NextGen Space Shuttle2
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BACKGROUND: In 1969 the world was in awe and filled with inspiration of the possible when Neil Armstrong first stepped foot on the moon – it seemed as though anything was achievable. Later through the 80’s and 90’s the Space Shuttle sent numerous missions into orbit, eventually establishing a permanent International Space Station which allowed the pursuit of science to continue.
Over the decades however, public interest for space exploration has unfortunately waned. The original Shuttle was exorbitantly expensive and prone to fatal catastrophes. The VentureStar and X-33 concepts were abandoned due to technical faults. Since, we’ve back-stepped to rocket technology of the last century, the accomplishments don’t seem quite as heroic, the discoveries seem to go unnoticed, and the desperate hopes for privatized future endeavors seem misplaced.
A new paradigm in space exploration is sorely needed so that science and knowledge isn’t simply a political pinata, and future generations can once again be inspired to dream of the possible.
THE MODEL: After a multi-decade hibernation, NASA, with robust public support has finally developed and launched the next generation of space and science exploration with the NextGen Space Shuttle2 Program – a critical mission to advance science and knowledge of our planet, solar system, the cosmos beyond, and life itself, like never before. All of which is backed by state-of-the-art technology, revolutionary design, and sustainable thinking.
The centerpiece of the program, is the fleet of Shuttle2 suborbital spaceplanes, which differ greatly from the original Shuttle in the following ways:
- Shuttle2 Program is composed of a fleet of 15+ Shuttles, as
opposed to the original Space Shuttle Program which was bottlenecked by one
usable vehicle at any given period.
- Shuttle2 is a single-stage-to-orbit reusable launch system,
as opposed to the bulky and wasteful multi-phase system with disposable booster
rockets with a single lifespan.
- Shuttle2 has an in-place (Harrier Jump Jet-like) horizontal
take off methodology, as opposed to the vertical launch which requires
excessive support infrastructure (tower/crawler-transporter) and excessive
energy. Landing system also allows for planetary landings without runway.
- Shuttle2 is powered by Ultra High-Density Lithium-Composite
electric supply banks rechargeable by abundant light and solar radiation
present in space, as opposed to caustic fossil fuels that can only be refilled
on Earth. The black of the model represents in-material solar energy generation
- Shuttle2 has a robust outer shell that can endure multiple
exit and entries through the atmospheres of countless planets, as opposed to
the fragile ceramic tiles of the original Shuttle that led to numerous
disasters. Note that Shuttle2 only has windows below it’s armored shell, which
can be utilized once in space, and the plane is visually operated by an
interior VR display system.
- Shuttle2 has the ability to reach speeds up to 400K mph vs.
the original Shuttles orbital speed of 17K mph, for example, shortening the
travel time to mars from 8 months to 1 month.
- Shuttle2 has a cargo bay with drop ramp for rover
- Shuttle2’s Canadarm (remote-controlled mechanical arm/crane)
is located in the planes nose to maximize payload capacity in the cargo bay.
MODEL DIMENSIONS: 16 in. long, 15 in. wide, 7.5 in. tall.
MODEL ACCESSORIES: The model includes 6 minifigures (thanks LEGO People Pack set 60230), 2 unmanned rovers (including specimen containers, utility arms, camera systems, on-board experiments, and large telescope), and one communication satellite.
ACCESSORY SETS: Additional accessory sets with the same theme have the potential to further be developed, including:
- Mars Colony Laboratory
- Mars Terrestrial Station + Inhabitants
- Specialty rovers (e.g., construction, science, transport,
- Mini Shuttle2
INSPIRATION: One Strange Rock (Nat’l Geographic/Disney+), the original Space Shuttle Program (1981-2011), Tesla’s energy/electric revolution, VenturStar/X-33 concepts, Star Wars space craft, and LEGO CITY current space/mars themed sets. In-line with the International Space Station set 21321, I was also inspired to create a more technically challenging product (product line) offering that would be complimentary to the current CITY themes, and appeal to a broader demographic of LEGO fan/builder.