Saturn V

1,969 Bricks For Mankind: Lego’s Saturn V Goes To The Moon!

Did I hear someone yell “Spaceship!”? Just in time for the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing, Lego is rolling out a massive set that originated from their fan submission portal, and it’s going to be one giant leap for casual Lego architects.
Saturn V

The set, weighing in at $119.99, has – appropriately enough – 1,969 pieces which add up to an over three-foot-tall faithful model of Werner von Braun’s mighty Saturn V rocket, the giant booster that sent astronauts to the moon.
Saturn V

But this huge Lego rocket isn’t just accurate on the outside.

The rocket can actually “stage” – meaning it comes apart where the real one did when the fuel in one section was completely spent, exposing an “engine” that would send the rest of the rocket on its way. The Saturn V rocket was a three-stage rocket, as is its impressive Lego counterpart.

The third stage “petals” open – again, accurate to the real thing – to expose the lunar module, allowing Lego astronauts in their Apollo command & service module to turn around, dock with the lunar module, and pull it free of the rest of the rocket.

And oh yes, did I mention Lego astronauts? There are Lego astronauts, but they’re tiny compared to the usual minifigures. (A Saturn V scaled to typical Lego minifigures would be…a lot taller than three feet.)

The Lego lunar lander can indeed land, and the command module can separate from the service module for “splashdown”, complete with flotation balloons. Basically, budding mission managers can replicate every phase of an Apollo mission to the moon with this gigantic set.

If you’re anything like me and have a soft spot for the early days of the American space program and its bold strides into the future, you’ll be waiting for this set to hit stores on June 1st. With the number of pieces and the size of the model involved, it’s not for the faint of heart…

…but then, going to the moon never was.

[Via] GigaScience

Someday, My (Space)ship Or Space Shuttle Will Sail

The year: 1981. Pac-Man fever has incurably spread across the country. Both Mork and Mindy are still on the air. There are still pitched Battles of the Network Stars being fought on a yearly basis. The Sony Walkman has been on the market for a little under two years.

Oh, and Space Shuttle Columbia just blasted off for the very first time a couple of days ago, and is going to land very soon.

Now nearly six years since the last Space Shuttle lifted off, it’s almost unimaginable that a TV network would devote 3+ hours of wall-to-wall coverage to a perfectly ordinary Shuttle landing…except that this was the first time that a Shuttle returning from orbit ever came in for a landing. Every American space mission before this sunny April day in 1981 had ended with a splashdown in an ocean. But not this one.
[Via] Golden Pacific Media

It’s a slice of history, like a time machine: the first manned American space flight in six years was a big deal. And while it had taken longer to get the Space Shuttle airborne – on a scale of years – due to technical delays on the bleeding edge of new technologies, it had finally taken to the sky, something that looked more like a space fighter from a movie than it looked like a metal can with windows.

And perhaps most bittersweet of all, it had yet to let anyone down. The promises, made throughout the ‘70s ever since the Nixon administration had signed off on the Shuttle’s basic design, of routine, weekly flights to orbit, of a massive space station built by the 1990s that would be a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system…none of them had been broken yet. The reality of getting Columbia ready for her second flight hadn’t set in yet.

Nobody knew how difficult or costly it would be…or, just a few years later, how dangerous, as NASA tried to fly its fleet of Shuttles more and more frequently.

I remember watching the landing coverage at a friend’s house, the site of a spring break sleepover. He was ready to fire up the Atari, or go outside and kick a ball, and I wasn’t ready to budge. Like other budding space geeks who had grown up in a decade during which American astronauts had simply stopped going to space for years on end, it had all been building up to this – the lovingly illustrated National Geographic issue devoted to telling us what would happen “when the Space Shuttle finally flies”, the fleet of die-cast metal Space Shuttles that circled above the surface of the Earth (in my pockets), the plastic model kits of a non-fictional spacecraft that had never gotten around to flying…
Space Shuttle
(And yes, each one is actually a specific shuttle, in the order that I got them as a kid, and as such is sitting next to its name. The one with the tail cover is the Enterprise.)

For just a moment, the future was bright.

As of March 2017, we are now in a longer gap between spaceflights launched from American soil than the gap between the final Apollo mission (1975’s international Apollo-Soyuz Test Project flight) and the first Shuttle launch. When the next crew of astronauts blasts off from the U.S., whether they’re aboard NASA’s Orion, or SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, or something else, here’s hoping that my kids get that same sense of wonder – even if it’s a similar kind of naïve, momentary wonder – as I got from watching this: a moment where, in the future, anything could happen.

explorer 1 glass

Early US Spaceflight Glass Set

explorer 1 glass

I was very luck growing up in a home with parents who appreciated and celebrated America’s achievements in Space. They saved newspapers and bought trinkets and doodads all of which I loved looking at. One thing that was off limits were the glasses celebrating various NASA programs. I was forbidden to even touch them. This of course made them much more attractive. On the night after a successful rocket launch I would see on TV, I would sneak downstairs and sneak a celebratory glass of milk from an Apollo glass that I really liked, then I would clean it and put it back on the shelf. Why did this memory come flooding back to me? I spotted this set of Early US Spaceflight Glasses on Hake’s this morning.

According to Hake’s:

4″ tall. Four images and text below. Includes “Explorer 1/First U.S. Orbital Flight Jan. 31, 1958; U.S. Animal Test Flight ‘Enos’ Nov. 29, 1961; First U.S. Spaceman Allen B. Shepherd, Jr. May 5, 1961; Longest U.S. Manned Flight L. Gordon Cooper Jr. May 15-16, 1963.” Scarce and Exc.

Early US Spaceflight Glass Set @ Hake’s