In 1978, Lego released the first sets of its space toy series, nearly a decade after the Apollo 11 mission landed on the Moon for the first time. Since then, the company has consistently released sets of spaceships, astronauts, and lunar bases, including detailed sets based on the hardware of real space missions.
The Verge recently spoke to lego designer Simon Kent, who explained this, and his colleagues recently visited NASA engineers and personnel to compare their toys with the real spaceships, rovers, and space stations currently in operation are. "Space is such a big issue across the enterprise that we can use it in many different ways, be it as toys like Lego City or as a display model that takes into account the fine details of spacecraft design," said Apollo 1
"Space is an issue that appeals to children and adults alike," said Kent. "Kids always need space toys to spark this interest." Lego has explored many corners of the universe, from more fantastic sets to aliens, space police, or Mars colonists, to some of the more realistic sets he and his team are responsible for with the company's Lego City sets.
He says they will continue this tradition in 2019, "with an increasingly realistic picture of what space agencies such as NASA are actually planning to release some pretty realistic-looking game sets: There's a deep-space rocket and mission control, a modular space station, space shuttles, a rover, and more. These sets are not exactly what is currently offered by NASA and various private companies. There is a "kind of artistic twist" that we tend to make on these issues, where we do not necessarily want to focus on the past. we want to be relevant and forward-looking. So we're exploring what could be put into space in the next few years. "
The design for the sets began with a timeline of what could come in the next few years and what vehicles there are and build something similar. Kent says they "want to support the stories kids hear at school or in the media about space agencies like NASA, the SpaceX European Space Agency."
Because of this, Kent and his team recently traveled to NASA to be inspired for their latest and upcoming sets, with a view to the facilities and some of the projects they've been working on. "The irony is that the stuff we thought it drove the distant future a little too much when we saw what they were exploring, we were amazed that they already made a lot of it."
Kent noted that the journey brought some cool insights that allowed them to make some of their sets more realistic. One such example is included in the Deep Space Rocket and Launch Control kit: they contained a small vehicle with four independent wheels inspired by an experimental rover, and after learning that white color gave a rocket a lot of weight, they decided to change the color to orange to show that it is unpainted. Another example was the Lunar Space Station model: According to Kent, they have changed the color of the handrails to better reflect what is used on the space station. They also built a variety of characters into the sets and showed how many people are needed to support a space mission, from engineers to administrators to scientists and coaches.
These small differences help to make the sets more educational. By giving the sets a bit of realism, they offer children the opportunity to be interested in science and space. You already know that they did. Kent said when they visited Mission Control at the Johnson Space Center, "almost all had Lego Space stuff on their desks," and many were inspired by the toys they used to play as children. Hopefully, the latest generation of Lego toys will inspire the next generation of rocket scientists and astronauts.