Like the orbiting outpost on which it is modeled, Lego's new International Space Station has its own mission patch.
Released Saturday (Feb. 1), on the same day that Lego debuted the 864-piece International Space Station (ISS) set for sale, the colorful space patch is a bonus for the members of Lego's loyalty program, "VIP."
"VIPs receive this cool space patch February 1-9 for free when they purchase the International Space Station!" Lego announced on its website.
The 2.75-inch-square (7 centimeters) woven patch depicts the Lego ISS orbiting over the blue and green Earth, set against a black sky dotted with white stars. The patch reads "International Space Station Set" at its top and has both Lego's logo and NASA's "ISS 20" logo, the latter celebrating 20 years of continuous occupancy on board the real space station as of this November.
The patch, which comes packaged in its own small box, has an adhesive backing for easy application.
The "ISS 20" logo also appears on the box for the new Lego Ideas ISS set, which includes the toy bricks needed to build a desktop model of the orbital outpost.
"Build a legend with the exclusive new Lego International Space Station," reads the product page on Lego's website. "For over 20 years, the International Space Station has welcomed cooperation from different nations to achieve common goals that benefit all mankind. The largest spacecraft ever built, it continues to unlock discoveries not possible on Earth — and push the boundaries of human space exploration further than ever before."
The $69.99 ISS set, when assembled, forms a 12-inch-long (31 cm) model of the space station, including its habitable modules, eight solar array wings and backbone truss, as well as its multi-window Cupola, robotic arm and expandable activity module. Two microfigure astronauts, three visiting vehicles and a shuttle orbiter are also part of the set, as is a stand on which to support and display it all.
"Use a robotic arm to launch a satellite into orbit. Bring in the next crew of astronauts. Send the microfigure[s] out to perform repairs," Lego described.
More of a model than a toy, though, the ISS set is recommended for builders 16 years of age and older.
The Lego International Space Station was based on a project submitted to the Lego Ideas website by fan designer Christoph Ruge of Germany. On Friday (Jan. 31), the Lego Store in Nuremberg hosted Ruge for a box signing, providing fans with their first chance to purchase the set.
"That was quite a crowd today — thanks everybody for stopping by!" Ruge wrote on Twitter, retweeting a video showing that the line for his signature filled the store.
The International Space Station VIP bonus is the second space patch that Lego has given away with one of its space-themed sets. In May 2019, members who purchased the NASA Apollo 11 Lunar Lander received a similar patch celebrating that set's release and the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing mission.
The International Space Station set and its space patch are available exclusively from Lego Stores and the company's online shop.
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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.