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International Space Station
A minifig scale model of the International Space Station
About this creation
International Space Station


This started out in spring 2003 as a little project that quickly got bigger once I told a friend who invited me to display it at an event in Sheboygan, WI called "Rockets for Schools." My intent became to recreate as accurately as possible the projected design of the International Space Station. The research on this project was a lot of fun, and prompted major redesigns throughout the project as I began to understand how the components fit together.

Much of what is in the model is not actually in space (and some of it will never be). Budget problems have forced a reduction in the planned Russian science modules, and cancellation of a US Habitation module. Also depicted is a CRV (Crew Return Vehicle) which was also cancelled by NASA. Unfortunately, this lack of return / escape capability limits the maximum crew for the ISS -- severly limiting the scientific potential of the station. The grounding of the shuttle fleet after the Columbia disaster has also brought a (temporary) halt to the construction of the ISS. Finally, the new focus for NASA on returning to the Moon in preparation for a Mars mission also includes moving away from the ISS once the core components are in orbit.

Design Notes

One of the major components of the model (the Solar Panels) could not be constructed of LEGO. I tried. It's too heavy. Remember that the real thing is in a microgravity environment. My wife helped me with the final solution, which was to take fine mesh fabric and glue it to blue posterboard. The weight factor was much reduced, and helped relieve a major stress on the model. Too bad LEGO couldn't custom make me some panels out of that blue plastic stuff on the Mars Rover!

If you would like more detail:

Pictures of the individual modules

Pictures of the assembly sequence

Enlarge image
   Mike Foreman, a NASA Astronaut who is supposed to be on the STS mission 120, flying the "Node 2" module to the ISS once the shuttle returns to flight status, was kind enough to let me have my picture taken with him.

Enlarge image
   The ISS on display

Enlarge image
   closeup of the Crew Return Vehicle, docked to a Pressurized Mating Adapter (the red thing), which is attached to the Node 2 Module, the Japanese Experiment Module (right), and the ESA Columbus module (top center)

Enlarge image
   the midsection of the ISS, with a "Soyuz" capsule at the extreme bottom of the picture.

Enlarge image
   looking lengthwise down the ISS, the Russian Zvezda module is at the center bottom of the picture.


 I like it 
  September 9, 2014
 I like it 
  October 1, 2010
OH MY GOD!!!! This looks like the real thing (In LEGO form!)
 I like it 
  May 25, 2010
i don't know what to say its the best iss i've ever seen good job
Brian Hastings
 I like it 
bradley b
  February 28, 2010
can you show me how to make the solar arays? im makeing a mini fig mir.anyway, that is AWSOME!!!!!
 I made it 
  February 28, 2010
Quoting bradley b can you show me how to make the solar arays? im makeing a mini fig mir.anyway, that is AWSOME!!!!!
Hi Bradley, thanks! -- the basic idea is to build the center spar and the ends of the solar panels out of lego, and to use paper for the panels themselves -- even a single layer of lego plate becomes far too heavy at minifig scale. You can keep it basic and use a single color of paper or find a solar panel "pattern" and print it out. Good luck! (notice that I used a different technique with the other ISS version I did)
 I like it 
  January 8, 2010
That is very good! I really like it!
 I like it 
  May 17, 2009
Very nice! You know lego did make solar panels, they came with one of the older varieties of mars mission. Look them up, but there likely won't be any left in Bricklink etc.
 I like it 
  February 15, 2008
bring me to the Hospital my jaw fell off!!!!!
 I like it 
  November 10, 2007
hi this very cool i was wondering if i could get blueprints for it? AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!
 I like it 
  November 18, 2004
WOW!!! Awesome!! It's kind of lumpy and the colors are not accurate, but your model puts lego's model to shame! Minifig-scale! Wow! I'm really glad to see you included the Soyuz (see mine). After I ordered my model of the ISS, when it came, I was really mad that there wasn't a Soyuz, so I had to make one. (Will put up here soon as an moc). Yes that would be cool to have lego custom make solar panels (but i'm afraid... dream on). One question: Did you include Canada Arm? (Robotic arm on the out side made by the CSA (Canadian Space Agency)
By Brian Hastings
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Added February 18, 2004

LEGO models my own creation MOCpages toys shop International Space StationBases & space stations

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