Lego reveals its Women of NASA series, but ‘hidden figure’ missing

19 Oct 2017

NASA astronaut Mae Jemison waits as her suit technician, Sharon McDougle, performs an unpressurised and pressurised leak check on her spacesuit. Image: NASA

After a long campaign, Lego is to release its Women of NASA set, featuring four of its iconic members – but there’s one noticeable omission.

It has been just over a year since more than 10,000 people backed a Women of NASA Lego set in an online poll, and now they are getting their wish with four new figures designed by Maia Weinstock.

In its announcement, Lego revealed the inspirations behind the new figures: the ‘mother of the Hubble Telescope’, Nancy Grace Roman; Apollo 11 programmer Margaret Hamilton; the first American woman in space, Sally Ride; and the first woman of colour in space, Mae Jemison.

The set will be available from 1 November, with Weinstock saying that she chose the four women based on her three passions: space exploration, the history of women in science and engineering, and Lego-building.

“I thought people might like to build their own display featuring mini-figures of accomplished women in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professions,” she said.

“For the vignettes, I wanted to contextualise each person in terms of her contribution to NASA history.”

Margaret Hamilton

Image: Lego


Image: Lego

Nancy G Roman

Image: Lego

‘They represent real-life women’

Equally pleased with the outcome were Lego designers Gemma Anderson and Marie Sertillanges, who refined the models designed by Weinstock.

“The main challenge in designing the mini-figures and the decorations was that I could not make anything up,” Sertillanges said.

“Every detail was important and needed to match reality, since they represent real-life women. It was beautiful to hear some of the stories behind the scenes, like how Sally’s name tag was changed from ‘Sally Ride’ to just ‘Sally’ at her own request.”

However, for those who have been tracking the progress of the set, it was originally meant to include mathematician Katherine Johnson, who was featured in the film Hidden Figures.

In a statement seen by Gizmodo, Lego said it was not able to receive approval for her inclusion.

“In order for us to move forward with a partner, we need to obtain approval from all key people, which was not possible in this case,” it said. “We, naturally, fully respect this decision.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic