Video: It isn’t quite as challenging as actually landing a pair of astronauts on the Moon, but aerospace engineer and talented toy hacker Adam Woodworth has managed to upgrade LEGO’s Apollo 11 Lunar Lander set with all the motors and electronics needed to make it actually fly, letting him recreate that memorable landing all over again.
Aside from astronaut minifigures that look as though they were borrowed from the set of a sci-fi movie, LEGO’s Apollo 11 is an impressively faithful recreation of the lunar module and its ascent and descent stages.
That’s great for collectors and fans of NASA’s Apollo missions, but not so great if you’re an engineer trying to find room for batteries, controllers and a bunch of electronics that are far more powerful than what powered the real Apollo 11 mission.
Woodworth had to do a few custom modifications on the model to squeeze everything in, but he managed to pull it off without changing the look of the set — for the most part. The only upgrade that was impossible to hide is a set of four propeller blades and electric motors on the underside of the lander.
Without the benefits of the Moon’s reduced gravity, Woodworth needed to use a specific sized propeller blade to create enough lift to get the model airborne, and that required the props to overlap in order to fit them within the size constraints of the Eagle’s landing gear.
The model may never leave Earth’s orbit, or Woodworth’s living room for that matter, given how tricky it looks to pilot. But maybe we can still convince Damien Chazelle to make a movie about this achievement too?