On Dec. 5, 2014, at 7:05 a.m. EST, NASA launched the new crew capsule, Orion, for it’s first experimental flight test on a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rocket. The mission was to send Orion 3,600 miles into orbit (for reference, the ISS hangs out at around between 205-270 miles above the Earth) and return to test the new heat shield. Orion went further than any space craft designed for human flight since the Apollo 17 mission. The test flight when perfectly.
Why is this awesome? It’s NASA’s next giant leap. The Orion crew capsule is going to take us back to the moon, to asteroids, and to Mars.
Wesley, your Delta IV Heavy is fantastic and instantly recognizable and an excellent tribute to the historic launch.
I admit. I couldn’t decide which of the two I wanted to blog, so I went with both. Ryan (eldeeem) posted two amazing space creations recently, and they demand to be seen.
Let’s to with science fiction first. Ryan posted the latest addition to the Starfighter Telephone game with his contribution, the Nata V.II:
I just can’t say no to those curves and colors.
For science fact, Ryan’s posted this stunning commission for the University of Colorado Boulder. According to the description, this will be on display mid-September. The build features the Apollo 11 service module, nicknamed Columbia. This module, commanded by Neil Armstrong, brought he and fellow crewmates Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin to the moon 45 years ago this past July.
So. Here’s the question: Science Fact or Science Fiction? Which is your favorite?
Popular culture is filled with many iconic fictional spacecraft, but relatively few factual ones. But to anyone old enough to remember Carl Sagan’s TV series Cosmos, or young enough to have enjoyed its more recent incarnation, the image below will stir up many fond memories!
It is of course a NASA Voyager probe, faithfully recreated in LEGO by Ryan H (eldeem)…
Launched in the 1970’s, NASA’s Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 spacecraft were actually the first to explore the outer solar system, and the first to carry a message for any aliens that might encounter them. But the later Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes gained much more notoriety, with their more ambitious missions and superior imaging capabilities. Even the “message from Earth” got an upgrade, from a simple plaque, to a recording containing images and sounds from Earth (which you can even see in Ryan’s model above).
Lasting more than a decade, the Voyager missions were much longer than anything the public were used to at that time. Every few years one of the spacecraft would reach its next target, and the world would be caught up in Voyager fever all over again, as amazing images of far-off worlds flooded our screens. Still transmitting to this day, the Voyager probes are among the most distant man-made objects in existence, and are now at the very edge of the solar system, headed for interstellar space.
Ryan’s Voyager is a commission for the University of Colorado, and will be on display at the CU Heritage Center from mid-September. Go check it out!
Tomorrow is the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. I hope we see many moon-themed LEGO models over the next couple of days, but we’ll start with this fantastic microscale version of the lander by Ted Andes.
Ted has been building one vignette a week this year, and this is his 31st. Check out his photostream for the rest.
On January 1, LEGO released the newest in the CUUSOO line, the Mars Curiosity Rover. Set designer Stephen Pakbaz submitted his design to CUUSOO, and in due time the project reached it’s 10k votes. The set was revealed at BrickWorld 2013.
We’ve previously interviewed Stephan about his work on the LEGO model–and the real Mars Curiosity Rover, currently broadening our horizons on Mars.
This fantastic video, from Your Creative Friends reviews the new set with Stephen’s walk through, explaining the instruments and their purpose while comparing the final set design to his original design. I highly encourage you to check it out!
LEGO CUUSOO 21104 Mars Curiosity Rover
is currently back-ordered, but only available from the LEGO Shop online. Click through the link to order it for yourself!
Apparently, there are some Lego CUUSOO fans in the chalk art world. Check out this amazing rendition of the Curiosity Rover (recently announced to be an upcoming CUUSOO set) on the sidewalk. Thanks to Stephen Pakbaz for the heads up!
I’ve made no secret of the fact that Shannon Sproule at his best is one of my favourite builders. And in his Mars Mission Recovery Drone he is definitely at his best. This LEGO model shows off Shannon’s mastery of beautiful and original designs constructed from primary shapes and blocky colours.
I distinctly remember hearing about the Space Shuttle Challenger exploding in 1986. I was having dinner with my parents and sister, eating grapefruit for dessert, when the news came on the radio. It was a highly publicised flight, even before lift-off, because Christa McAuliffe was on board, as part of the teacher in space project. Before her flight, the Shuttle was the exclusive domain of scientists, engineers and test pilots. The explosion came as a shock, not just in the United States, but also for a then ten-year old boy from the Netherlands, sitting next to the radio. I also have distinct memories of the Columbia disaster in 2003. I had recently moved to a new apartment and had organised a house-warming party for that evening, with my friends (mostly fellow physicists). That evening we could talk about little else.
Both events highlighted problems with NASA’s approach to safety and showed that the Shuttle itself was a deeply flawed concept. Yet, last year’s pictures of NASA’s Boeing 747SCA flying the Shuttles around the US to their resting places at museums, fill me with sadness. Rather than making giant leaps, it feels as though we are slowly crawling backwards. American and European Astronauts are now resigned to flying in the cramped confines of Russian Soyuz capsules, that really aren’t all that different from the capsule that carried Yuri Gagarin into orbit more than 50 years ago.
There is a glimmer of progress though, in the form of the Dragon. Stephen Pakbaz (Apojove) has built a very nice model of this spacecraft, doing a good job of representing the round shape with its conic end.
Last week I attended a lecture by André Kuipers, a Dutch astronaut who was on board the International Space Station from December 2011 to July 2012. A Dragon docked with the station during this time, and Kuipers described the new-car smell that greeted the crew when they opened the hatch. It’s not as sexy as the Space Shuttle, but the significance of the Dragon is that it is the first commercially developed space craft intended for manned missions in orbit. Previously this was exclusively done by governments. So far the Dragon has only been used as an unmanned supply vehicle, but it has been developed with manned missions in mind and plans are afoot for a first crewed flight in 2015. It’s a small step, but hopefully, in the non-too-distant future, commercial companies will be cheaply doing the nitty-gritty of lifting stuff and people to orbit, allowing NASA to do the more exciting stuff further out there.
Dave Shaddix just finished this mosaic in honor of Buzz Aldrin’s recenly celebrated 83rd birthday. This is a great rendition of an iconic photograph. For the few who don’t know who or what is in the picture, it is a picture that Neil Armstrong took of Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969. The LEM and Neil Armstrong are reflected in the visor of Buzz Aldrin’s spacesuit. Well done, Dave, I love it!
Looking over their photostream, I think we’ve blogged everything Sean & Steph Mayo have built over the past several months, so why stop now? This is the smallest NASA Space shuttle built from LEGO that I’ve run across, but it may be my favorite.
The LEGO Castle helmet standing in for the top of the External Tank is pure genius.