LEGO offers new International Space Station kit

LEGO will release the International Space Station kit on February 1st. The highly elaborate kit (list price $69.99) is in the IDEAS line of models “inspired and voted for by LEGO fans”:

Packed with authentic ISS details, including a posable Canadarm2 and 2 rotating joints that coincide with 8 adjustable ‘solar panels’, this 864-piece set is a wonderful gift idea for space enthusiasts, adult LEGO fans or any experienced builder. Beautiful centerpiece This awesome LEGO spaceship model comes with a display stand, a buildable mini NASA space shuttle and 3 mini cargo spacecrafts, plus 2 astronaut microfigures to create a striking centerpiece in any room. Illustrated instructions are included, plus a 148-page booklet with fascinating ISS facts and information about the LEGO fan who created this space model kit and its LEGO designer [Christophe Ruge].

The LEGO International Space Station model kit.

The announcement on Twitter:

A skilled builder shows how it’s done”

collectSPACE says:

LEGO first announced that it was producing the International Space Station as a toy set in June 2019, after it won a fan poll in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the LEGO Ideas website. The space station received 45 percent of the more than 22,000 votes cast in a competition against three other possible sets.

The LEGO ISS got its start five years earlier, when Christoph Ruge, a LEGO and space enthusiast from Germany, first submitted his design for the space station brick-built model to the LEGO Ideas website. It qualified for a review by the LEGO team, but was rejected in 2015.

In 2018, Ruge re-entered his space station after scaling it down to match the size of the shuttle included in a winning LEGO Ideas project, the “Women of NASA” set released in 2017. (The orbiter included in the ISS set coming out Feb. 1 is similar to, but not identical to the “Women of NASA” model.) Again, LEGO’s design team did not select Ruge’s ISS to go forward, but then the anniversary vote came about.

The complete LEGO ISS kit.

More at:

LEGO ISS on display.

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The Space Show this week – Jan.20.2020

The guests and topics of discussion on The Space Show this week:

1. Monday, Jan. 20, 2020; 7 pm PST (9 pm CST, 10 pm EST) No special programming today.

2. Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PDT (9-10:30 pm CDT, 10-11:30 pm EDT): We welcome back Dr. Jeffrey Coughlin for a detailed Exoplanet discussion and more.

3. Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020: Pre-recorded Hotel Mars Program with John Batchelor. See Upcoming Show on The Space Show website for details.

4. Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020; 7-8:30 pm PST (9-10:30 pm CST, 10-11:30 pm EST): No special program today.

5. Friday, Jan. 24, 2020; 9:30-11 am PST; 11:30 am-1 pm CST; 12:30-2 pm EST): No show today, Dr. Space is on medical leave.

6. Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020; 12-1:30 pm PST, (3-4:30 pm EST, 2-3:30 pm CST): We welcome back author Mark Canepa regarding his excellent book, Large and Dangerous Rocket Ships: The History of High-power Rocketry’s Ascent to the Edges of Outer Space[Amazon commission link].

Some recent shows:

** Sun, 01/19/2020Dr. David Livingston led an Open Lines discussion with listeners about “multiple topics based on callers and email questions/comments”.

** Fri, 01/17/2020 – Douglas Messier of Parabolic Arc talked about “NewSpace, Commercial Space and Space Policy for 2020, suborbital and orbital tourism, China, 2019 events and more”.

** Tue, 01/14/2020Janelle Wellons discussed “Titan and space settlement, Europa, Enceladus plus instrument engineering work on planetary missions at JPL”.

** See also:
* The Space Show Archives
* The Space Show Newsletter
* The Space Show Shop

The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.

The Space Show - David Livingston
The Space Show – David Livingston

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Space policy roundup – Jan.20.2020

A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government (US and international) related space news and resource items that I found of interest (find previous space policy roundups here):


** The Space Show – Fri, 01/17/2020 – Douglas Messier of Parabolic Arc talked about “NewSpace, Commercial Space and Space Policy for 2020, suborbital and orbital tourism, China, 2019 events and more”.

** The Space Show – Tue, 01/14/2020Janelle Wellons discussed “Titan and space settlement, Europa, Enceladus plus instrument engineering work on planetary missions at JPL”.

** China to launch Chang’e-5, Mars probes in 2020 – CCTV

China plans to launch Chang’e-5 lunar probe and its first Mars probe in 2020 as part of the country’s ambitious space program, according to a plan released Friday in Beijing by the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). More on:…

** China is ushering in a phase of super space programs – CGTN

In 2018, China alone accounted for over one-third of the world’s rocket launches. Today, Chinese astronauts strive to reach the final goal of the lunar exploration program. Once trailing behind in global space programs, China has now earned its place in the space race and is tapping into this new field.

** January 14, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black

** January 10, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black

** January 17, 2020 Zimmerman/Batchelor podcast | Behind The Black

** Robot Arms and Space Toilets | Podcasts | Naked Scientists

Shuttle astronaut Mike Mullane recounts stories of space sexism, toilets and M and Ms in the first Space Boffins podcast of 2020. We also meet the engineer developing the controls for a new robotic arm for the space station – or ‘Man Machine Interface’ – and Richard and Sue are joined by science writer Colin Stuart to look ahead to the next year in space. Warning: this podcast features some disturbing audio of a space toilet malfunction…


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Videos: “Space to Ground” ISS report – Jan.17.2020

Here is the latest episode in NASA’s Space to Ground weekly report on activities related to the International Space Station:

** Down to Earth – Episode 6 – Ever Changing Picture

As we enter the year the space station 20th anniversary, NASA astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson shares what stood out to her most about seeing Earth from orbit in this episode of “Down to Earth – Ever Changing Picture.” The shift in worldview is inspired by space philosopher Frank White.

** Christina Koch’s Memorable Moments: Part 2

The longest single spaceflight ever by a female astronaut or cosmonaut is now 306 days long, with more to come. On top of adding to her total spaceflight time, NASA astronaut Christina Koch looks back over her long mission and recalls some favorite moments, including her favorite meal and most memorable view from orbit.

** Train Like An Astronaut: Kelly Marie Tran and Naomi Ackie

On December 11th, 2019, Kelly Marie Tran and Naomi Ackie from the film Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker spent the day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center training like astronauts and learning about NASA’s plans to explore the Moon with the new Artemis program, which includes landing the first woman and next man on the lunar surface by 2024. Follow Tran and Ackie – used to traveling through galaxies far, far away – through their training with NASA astronauts Meghan McArthur and Jessica Watkins on a gravity offload system, in the Orion crew capsule, an exploration rover, and much more! Music from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker featured tracks include: Main FanFare, The Rise of Skywalker, and The Finale composed by John Williams.

** NASA Astronauts Spacewalk Outside the International Space Station on Jan. 15, 2020

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will step outside of the International Space Station into the vacuum of space together. The duo will replace old nickel-hydrogen batteries with newer, more powerful lithium-ion batteries to continue upgrading station power systems on the Port-6 truss structure. The spacewalk is scheduled to begin at 6:50 a.m. EST and last about six-and-a-half hours.

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Space transport roundup – Jan.17.2020

A sampling of recent articles, videos, and images dealing with space transport (find previous roundups here):

[ Update  3:35 pm:  Here is a video of the pre-test briefing at Kennedy held this afternoon at KSC:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Benji Reed, director, Crew Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer 45th Weather Squadron

More resources:

Update 10:50 am: The SpaceX webcast  page is now configured for tomorrow’s schedule in-flight abort test and it offers the SpaceX IFA press kit (pdf). The webcast will go live about 20 minutes before lift off.

Other resources:


** SpaceX aims for two Falcon 9 launches in next three days starting with the in-flight abort (IFA) test on Saturday morning. On Monday there will be another batch of 60 Starlink satellites sent into low earth orbit.

The IFA window opens at 8:00 am EST:

The Starlink 3 launch is set for 12:20 pm EST (1720 GMT) on Monday. See also

More SpaceX items below.

** An Ariane 5 rocket sent two satellites to GEO transfer orbits on Thursday. The spacecraft were the EUTELSAT KONNECT for the telecom operator Eutelsat and GSAT-30 for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

** Construction of Blue Origin facilities at Cape Canaveral making rapid progress according to Florida Today space reporter Emre Kelly:

An image of the New Glenn launch pad construction:

** Boeing Starliner returns in good shape to KSC after orbital test mission:  Boeing expects ‘minimal refurbishment’ on reusable Starliner crew capsule – Spaceflight Now

** Boeing releases a video taken inside Starliner during the test flight: Boeing releases in-cabin video from Starliner’s orbital test flight – Spaceflight Now

Boeing caption:

Take a look inside the #Starliner on its Orbital Flight Test. Four interior cameras captured the mission, and this video covers nearly every dynamic event during the flight, including launch, separation events, on-orbit maneuvering, re-entry and landing. This is just a preview of what’s to come from the Dec. 20-22 flight as we prepare to release all our onboard mission footage.

** China successfully launched remote sensing satellite Jilin-1  on a Long March-2D rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the northern province of Shanxi on January 15.

** New funding moves SpinLaunch closer to first test of catapult launch system:

The responsive launch system utilizes a large mass accelerator to provide on demand launches of small satellites in virtually any weather at an order of magnitude lower cost and higher frequency than any existing or proposed launch system.

Investors include Airbus Ventures, GV, KPCB, Catapult Ventures, Lauder Partners, John Doerr and Byers Family. The funds from this investment will be used to scale the SpinLaunch team and technology and continue to build out SpinLaunch’s new corporate headquarters in Long Beach, California, and complete the flight test facility at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“Our team at SpinLaunch greatly appreciates the continued support of this formidable syndicate of investors, who share our vision of enabling low-cost and frequent launch of imaging and communications constellations that will protect our planet and humanity.” said CEO Yaney. “Later this year, we aim to change the history of space launch with the completion of our first flight test mass accelerator at Spaceport America.”

In January 2019, SpinLaunch relocated to a new 140,000 square foot facility in Long Beach, California, and funds will be used for the buildout of this corporate headquarters and investing in equipment and machinery to be a world-class R&D manufacturing facility. In addition, the company is hiring additional talent for both its Long Beach headquarters and Spaceport test facility. First flight test is expected later this year.

Prototype SpinLaunch module. Credit: New Mexico Economic Development Department

** Northrop Grumman Cygnus cargo ship to stay longer in orbit after departing from the ISS: NASA, FCC approve Cygnus NG-12 post-Station mission extension –

Coming two weeks before the NG-12 Cygnus is scheduled to depart the International Space Station on 31 January 2020, NASA’s Johnson Space Center officially requested, and the Federal Communications Commission approved, a post-Station mission extension for the craft. 

For this mission, Cygnus had a pre-flight approval to perform two weeks of solo flight operations after leaving the Station before destructively re-entering.  That solo flight operation has now been extended to 31 days in large part due to the planned 9 February launch of the NG-13 Cygnus from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport in Virginia.

** Generation Orbit tests Ursa Major Technologies propulsion system for X-60A hypersonic project: X-60A program conducts integrated vehicle propulsion system verification test – Wright-Patterson AFB

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s X-60A program recently achieved a key developmental milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsion system verification ground testing.

The X-60A is an air-launched rocket designed for hypersonic flight research. It is being developed by Generation Orbit Launch Services under an AFRL Small Business Innovation Research contract. The goal of the X-60A program is to provide affordable and routine access to relevant hypersonic flight conditions for technology maturation. This test included both cold flow and hot fire testing with the Hadley liquid rocket engine developed by Ursa Major Technologies. Flight-like hardware was tested using flight-like operational procedures. The test runs covered full duration burns, engine gimbaling for thrust vector control, and system throttling.

“This test series was a critical step in reducing risk and gathering necessary system integration data in preparation for our upcoming flight tests,” said Barry Hellman, AFRL X-60A program manager. “When we go to flight later this year, we hope to demonstrate the capability of the X-60A to provide affordable access to hypersonic flight conditions, which will position AFRL to deliver an innovative test capability for the Air Force and other DoD organizations.”           

X-60A is a single-stage liquid rocket primarily designed for hypersonic flight research and is launched from a modified business jet carrier aircraft. It is capable of testing a wide range of hypersonic technologies including airbreathing propulsion, advanced materials, and hypersonic vehicle subsystems. The vehicle propulsion system utilizes liquid oxygen and kerosene propellants. The system is designed to provide affordable and regular access to high dynamic pressure flight conditions above Mach 5.

During the upcoming flight tests based out of Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, FL, the X-60A will fly at relevant conditions necessary for technology maturation. Data will be collected to validate the overall vehicle design functionality as well as performance predictions.

“A recent X-60A hot fire test, conducted at Cecil Spaceport in Jacksonville, Florida. The X-60A, developed through an Air Force Research Laboratory Small Business Innovation Research contract, is an air-launched rocket designed for hypersonic flight research. (U.S. Air Force photo)”

** Lots of private space launch activities expected in 2020: This year may finally fulfill the promise of private human spaceflight | Ars Technica

This year could see the fulfillment of a number of long-promised achievements in human spaceflight. For the first time, private companies could launch humans into orbit in 2020, and two different companies could send paying tourists on suborbital missions. The aerospace community has been watching and waiting for these milestones for years, but 2020 is probably the year for both.

We may also see a number of new rocket debuts this year, both big and small. A record number of missions—four—are also due to launch to Mars from four different space agencies. That’s just the beginning of what promises to be an exciting year; here’s a look at what we’re most eagerly anticipating in the coming 11.5 months.

** SpaceX:

**** Falcon 9 up closeSpaceX Falcon 9 rocket shown off in unprecedented detail ahead of next US Air Force launch – Telsarati

The octaweb end of the Falcon 9 first stage that will launch the Air Forces’s GPS III SV03 satellite. Credits: USAF

**** More about SpaceX’s plans to build new mobile tower at Pad 39A for vertical installation of military satellites: SpaceX’s Falcon rockets might need a giant tower on wheels for US military launches – Teslarati

SpaceX reportedly plans to build a massive mobile gantry – effectively a tower on wheels – at one of its two Florida launch pads, a bid to meet obscure military launch criteria needed to secure highly lucrative Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch contracts from the US government.

Although this is not the first time that SpaceX and vertical integration have been thrown around in the same sentence, it is the first time that the company is reportedly close to actually finalizing its plans along those lines and constructing a real solution at one or more of its three orbital-class launch pads.

**** Starship

****** Construction of Starship SN-1 ramping up. Here is a new tweet from Elon:

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – Deconstruction

At SpaceX Boca Chica, engineers have begun dismantling the test tank (“Bopper”), the UFO Steel Rings and an old bulkhead, while the Starship SN1 Nosecone gained a friend in the Windbreak. Muted due to high wind noise conditions. Footage and photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF. Edited by Jack Beyer (@thejackbeyer).

****** SpaceX Boca Chica – More Buildings, Test Tank Dismantled, Starship

A very busy SpaceX Boca Chica video, as more buildings are constructed, steel rings are mated and Test Tank “Bopper” is literally pulled apart. Video and Photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF with additional photos from NSF Member Nomadd (@@nomadd13)

****** Boca Chica operations receive deliveries from Florida facility: SpaceX Transports Starship Hardware with Addition of New Ship –

SpaceX’s GO Discovery ship has arrived in Texas to deliver more Starship hardware to Boca Chica, a facility that continues to expand. A Jobs Fair was held today, showing SpaceX’s expansion intent. Video and Photos from Mary (@bocachicagal) for NSF.

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