Lego worked with NASA to improve Apollo 11-themed kits


Since 1949, The Lego Group has specialized in the delighting and enlightening the world with its colorful and versatile construction kits. The Danish company’s vast selection of imaginative sets has sparked an interest in engineering, design, and construction in generations of young people. Recently, the toymaker released a new range of kits with a different purpose in mind; to inspire the next generation of astronauts.

Reconstructing History

As Lego fans know, the company has a yen for producing kits that allow builders to construct real-world and fictional objects and settings. Indeed, the firm has won acclaim for releasing meticulously designed miniature versions of Star Wars’ Millennium Falcon, the Bugatti Chiron, and Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even Iron Man victoriously wielding the Infinity Gauntlet made a recent appearance at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

Lego has also released a range of historically-themed playsets and models. For instance, in 2003, the company released a series of kits in tandem with the Discovery Channel chronicling humanity’s journey into the final frontier. However, though those products were cool, they featured simplistic designs that lacked realism. Earlier this year, the toymaker decided to release a new, highly faithful series of kits celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission.

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Accordingly, Lego’s designers collaborated with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to get the details of their new products right.

One Small Set

When preparing to craft Lego’s commemorative Apollo 11 playset, designer Lars Joe received a wealth of information from NASA. The American space agency provided the toymaker with blueprints that were used to construct the iconic spacecraft as well as a wealth of historical documents and photographs.

Using that reference material, the architect constructed a remarkable facsimile of the Apollo 11 Eagle Lunar Lander. The 1,087 brick, three-piece model strongly evokes the classic look and function of the vehicle that brought humanity to the Moon. Joe gave the set a strong sense of authenticity by including stickers that replicate the spacesuits and controls used by the real Apollo crew.

The designer even created a miniature version of the commemorative plaque that adorned the lunar module.

To Infinity and Beyond

Lego’s 2019 space-themed offerings go beyond honoring the past. As noted by The Verge, the company recently released a host of new kits featuring futuristic space exploration vehicles. Thanks to the firm’s recent work with NASA, its new sets reflect the practical reality of space travel.

For example, Lego’s Deep Space Rocket and Launch Control set features a full flight crew, including scientists, technicians, and a launch director. Similarly, its Mars Research Shuttle kit comes with a vehicle inspired by NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover. The company’s Lunar Space Station even has elements derived from modern-day technology, like a pair of foldable solar panels.

Lego design director Simon Kent told the Verge the firm made its new space-theme offerings less fantastical to make them more like real-life spacecraft. Kent said the company wants its kits to “support the stories that kids hear at school or in the media about space agencies like NASA, the European Space Agency, or SpaceX.”

In preparation for creating Lego’s next set of space exploration-themed products, Kent visited Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center. While there, he noted almost all of the facility’s staff had Lego bricks on their workstations. As such, it’s not hard to imagine the engineers, technicians, and astronauts who bring humanity to Mars keeping Apollo 11 sets on their desks.