5 pioneering women of NASA will become a Lego set

It started as a submitted fan idea – and now the Women of NASA set will be a reality.
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Very soon, kids everywhere will be able to play Lego with a little Margaret Hamilton, Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman, and Mae Jemison – five women integral to helping NASA pioneer space exploration.

Lego announced this week the Women of NASA set idea, submitted by MIT News Deputy Editor Maia Weinstock, was approved and will be designed, created, and sold. You can see an album of concept photos here.

It happened because of the Lego Ideas initiative. You go to the site and submit an idea. Then if it gets enough community support, Lego will review it – and select ideas will become actual Lego products, with the designer who submitted it giving input to Lego during the process.

Weinstock submitted her Women of NASA set idea in the summer of 2016. It reached 10,000 supporters (the Lego review threshold) in early August.

And on Feb. 28, Lego announced the set will go into production. The exact release date, final product design and pricing aren't known yet.

Weinstock on Twitter called it a "dream come true." And one of the women in the set – astronaut/physician/entrepreneur Mae Jemison – was also into it.

Weinstock explained why she picked who she did in a blog post, writing: "At the end of the day, while this project features five individuals, the spirit of the Women of NASA set is meant to honor all women who've contributed in some way to the agency's mission of advancing society through space exploration."

Lego took heat a few years ago after a 7-year-old's letter about the lack of female adventurers went viral. Lego responded by creating an all-female set with a paleontologist, astronomer and chemist.

Here's a more detailed look at each of the five women in the NASA set, as written by Weinstock.

Margaret Hamilton – computer scientist: While working at MIT under contract with NASA in the 1960s, Hamilton developed the on-board flight software for the Apollo missions to the moon. She is known for popularizing the modern concept of software.

Katherine Johnson – mathematician and space scientist: A longtime NASA researcher, Johnson is best known for calculating and verifying trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs — including the Apollo 11 mission that first landed humans on the moon. (She's the character played by Taraji P. Henson in Hidden Figures.)

Sally Ride – astronaut, physicist, and educator: A physicist by training, Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. After retiring as a NASA astronaut, she founded an educational company focusing on encouraging children — especially girls — to pursue the sciences.

Nancy Grace Roman – astronomer: One of the first female executives at NASA, Roman is known to many as the "Mother of Hubble" for her role in planning the Hubble Space Telescope. She also developed NASA's astronomy research program.

Mae Jemison – astronaut, physician, and entrepreneur: Trained as a medical doctor, Jemison became the first African-American woman in space in 1992. After retiring from NASA, Jemison established a company that develops new technologies and encourages students in the sciences.

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