The LMFD intergalactic fire station is bound for NASA's launch site in Florida.
The winning build from "LEGO Masters'" astronaut-studded season premiere, which aired Wednesday (Sept. 21) on FOX, the LFMD was judged to be the best personalized spaceship among the 12 competing teams' creations. Firefighters Stephen Joo and Stephen Cassley constructed the craft, which as the winning model will soon go on display at NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
"I can't believe that's something that's actually happening," Cassley said in an interview with collectSPACE.com. "It's a surreal feeling knowing that it's going to get displayed for thousands of people to come to and see."
Given just 13 hours to create a spaceship that could dock with a larger LEGO brick space station but also show the judges something about their team, Cassley and Joo designed the LMFD — or LEGO Masters Fire Department — to resemble an iconic symbol associated with their profession.
"We decided to go with a very iconic image in the form of a Maltese cross, which is on all uniforms of firefighters around the world," Joo said on the show.
Built primarily out of red bricks with yellow and clear parts as highlights, the LMFD required build techniques that were a first for the two Stephens.
"That connection has got to be Technic," Cassley said, referring to LEGO's line of more advanced construction kits. "That is the only way we are going to get the strength out of it."
"This is not my wheelhouse, so I'm a little hesitant to use stuff like that," Joo said as he and Cassley continued to build.
As the hours counted down, host Will Arnett and Brickmasters (and LEGO employees) Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard had a couple of surprise guests for the teams. At the T-5 hour mark, the show joined via video NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn on board the real International Space Station (Marshburn was most recently aboard the orbiting outpost from November 2021 through May of this year).
"We're excited to see what ideas your LEGO Masters are working on today," Marshburn said.
The contestants were also visited on set by NASA astronaut Jessica Meir.
"She came over with the judges and Will at one point and just had a look at what we were doing. Mostly observing, but she gave us some feedback at the time and we incorporated a couple of her ideas about having people inside [the LMFD] and having stories and whatnot," Joo told collectSPACE.
Those details became apparent when the team described their build on the show.
"This Maltese cross-shaped starship flies faster than any hook and ladder, putting out fires across the galaxy," Joo said.
"In between calls, the firefighters on board can pick up some fun by playing darts or fetch with our lovable donations," Cassley added.
Competing against other teams' builds, including spaceships resembling a physician's medical bag, an intergalactic garden, a dance club and a mango, the LMFD was chosen for its creativity and construction strength.
"You held together a massive model. The fact that you had those gorgeous shapes coming together, it really told us who you are as a team," Berard said.
Based in Canada, both Joo and Cassley hope to see their LMFD again when it goes on display at NASA.
"That's my game plan," Joo said. "I have three kids who are very active and into the hobby, my wife as well, so I'm hoping we can take a family trip to Florida."
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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. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.