NASA decommissioned the space shuttle in 2011 and in commemoration of the iconic spaceship’s 35 years of service the Lego company released two new versions of the Lego Space Shuttle, one for Lego City fans and the other for older Lego collectors.
Originally released in 201o and then re-released in 2011 with some minor structural changes, the Lego Shuttle Expedition set (10231) is the larger of these two sets while Lego City Space Shuttle (3367) is a smaller set created as part of the Lego City theme.
In this article we take a look at the Lego Shuttle Expedition set (10231).
Lego Space Shuttle Expedition Details
Lego Set Number: 10231
Minifigures: 1 male and 1 female astronaut, 1 service crew member
Price: US $99.99
Released: June 2011 (Replacement for Space Shuttle Adventure 10213 released in 2010)
Theme: Lego Exclusives/Sculptures
Best Prices: Lego Shop
Lego Shuttle Expedition : Background
The Lego Space Shuttle Expedition has an interesting history.
Like the amazing piece of technology on which the model is based, the original version of this set went through some minor changes in it’s testing stage. In 2010 Lego released the set as Lego Shuttle Adventure (adventure being the name of the space shuttle) as set 10213.
It was a very popular set and it wasn’t just adults that bought it for display. Lego found that kids were building the set as well and rather than putting it on a shelf to display the shuttle was being played with, flown around the house-and things were falling off!
Lego released a patch-up kit to strengthen the ship but then decided to reissue the space shuttle set with a few changes.
Here is the official word from Lego about the changes made from set 10213 to set 10312.
“Since its release in 2010, 10213 Shuttle Adventure has proven to be very popular! Although the model was designed for a 16+ target audience, our consumer call center has brought to our intention that many younger children have been building and playing with the model. As a result, the Direct team has decided to look at the model once more to see what changes could be made in order to provide a better build and play experience for a slightly younger target audience.
10231 Shuttle Expedition may look similar to Shuttle Adventure in many ways, however its build is very different and offers several advantages.
- The fuel tank has been reinforced with supports to strengthen the assembly
- The landing gear is strengthened to function better across many different floor types
- The Cargo doors can now be more rigorously opened and closed
- The entire build has been reworked to limit opportunities for misplacing elements
- Astronauts now have wigs in addition to their helmets (1 male, 1 female). Face prints are also different.
- The new set now has 1,230 elements
- New Satellite can be securely positioned on the new mechanical arm
10231 Shuttle Expedition has already gone on sale in LEGOLAND Billund and will soon be available across all LEGO brand retail stores and on LEGO.com.
LEGO Direct Team”
Lego Shuttle Expedition: A Closer Look
The new and improved Lego Shuttle Expedition set looks just the same as the old one, the vast majority of changes are internal, to strengthen the model.
The more sturdier model is awesome for kids (and adults) interested in the space program. Even with the decommissioning of the space shuttle, it will be a while before NASA’s replacement comes on board so kids who have grown up with the iconic ship can re-create space exploration and learn about what it takes to get a vehicle this size into space.
The Lego ship stands 17.5″ (44cm) tall and 10″ (25.5cm) wide from wing tip to wing tip.
Along with the shuttle itself, known as the orbiter, the set comes with three fuel boosters, which together with the orbiter are known as the “stack”.
The two white solid rocket boosters (SRBs) cannot be extinguished once ignited, and allow the ship and it’s cargo to defy gravity and leave the Earth. These SRBs are jettisoned soon after launch and float back to the Earth to be reused.
The large orange external fuel tank is also a major part of the set and is also jettisoned but at a much higher altitute, buring up as it re-enter’s Earth’s atmosphere. It contains liquid fuel which is used by the orbiter and it’s main engines to supplement the thrust created by the SRBs.
The three fuel tanks attach separately to the orbiter for launch but can be detached easily if you want to recreate an authentic launch sequence (just don’t drop them on a hard floor as they will “explode”).
The set also comes with a bare-bones launch pad, none of the huge launch towers and gantries that pull away from the real shuttle just before launch.
While a more detailed launch area would have been awesome, I can understand why Lego didn’t include one to keep piece count and price down. It also provides kids with the creative opportunity to design and build an essential part of the shuttle launch program for themselves.
With Lego it is often what is left out of a set, as much as what is included in a set, that enables creativity.
A ground crew worker is equipped with a small ground maintenance vehicle to ensure everything is “Go For Launch”.
Orbiter and Satellite
The orbiter (the ship most commonly know as “the shuttle”) is a beautiful vehicle and contains a number of features that the actual shuttle is known for.
Most significant of these is opening cargo area (known as the payload) with a moveable boom for working on, capturing and releasing objects in space.
The boom latches onto a satellite and both fold up to fit inside the cargo area when closed while the satellite also has an unfolding antenna and solar cell panels.
The orbiter seats the two astronauts in the command module at the front and they can sit side by side (just).
Other interesting features of the ship include realistic engines at the back which move around to allow the orbiter to maneuver through both the launch process and in space and also retractable landing gear which is an ingenious design for a Lego model.
Lego Shuttle Expedition: Review
Our Recommendation: Highly Recommended (Editor’s Choice-2011)
The space shuttle has been a part of my life since I was a little girl and it is symbolic to me of human-kind’s creativity, ingenuity and desire to explore and look at the universe with wonder.
When I initially read of Lego’s desire to commemorate 35 years of Space Shuttle service with a special set, the Lego company went up in my esteem even further than the lofty heights in which I already hold it.
Needless to say this set was high on my list of “Must-Get” sets and I was not disappointed.
It is a beautiful display piece, a wonderful toy for kids to play with and a talking point to further education about space exploration.
The Lego Shuttle expedition will stay a part of my family for many, many years.
A definite must buy for families!
The Lego Shuttle Expedition is an exclusive set through the Lego Shop.
Lego Space Shuttle Expedition Gallery
Lego Space Shuttle Expedition Video
This video was released for the original set (Adventure) but many similarities remain with the Lego Space Shuttle Expedition set.