Lego celebrates space with a drone show showcasing kid-designed spacecrafts

 Lego logo illuminated by drones in NYC sky.
Lego logo illuminated by drones in NYC sky.

Space and Lego have always gone together – both in the form of more realistic sets, with the Icons and Ideas collections, and in a creative realm, with City and Friends. That’s part of the wonderful trick of a Lego brick or any other piece, which can be used to build whatever you imagine.

Approaching the launch of two new space sets – Artemis 5 and the Milky Way – The Lego Group is sharing some new data on a study that the toy company conducted. Lego found that 86% of children between the ages of four and fourteen are interested in space, showing a renewed interest over previous years.

To celebrate, Lego asked kids to design a spacecraft to get them one day from Earth  to the great unknown.

Out of all the submissions, Lego narrowed it down to six. Their designs were turned into proper builds by Didac Perez Soriano, an Associate Master Builder at Lego House.

Then, the vessels were shown off high in the sky. How? A drone show, with New York City’s skyline acting as the backdrop. The winning six vessels were animated by a drone display, ranging from a T-Rex with a jetpack to a bed with wings.

You can jump to the video at the bottom, or read on for more.

Lego drone show in NYC celebrating space.
Lego drone show in NYC celebrating space.

On hand at the event were Dan Meehan, Creative Lead for Lego Space, and Kellie Gerardi, an astronaut, citizen scientist, and one of the first 100 women in space. TechRadar caught up with both to unpack the resurgence in space excitement from Generation Alpha, the drone show, and Gerardi's space journey.

On the survey's findings, Gerardi noted that “Hearing statistics about Generation Alpha and knowing that enthusiasm for space is only growing, is really exciting. I’m someone who believes that space is our shared past and shared future, and so I’m really excited to see that innate curiosity about it exists.” She says Lego is meeting those kids where they’re at with a platform that inspires creativity, both from this contest and with various sets.

On the winner's vessels, Gerardi shared that “we tend to think of space sometimes as this very academic or sterile environment,” but she views it as “the human story.” Elaborating: “to see children be able to apply that human lens to things like space, creativity, and design is really cool.”

Mehan took the time to unpack the Lego Space theme. Space was one of the original Lego themes, alongside Castle and City, which meant the past, present, and future were covered. Initially, sets were more creative than true-to-life, but “in recent times, we’ve done a lot more factual, science, and realistic space sets.” He called out the Artemis Space Launch System, a collaboration with NASA.

Considering the new data showing that 86% of kids want to discover new planets, stars, or galaxies; and 77% want to travel to space, Mehan shared, “It’s all about going to space, but maybe a little more fantastical than what [Lego] had been doing in recent years.” It’s about catering to different audiences, potentially adults and children, with various sets.

One thing that is new for 2024, and a first for Lego, is a common element across different themes – City, Friends, and Technic all feature an alien design. Building elements allow the sets from across themes to connect. This theme even extends from the most basic Lego Duplo all the way up to the latest space art set design for older builders. Mehan shared there's a clue “hidden in the Milky Way art SKU.”

Lego The Milky Way Galaxy Set
Lego The Milky Way Galaxy Set

We also discussed Gerardi's spaceflight. As a payload specialist on the Virgin Galactic’s Galactic 05 research mission in November 2023, Gerardi shared “it was an intensely emotional experience. I was really well prepared for the science [as] I’ve been doing astronautics research for a decade in microgravity, parabolic flights here on earth.”

Gerardi says that nothing truly prepared her for seeing Earth from space with her own eyes. “They coined it the overview effect, that cognitive shift in perspective,” she says it made her even more motivated help other people see that view.

Like many of us – this author included – Gerardi has been around Lego for a while, and she says one of her favorite sets was a Space Shuttle that she still has. The various details of the shuttle helped her “understand exactly what the vehicle was and what it might be like for someone who was working or living on it.”

Gerardi also works as a citizen scientist and is still actively conducting and contributing to various research projects, including diabetes research focused on using continuous glucose monitors in space.

You can see a full video of the drone show that Lego produced below. Whether you’re building off the manual or going the creative route, Lego is prepared to provide the tools you need to complete the mission.

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