In February 2018, an impressive test launch of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket was conducted with Elon Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster as the payload. For SHIPtember each year, LEGO builders challenge each other to build a LEGO spaceship (in which “SHIP” means “Significantly Huge Investment in Parts”) at least one hundred studs long. Adrian Drake took up the challenge to construct an impressive LEGO model of Musk’s roadster and its dummy pilot “Starman.” Whether it counts as a spacecraft for SHIPtember is debatable (we believe it does count!), but it hits the 100-stud-long mark (about 31.5 inches) and is shaped and sculpted rather well at this scale.
The fully detailed cabin interior is worth a closer look.
See more photos of Adrian’s Tesla Roadster and Starman on Flickr.
Space and space exploration is also a very popular subject when it comes to LEGO creations. Valerie Roche and Matthew Nolan have designed a collection of SpaceX vehicles and put it on LEGO’s crowd-sourcing platform Ideas, where it’s already well on its way towards the needed 10,000 supporters. One of the coolest things about this project is that the designers have received input from people working on the real SpaceX program to help make the models even more accurate.
Check out the full collection of vehicles
Whenever a new element is released by LEGO, it quickly starts to show up in custom LEGO creations. This wonderfully detailed microscale model of the SpaceX Falcon booster landing on a mobile platform by Curt Quarquesso is a great example. Curt used two new transparent orange flame-colored parts (aka power burst bolts) for the rocket thrust and its contact with the platform. These pieces have only appeared in two sets so far: 76097: Lex Luthor Mech Takedown, and 76108: Sanctum Sanctorum Showdown.
Space is dangerous. Getting there maybe even more so, what with riding a controlled explosion to overcome gravity and all. In the United States, the majority of the space flight innovations came from NASA with a significant amount of help early on from the Air Force and German aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun.
Max Schellenberg gives us an intro to modern space travel with this brilliant microscale version of a Falcon 9 landing in the Atlantic Ocean. This is adorable and I love it.
Now, there are a number of private companies developing new technology: Boeing and Lockheed Martin regularly launch the Delta IV rockets under United Launch Alliance; Boeing is developing their CST-100 crew capsule. Sierra Nevada has their Dreamchaser. Jeff Bezos has Blue Origin, for tourist space flight, launching out of Texas.
And Elon Musk has SpaceX.
Off all of these, I get the most giddy about SpaceX. Because the first foray into reusable equipment with the Shuttle program still required going and fishing the boosters out of the Atlantic, along with the orbiter returning safely to earth. SpaceX has developed their Falcon 9, capable of launching a payload into space, and having the booster return to a fixed point. Namely, their “autonomous spaceport drone ships,” the Just Read the Instructions and Of Course I Still Love You. They’ve recently leased one of the former launch complexes on Cape Canaveral Air Force Base and converted into a landing facility as well.
That is amazing.