Yesterday, the space shuttle Endeavour launched for the last time, carrying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and the ExPRESS Logistics to the ISS. But more importantly, it carried Lego to space for the first time in history. These are the sets.
The first person to build Lego models in space would be astronaut Cady Coleman, a former United States Air Force officer and current NASA astronaut now living in the International Space Station as part of Expedition 27. If the name Cady Coleman sounds familiar to you is because she’s the astronaut who played the flute in space for the first time last April:
There’s no end to her talents. Astronaut, pilot, music player, Lego builder and the cutest girl in space and down on Earth. I think I’m in love now.
But I digress. Cady would be building these Lego models not just for the fun of it, but to show children how they behave in space. She will “explore the effects of microgravity on simple machines by building models, conducting experiments, and sharing those results with students and teachers back on Earth through video and crew commentary.”
Down here, teachers and students will be able to build the same models. The teacher would be able to download a guide and a student worksheet, so they can also perform the same experiments down here and compare the results with those shown on the videos.
I find it surprising that this is the first time that Lego models have been brought up to space, but there’s a reason for it: Missing pieces. Not only every gram that you carry to space has a huge cost in terms of fuel, but you can’t litter your living environment with little Lego bricks.
To avoid that, the sets will be enclosed in a see-through glove box, “so the small pieces don’t get lost in the station.” Coleman – who actually trained to do this – will build the sets inside that glove box, demonstrating how they work afterwards in front of millions of kids.