Lego Honors Women of NASA
Four outstanding women from NASA’s history got the Lego treatment in the new Women of NASA set, which launched Nov. 1, 2017 and almost immediately sold out on Amazon. The 231-piece set costs $25 and includes computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, and astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison as well as props relevant to each woman’s contributions to the space program. [Full Story: Lego Fans Celebrate Release of Women of NASA Set]
Four Incredible Women, Three Cool Builds
The Women of NASA set includes three different Lego builds, one highlighting each profession, which can be used to role-play a space mission from its first planning stages (with Hamilton’s software coding skills) to launch (with Ride and Jemison aboard a space shuttle).
First American Women in Space
Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, were both pioneers in their fields. Ride was a physicist and entrepreneur as well as an astronaut. She applied to NASA in 1977, the first year that women were allowed to apply to the space program, and was one of six women chosen for the 1978 astronaut corps. Nine years later, in 1987, Jemison — who has degrees in both engineering and medicine — was selected to join NASA. She later traveled to space on an eight-day, cooperative mission between the U.S. and Japan in 1992.
The Space Shuttle
Ride and Jemison’s build comes with a model of the space shuttle Challenger, which Ride rode into space but Jemison did not (her mission was aboard the space shuttle Endeavor.) The shuttle includes three removable rocket stages and a launch pad.
Nancy Grace Roman
Nancy Grace Roman was known as the "Mother of Hubble" for her help in planning the telescope. Her build comes with a poseable model of the telescope, as well as a projected image of a planetary nebula like the countless photos Hubble has taken over the years.
A famous photo of Margaret Hamilton that hangs in the MIT Museum inspired the design of her build.
Sally Ride & Mae Jemison
Ride and Jemison’s minifigures come with their own little props — the helmet of a spacesuit for Jemison and a camera for Sally Ride who started the Sally Ride EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students) in 1996 to let students direct a camera aboard the International Space Station to take photos of the Earth from space.
Books of Apollo Codes
Hamilton’s finished build includes stacks of Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) software source code, which the computer scientist developed in the 1960s to safely land Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins on the moon in 1969.
Hubble Space Telescope
Nancy Grace Roman is perhaps best known for her work on the Hubble Telescope, but her contributions to NASA and success as a woman in science began long before then. Roman joined NASA in 1959 and was the first ever Chief of Astronomy in the Office of Space Science, and the first woman to hold an executive position at the agency. Her work was vital not only for Hubble, but also for programs like the Cosmic Background Explorer.
Maia Weinstock, the set’s designer, told Space.com earlier this year that she chose these four women for their diversity of profession, race, age, and backgrounds to show that all kinds of women have and will continue to vital to NASA’s mission.
Designing the Women of NASA
Weinstock’s original design showed Ride and Jemison holding props that alluded to each woman’s educational background in physics and engineering, respectively. The proposed set was changed with the help of Lego designers Tara Wike and Gemma Anderson.