One way to inspire kids to get interested in STEM is to introduce them to it at an early age. Lego is one of the best gateways to that interest, and the company has been busy churning out space-themed toys for most of its existence. Now another entry has joined that long, distinguished line of interlocking brick system designs – the Rocket Launch Center, #60351.
The center is pretty noticeably modeled on the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Artemis moon exploration program. Lego itself quickly points out that the playset contains “NASA-inspired features” rather than any direct licensee with the agency. They have done so in the past, though, including with a Space Shuttle Discovery set, as well as being part of the drive to name the rovers that eventually became Opportunity and Spirit.
We can only speculate why the set so obviously modeled on one of the agency’s main focal projects didn’t get the official NASA seal of approval. It might have something to do with the continual delays and budget overruns that the SLS, and the Artemis program by proxy, are suffering through. But a version of James Webb, which suffered from its own set of cost overruns to eventually be successfully launched, is currently undergoing review on the Lego ideas page, so there may be some potential deal in the future for a fully licensed version.
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For now, though, the Rocket Launch Center is simply part of Lego’s more extensive City range of toys. It comes in at 1010 pieces, including six mini-figures, a rocket that looks strikingly like the SLS, a launch tower, an “observation dome,” and a launch control center. It also has several vehicles, including a “planetary rover” based upon what Lego’s designers think the Artemis lunar rover would look like.
The service vehicle looks like a little Jeep, while it also appears there is a small meteorite it is supposed to be designed to pick up. There’s also a miniature drone, which can fly in front of the observational deck with a hatch that can open. The rocket also fits perfectly into the launch tower while also being multistage, as the planned SLS is supposed to be.
Overall the set has the same quality owners expect from Lego. Space junkies will just have to see if this Rocket Launch Center becomes a limited edition and is eventually replaced by a fully licensed Artemis Mission set.
The Rocket Launch Center set.
Credit – Lego