October 20, 2017
Lego's 'Women Of NASA' Set Honors Pioneering Females In Space Travel History

In less than two weeks, Lego's "Women of NASA" set will be out in the market. The set pays tribute to four women who played key roles for the company and made their mark in the history of space travel – pioneering female astronauts Sally Ride and Mae Jemison, and scientists Nancy Grace Roman and Margaret Hamilton.

The new set, which will be released on November 1 and priced at $24.99, is a product of Lego's Ideas platform, a fan-sourcing website that allows people to propose their own projects for future release. As noted by TechCrunch, the Lego "Women of NASA" set was proposed in 2016 by MIT News deputy editor Maia Weinstock, and it didn't take long for the project to get the minimum 10,000 supporters Lego requires for approval.

Originally, Weinstock had proposed the inclusion of five women in the Lego set. According to Gizmodo, these included Sally Ride, who became the first American woman in space in 1983; Mae Jemison, who followed nine years later as the first African-American woman in space; computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, who developed the flight software for NASA's Apollo moon missions; astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, who was an instrumental part in the creation of the Hubble Space Telescope; and mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose trajectory calculations for the Mercury and Apollo programs played a key role in their success.

In the end, all of the above-mentioned women except Johnson were represented in Lego's "Women of NASA" set, but this was explained by the toymaker in a brief statement. A Lego representative told Gizmodo that the company was not able to "obtain approval from all key people" in time for the project's release. This was echoed by Weinstock in an Instagram post announcing the set's upcoming release and specifying that Lego and Johnson were not able to come to an agreement about her inclusion in the final product.

Despite only including four out of the five influential females Weinstock had in mind for her set, TechCrunch wrote that the project remains faithful to her original vision. Each of the individual figurines were meticulously detailed, right down to the outfits each woman wore in real life, as Science Alert also noted. For example, the Sally Ride figurine wears a 1980s-style blue training spacesuit, complete with a "Sally" name tag, while Mae Jemison's figurine is clad in the orange flight suit introduced in the late '80s.

Lego's "Women of NASA" set is far from being the only space travel-inspired project to pass through the company's Ideas platform. Currently, a model of NASA's upcoming James Webb Space Telescope has 1,394 supporters out of the required 10,000 for project approval, with 414 days remaining before the proposal expires. A "NASA Spacecraft" set that includes the Discovery shuttle, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Pioneer 10 probe, and the Viking 1 spacecraft has gotten 2,300 supporters, and has 500 more days to garner approval.

[Featured Image by Paolo Bona/Shutterstock]