Image: LEGO version of International Space Station
LEGO Group
LEGO's version of the International Space Station will be built by astronauts living aboard the real orbiting complex.
By
updated 5/30/2011 1:18:07 PM ET 2011-05-30T17:18:07

Astronauts flying on board space shuttle Endeavour's final mission declared assembly of the International Space Station complete this past week, but thanks to a special delivery being left at the orbiting laboratory, the station crew's assembly work has just begun.

Packed on Endeavour for the trip to space and transferred to the space station during the shuttle's docked stay were 30 unassembled LEGO toy models — including a space shuttle and a custom-designed replica of the International Space Station (ISS) itself.

Crew members will build the not-so-miniature LEGO ISS aboard the full-scale — and now fully-complete — station. [ Amazing Spacewalk Photos of Space Station, Endeavour ]

"On behalf of the STS-134 crew and Expedition [28] crew, space station assembly is complete," said Endeavour's commander Mark Kelly on Friday after two spacewalking astronauts added the a robotic arm extension boom to the exterior of the station.

Earlier during the STS-134 mission — the penultimate for the 30-year space shuttle program — Endeavour added to the station a new spare parts platform and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a $2 billion science experiment examining fundamental issues about matter and the origin and the structure of the universe.

With their station assembly work completed, Endeavour's six astronauts departed the ISS late on Sunday evening, leaving behind the LEGO-version of the orbiting outpost for the station's crew to build. [ Gallery: Building the International Space Station ]

Building the future
The LEGO models, including the space station, will be used in eight educational activities that will be conducted by ISS crew members and made available to educators across the United States to utilize in classroom curricula.

The LEGO Bricks in Space project is part of an outreach and educational program developed under the partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group to inspire children to explore science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Education outreach is a big part of what we do at NASA," station flight engineer Ron Garan told collectSPACE from orbit Thursday. "Just the fact that we are flying in space and the amazing things we are doing in space are very inspiring. I know when I was a kid I was inspired by the space program."

"We have lots of different methods [to do] educational outreach, [LEGO is] one of them. I think that's one of the reasons we have the space station, to inspire the next generation," said Garan.

On board the ISS, Garan and his fellow astronauts 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. Each activity will have a teacher's guide and student worksheet so that the same activities can be conducted by students on Earth and the results compared and contrasted.

The LEGO Bricks in Space project encompasses models from the LEGO CITY Space Port line available in stores now with corresponding activities such as a LEGO tour of the space shuttle and International Space Station. The 30 models also include tools, like a Trundle wheel used as a measuring device, and space-only sets such as vignettes showing scenes inside the space station's modules.

Continue reading at collectSPACE.com about how astronauts train to build LEGOs in space and why the LEGO International Space Station can be found only in space.

You can follow collectSPACE on Twitter @ collectSPACE and editor Robert Pearlman @ robertpearlman. Copyright 2011 collectSPACE.com. All rights reserved.

© 2013 Space.com. All rights reserved. More from Space.com.

Photos: Month in Space: January 2014

loading photos...
  1. Southern stargazing

    Stars, galaxies and nebulas dot the skies over the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Paranal Observatory in Chile, in a picture released on Jan. 7. This image also shows three of the four movable units that feed light into the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, the world's most advanced optical instrument. Combining to form one larger telescope, they are greater than the sum of their parts: They reveal details that would otherwise be visible only through a telescope as large as the distance between them. (Y. Beletsky / ESO) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. A balloon's view

    Cameras captured the Grandville High School RoboDawgs' balloon floating through Earth's upper atmosphere during its ascent on Dec. 28, 2013. The Grandville RoboDawgs’ first winter balloon launch reached an estimated altitude of 130,000 feet, or about 25 miles, according to coaches Mike Evele and Doug Hepfer. It skyrocketed past the team’s previous 100,000-feet record set in June. The RoboDawgs started with just one robotics team in 1998, but they've grown to support more than 30 teams at public schools in Grandville, Mich. (Kyle Moroney / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Spacemen at work

    Russian cosmonauts Oleg Kotov, right, and Sergey Ryazanskiy perform maintenance on the International Space Station on Jan. 27. During the six-hour, eight-minute spacewalk, Kotov and Ryazanskiy completed the installation of a pair of high-fidelity cameras that experienced connectivity issues during a Dec. 27 spacewalk. The cosmonauts also retrieved scientific gear outside the station's Russian segment. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Special delivery

    The International Space Station's Canadian-built robotic arm moves toward Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Cygnus autonomous cargo craft as it approaches the station for a Jan. 12 delivery. The mountains below are the southwestern Alps. (NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Accidental art

    A piece of art? A time-lapse photo? A flickering light show? At first glance, this image looks nothing like the images we're used to seeing from the Hubble Space Telescope. But it's a genuine Hubble frame that was released on Jan. 27. Hubble's team suspects that the telescope's Fine Guidance System locked onto a bad guide star, potentially a double star or binary. This caused an error in the tracking system, resulting in a remarkable picture of brightly colored stellar streaks. The prominent red streaks are from stars in the globular cluster NGC 288. (NASA / ESA) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Supersonic test flight

    A camera looking back over Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo's fuselage shows the rocket burn with a Mojave Desert vista in the background during a test flight of the rocket plane on Jan. 10. Cameras were mounted on the exterior of SpaceShipTwo as well as its carrier airplane, WhiteKnightTwo, to monitor the rocket engine's performance. The test was aimed at setting the stage for honest-to-goodness flights into outer space later this year, and eventual commercial space tours.

    More about SpaceShipTwo on PhotoBlog (Virgin Galactic) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Red lagoon

    The VLT Survey Telescope at the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured this richly detailed new image of the Lagoon Nebula, released on Jan. 22. This giant cloud of gas and dust is creating intensely bright young stars, and is home to young stellar clusters. This image is a tiny part of just one of 11 public surveys of the sky now in progress using ESO telescopes. (ESO/VPHAS team) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Fire on the mountain

    This image provided by NASA shows a satellite view of smoke from the Colby Fire, taken by the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer aboard NASA's Terra spacecraft as it passed over Southern California on Jan. 16. The fire burned more than 1,863 acres and forced the evacuation of 3,700 people. (NASA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Where stars are born

    An image captured by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Orion Nebula, an immense stellar nursery some 1,500 light-years away. This false-color infrared view, released on Jan. 15, spans about 40 light-years across the region. The brightest portion of the nebula is centered on Orion's young, massive, hot stars, known as the Trapezium Cluster. But Spitzer also can detect stars still in the process of formation, seen here in red hues. (NASA / JPL-Caltech) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Cygnus takes flight

    Orbital Sciences Corp.'s Antares rocket rises from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, Va, on Jan. 9. The rocket sent Orbital's Cygnus cargo capsule on its first official resupply mission to the International Space Station. (Chris Perry / NASA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A long, long time ago...

    This long-exposure picture from the Hubble Space Telescope, released Jan. 8, is the deepest image ever made of any cluster of galaxies. The cluster known as Abell 2744 appears in the foreground. It contains several hundred galaxies as they looked 3.5 billion years ago. Abell 2744 acts as a gravitational lens to warp space, brightening and magnifying images of nearly 3,000 distant background galaxies. The more distant galaxies appear as they did more than 12 billion years ago, not long after the Big Bang. (NASA / NASA via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Frosty halo

    Sun dogs are bright spots that appear in the sky around the sun when light is refracted through ice crystals in the atmosphere. These sun dogs appeared on Jan. 5 amid brutally cold temperatures along Highway 83, north of Bismarck, N.D. The temperature was about 22 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, with a 50-below-zero wind chill.

    Slideshow: The Year in Space (Brian Peterson / The Bismarck Tribune via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments