It’s scientific fact that Legos are awesome. Perhaps the best is Lego Space, particularly the “classic” theme, which featured spaceships, rovers, robots, radar dishes, and moon bases. Remember the little Lego guys dressed in red and yellow spacesuits? It was clear they weren’t really astronauts—after all, they wore open-faced helmets and piloted the spaceships with steering wheels.
Later this year, Lego will release a set that will correct such inaccuracies, as well as promote some under-recognized but astronomically awesome space pioneers: Women of NASA.
The women of NASA lego set. Credit: Maia Weinstock
Created by science writer and MIT News deputy editor Maia Weinstock, Women of NASA beat out a dozen other submissions including a Star Wars Landspeeder, a Large Hadron Collider, and a Lovelace and Babbage set. Each entry had to receive 10,000 signatures in order to make it into the competition.
Five women of NASA are memorialized in the set. There’s Margaret Hamilton, a computer scientist and software trailblazer who developed the programs used in the Apollo moon missions. Katherine Johnson, who was featured in the movie Hidden Figures, also helped make both the Apollo and Mercury missions possible by calculating trajectories for the spacecraft. There’s Nancy Grace Roman, an astronomer who spearheaded astronomy research at NASA and had such a big role in getting the world’s most powerful telescope up and running that she’s referred to as the “Mother of Hubble.” Clad in an orange spacesuit is Mae Jemison, the doctor-turned-astronaut, who became the first African-American woman in space. Jemison tweeted that she’s honored to be included in the set but is “even more jazzed about women in STEM!”
— Dr. Mae Jemison (@maejemison) March 1, 2017
The sets, accessories, and outfits look pretty cool too—Roman looks to be standing in front of a nebula and she’s got a tiny version of Hubble, Hamilton has stacks of code to sift through, Johnson has an old-school (massive) computer, and Ride and Jemison have a space shuttle and proper helmets.
Weinstock’s winning proposal makes the case that “Women have played critical roles throughout the history of the U.S. space program, a.k.a. NASA or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Yet in many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).” Certainly, the impact of these women can’t be denied, and it’s high time their efforts were recognized and celebrated both on the big screen and in the living rooms of families everywhere.