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Fan's LEGO Replica of International Space Station Soars to 10,000 Votes

LEGO International Space Station
Christoph Ruge's LEGO International Space Station recreates the orbiting outpost out of the iconic plastic toy bricks. (Image credit: LEGO Ideas)

A fan's yearlong mission to gain support for his LEGO version of the International Space Station is now complete.

Christoph Ruge's model of the orbiting outpost recorded its 10,000th vote on Friday (April 3) after being posted to the Danish toy company's social website, LEGO Ideas, more than a year ago. Ruge's plastic brick replica of the space station racked up its final 2,035 supporters in a matter of just 10 hours after it made it onto the front page of another popular website.

"Please support the project so we can all have a little ISS in our homes and/or office cubicles," Monitor343, a Reddit member, wrote in his appeal to readers of the site's Space community. [LEGOs and Space Travel: A Photo Gallery]

LEGO will officially review fan-proposed ideas for production if they receive 10,000 votes on the LEGO Ideas site.

The project's soaring support came within 26 days of its expiration. Interest in the space station model grew slowly until last month, when it finally reached the halfway mark of 5,000 votes. Along the way, NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) — partners aboard the actual space station — gave Ruge's idea a boost by sharing it with their social media followers.

"A space station design is up for LEGO community fans to vote on," NASA wrote on Twitter in November.

Ruge also had the chance to talk about and show off his model at ESA's European Astronaut Center, located near Cologne, Germany.

Christoph Ruge's LEGO replica of the International Space Station reached 10,000 votes on LEGO Ideas on April 3, 2015. (Image credit: LEGO Ideas via collectSPACE.com)

"Beginning the [March 21 SpaceUp] event with a talk by veteran astronaut Reinhold Ewald and a live tweet from space by ESA astronaut Samantha Christoforetti set the bar high," the space agency described on its website. "It continued to be raised even higher ... [by] both giant and miniature International Space Station models built out of custom LEGO bricks."

Ruge's large model, as posted on LEGO Ideas, recreates the International Space Station in its current configuration, including all of its U.S., Russian, Japanese and European modules. Built from slightly more than 1,000 LEGO bricks, it features rotating solar arrays, an articulated robotic arm and visiting vehicles that can dock to the outpost.

Ruge's model, if approved for production, will be LEGO's first replica of the complete International Space Station to be offered for sale. In 2003, the company, in partnership with the Discovery Channel, sold a 162-brick set of the orbital laboratory based on its then-still under construction configuration.

The real space station was declared complete eight years later in 2011. The orbiting complex has been staffed continuously by a series of rotating crews since November 2000.

Ruge's station is only the fourth model of a real spacecraft to qualify for review. Two earlier ideas, Japan's Hayabusa asteroid sample probe and NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover, entered production and were sold. The third, a fan-created version of the Hubble Space Telescope, was not approved by LEGO.

The International Space Station model will be reviewed beginning in May. Other qualifying projects to be reviewed alongside it include a medieval marketplace, a Douglas DC-3 airliner, a Tyrannosaurus Rex and Elsa's Ice Palace from Disney's animated movie "Frozen."

According to its website, LEGO will announce the results of the review in September. If the space station is given a "go," then it will enter a several-month development phase during which LEGO's own designers will work to refine its construction and prepare it for release.

Click through to collectSPACE to see Christoph Ruge's partially built International Space Station as displayed at ESA's European Astronaut Center.

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Robert Z. Pearlman

Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama.