The LEGO Mindstorms Space Shuttle has been busy! With its recent travels all over the US, from St. Louis, to Chicago, to NASA Langley and Kennedy, this model is in need of some upgrades and repair. Since the next big event for the model is NIWeek (August 2-4) in Austin, Texas I have been working to make some of the functions more fluid. As you can see from the picture, the shuttle is in a lot of pieces. However, the missing wing and rudder are actually normal. (For transport the port wing and tail/rudder are removed so it can fit in its box.)
My latest upgrade is adding some more torque to the cargo bay doors so they can close from any angle. Many of us forget that much of physical actions we see the space shuttle do in space cannot be reproduced in the gravity of Earth. Even with LEGO, this model pushes the limits of what is actually possible. The image also gives you a rather good look at what is actually going on inside the nose. Many people dont see the mechanical drive behind each function. For your reference, the motor that is parallel to your line of sight drives the port cargo bay door, the motor horizontal in the image drives the starboard cargo bay door. The two motors that are in the background actually drive the Canadarm. All this fits into the nose of the shuttle and is hidden by the Techinc skin of the model.
Should you be in the Austin area and want to see the model, there is a special “Texas Day” at NIWeek. See ni.com for more information. The next scheduled appearance of shuttle is at Brickworld Fort Wayne in October.