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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: NASA'S SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM: TO THE MOON AND MARS BY NASA RocketBuilder

Houston... we don't have a problem! Instead, we have an amazing addition to the 10K Club. Please welcome William, a.k.a. NASA RocketBuilder, and his NASA'S SPACE LAUNCH SYSTEM: TO THE MOON AND MARS project. If you are fascinated and inspired by the space, this idea will be sure to impress. Show your support and share your comments in the section below.



 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    William Butterworth.
     
  2. Where are you from?
    I am from the state of Kansas in the United States. 
     
  3. How old are you?
    15 years old. 
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I am a high school student. 
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    I have a lot of hobbies including building LEGO models, playing basketball, running track and field, archery, playing guitar and reading. I also enjoy playing board games. 

     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    https://www.instagram.com/nasa_rocket_builder/
     
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
    Yes, I enjoy building Star Wars, space and military vehicles. For example, I made a custom version of the Mandalorian’s N1 Starfighter. I have also built an F-15, an F-16 (in the USAF Thunderbirds color scheme), a P-51D, and an M. Bf 109. Other favorites include my M4 Sherman, Panther, and M1A2 Abrams tanks. 
     
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
    When I was 5 or 6, I received my first set, which was a small, yellow mining truck. Ever since, I have been building LEGO and improving my skills. 
     
  9. What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    I primarily build, display, and take photos of official LEGO sets, as well as MOCs.
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    My favorite themes are LEGO Star Wars, IDEAS, and Icons. All three of these themes exhibit awesome building techniques to make really excellent and enjoyable sets.
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
    My favorite set is the LEGO IDEAS Saturn V set (92176) because it looks great. One has to look closely to tell that is actually a LEGO set, and it uses cool building techniques throughout the entire build. Plus, I am a huge fan of NASA’s Apollo space missions. 
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    It’s hard for me to say because there are so many great LEGO elements to choose from. I like all sorts of small and unusual elements, like the Bar 1L with 1x1 Round Plate or the headlight brick, because they are good for detailing and many other uses.

     
  13. Is there one or more particular LEGO-related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by? 
    I enjoy visiting BrickLink.com for inspiration since it has many cool MOCs. 



     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I am a big fan of NASA. When I learned that the agency was planning to go back to the Moon through the Artemis program, I was inspired to build the rocket the astronauts would be using to go there: The Space Launch System (SLS). Owing to the popularity of the Saturn V set, I made the SLS to the same scale so that the two rockets could be displayed together. If the LEGO IDEAS team decides to make this idea into a set, the first missions to the Moon may happen near the time of the set’s release. 
     
  2. How long was the process of making the project, and what did you have to research as well? What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    This project took a total building time of about one month. I didn’t know much about the rocket at first and built a rough draft that was far too big. After more research on NASA’s website, I corrected the size of the rocket and made it smaller. Then, I posted the first version of my SLS set on LEGO IDEAS. Over time, I added additional details, like decals, and modified the build to make it more realistic. In total, I updated the rocket several times until it reached the current version. 
     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    The cone-shaped stage adapter in between the Core Stage and the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS) was the hardest part to model/recreate. The original design submitted used just two parts – two 10x5x5 half cones. This solution, however, made the ICPS smaller and less realistic. So, I decided to use wedge plates to make a cone. It was hard to do this without leaving huge holes in the Launch Vehicle Stage Adapter. I went through two or three different versions over time, the last one requiring a major redesign of the entire SLS rocket! I am pretty happy now with the final design.  

     
  4. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters? 
    It took about a month’s time total to design the model and add decals, though the work was spread out over about a 6-8 month period. The only thing I did to promote my project was to periodically post on Instagram and update my SLS project LEGO IDEAS page. So, the build time was substantially longer than the time I spent promoting it. Most of the 10K supporters for my SLS set came from the IDEAS website.
     
  5. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take? 
    The project took a little more than a year to reach the 10K supporters mark. I was really excited when it reached that point. When I woke up one morning about three weeks ago, it was at 9,998 votes. I was able to watch it go to 9,999 votes and then 10,000 a few minutes later! I would like to thank everyone who shared and supported my SLS build. I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help! 
     
  6. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model? 
    The model is 1,745 pieces in total. 
     
  7. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I used BrickLink Studio 2.0. 
     
  8. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I used the Studio PartDesigner for the custom prints. 


     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Sure! Find something that you like and that you think others would be interested in. Then, try sharing it online in posts and blogs. Although, I didn’t do a ton of that and mostly showed my idea to people I know, here I am today. So, you can do it too! 
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    Outside of updates to my LEGO IDEAS project page, I would occasionally post to my Instagram site. 
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    There are so many that it is hard to choose, but I really liked the JWST IDEAS MOC by @tonysmyuncle. It gained 10,000 supporters quickly more than once, so given it’s popularity, one could argue it has been overlooked. 
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I thought it would be a great honor, privilege and super cool to be the designer of a real LEGO set. This platform gives people a chance to be one! 
     
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    I don’t have any plans to submit new Product Ideas in the near future, but I do plan to eventually submit more. I enjoy space themes, so my guess is that the next one will again be something space-related. 
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