have it, but I remember seeing it in the catalog.

Therefore, I think there is some kind of subconscious inspiration there. When we had to perform a mission, we jumped directly into STS-31, because it is the knowledge we have learned about the space shuttle since we were young.

CS: This is the largest space shuttle released by Lego. Why choose 1/70 scale? What is that specific size?

crazy: It is the Hubble Space Telescope and the STS-31 mission that really inspires this ratio, because usually, when we fly the space shuttle, the payload bay is a little bit. I don’t want to say an afterthought, but this is due to the use of Lego blocks Limitations, usually the size is smaller than the actual size.

Being able to reach this scale means that we can make the space shuttle’s walls thin enough so that we can keep the Hubble telescope in orbit precisely.

We can also get a lot of fun that we usually overlook, with few details. I think the LEGO Ideas Saturn V rocket that we released a few years ago really set the standard for the level of detail we can achieve in space installations, and we hope to continue using this space shuttle. Therefore, by expanding the scale, we can include Canadam. [robotic arm] As well as the camera and the crew cabin.

We usually do not include this level of detail in the LEGO model. But by adding these details and being able to explain some of them through construction instructions, we can really make people take a longer journey. Hopefully, when people build it, they will learn something about the space shuttle, which may not be available in smaller-scale models.

CS: Once the ratio is determined, should the external tanks and solid rocket boosters used to launch the orbiter be considered?

crazy: Yes, I did make tanks and SRBs. I did it all, it’s huge. Therefore, we decided that if we want to reach this scale, that is what we want to do, then we need to truly include the story in the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope without being too crazy.

CS: Similarly, at 1/70, the space shuttle is too small to reach the scale of the Lego mini-model, but not small enough to reach the scale of micro-digital figures. This is a model for adult Lego fans, but have you considered including minifigures?

crazy: We know that people really like minifigure as the brand’s logo, and we discussed the cost of expanding it to the scale that we can realistically adapt to minigures. But we came to the conclusion that… what we want is the scale we want, and then keep it as accurate as possible. Therefore, we did not shrink to a miniature size, but if we enter any numbers, we will lose the storytelling in the cabin.

We really like that we can get the middle deck and cockpit and many small details that people might see from the cabin of a real space shuttle. So I think this is why we chose to focus on being as detailed as possible without distracting them.

CS: For all the details you want in the final model, what is the biggest challenge from a design point of view?

crazy: It’s definitely the landing gear. We tried to use worm gear and ratchet wheel and spring configuration to make different versions of the load work to make the landing gear work properly. For me, the real biggest challenge is that we want the payload bay to be completely empty so that we can fit the telescope, and adding another board on either side of the telescope is not enough for the landing gear to work properly. Therefore, we must work very hard to couple functions to both sides of the payload bay.

Essentially, we have a huge hollow area in the middle of the model. Then our nose is very heavy, and our tail is also very heavy. We had to somehow make the internal structure of the payload bay sturdy, while also having the function of embracing the front landing gear and the actual landing gear. From a technical point of view, this is really difficult.

The Lego model uses robots to conduct a lot of tests internally, so that the function runs more patiently than the test subjects. Therefore, we have performed many iterations to find the most suitable landing gear configuration to work while keeping the model solid and keeping space, so that we don’t have to reduce the size of the Hubble Space Telescope.

CS: This model contains many important details, such as the working landing gear. However, due to the limitations of the size or the medium you are using (Lego bricks), do you want to include but not?

crazy: This may not be the most exciting answer, but what the team really pushed to join was the toilet in the crew cabin. That’s what people really want. It’s a bit like a joke, but every time we make a Lego toy with a toilet, this is the funniest part for kids. Therefore, we do want to include it, but such a large scale is not feasible.

I would love to see if anyone can modify the space shuttle to fit it into the model. I would love to see it, because that is one thing we lack.

CS: What is your favorite detail of the finished model?

crazy: This can be traced back to what we call minifigures. For me, the cabin seat is my favorite detail.

The size of the vehicle and the powerful functions of these rockets and shuttles can easily be taken away. But the reason why I am interested in space, space and universe, I am sure that the reason many people do this is because of its humanity. If it were not for human factors, none of these things would happen. Therefore, for me, the emotional connection between the small blue seat in the flight attendant cabin and the space shuttle is closer. This is what I am most excited about, that is, the idea of ​​five people leaving the earth.

When the Hubble Space Telescope was established, it was clearly told that we have such a wealth of knowledge about the universe that everything that happens is due to humans and everything that happens to humans happens to humans. Therefore, for me, those seats in the cabin are undoubtedly the most important part of the model.

I really hope this will also inspire the next generation of astronauts. When I looked at the Discovery mode in 2003 when I was a kid, it really inspired me to become a Lego designer. Hope that looking at this model will inspire children to enter STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics]Entering the field of science, you may even become an astronaut, or even the first person to land on Mars. hope so.

CS: The last question: What about Easter eggs? An early review of the NASA space shuttle found model believes that you must be a fan of olive green, because most of the internal structure of the orbiter is made of olive green Lego blocks. But is this a hidden detail?

crazy: You are absolutely correct, I think you may be the only person in the world who does this. The internal color of the model is olive green because the internal structure of the space shuttle is green.

CS: So there are other similar details, can technically be used as Easter eggs?

crazy: The only thing I can say is the Easter Egg, which is the part of the Hubble Telescope that you have to remove when you install the Hubble Telescope in the bay. It is part of the circuit they use for some maintenance tasks. We not only install the telescope anywhere. In fact, we included a small shadow that can be removed, which is a neat little detail.

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