The second LEGO CUUSOO release, Japanese spacecraft Hayabusa, is now on sale in the Japanese market and available for purchase at CUUSOO STORE Japan for ￥6,615!
For those of you outside Japan, we have a little surprise for you: a limited number of Hayabusa sets will also be available exclusively online via shop.LEGO.com. We’re still finalizing the release date, but couldn’t wait to share the exciting news. The set will be sold online to all 23 countries that shop.LEGO.com services and retail at $49.00 / €49,00. Once we have release dates, we will let you know here.
The original Hayabusa model on LEGO CUUSOO was built by Daisuke Okubo, and achieved 1,000 supporters on the Japanese-only version of LEGO CUUSOO in the spring of 2011. LEGO model designer Melody Louise Caddick designed the final model you see today by refining the concept models that were built based on Daisuke’s original project. The March issue of LEGO fan magazine BrickJournal features an article that interviews both Okubo and Caddick.
Hayabusa (“falcon” in English) is an unmanned spacecraft built by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), designed to travel to a small near-Earth asteroid named Itokawa and return sample material to Earth. Hayabusa’s mission began in 2003 and ended successfully in 2010.
The base of the LEGO model represents the surface of Itokawa, the near-Earth asteroid that Hayabusa was sent to explore. The black tube contacting the asteroid is called the “sampler horn.” Upon contact, Hayabusa fired a bullet through the sampler horn into the asteroid. Since gravity on Ikotawa is less than 1/100,000th that of Earth, fragments floated up into the spacecraft’s sample container and were returned to Earth. The sample material was returned to Earth in the gold-colored re-entry capsule, that descended through the Earth’s atmosphere and was recovered in the south Australian outback at the conclusion of the mission.
The model also features the small gray and blue Minerva mini-lander, intended to hop across the surface of the asteroid and feed back images from it’s camera to the satellite. The actual Minerva was 12cm in diameter and 10cm tall (about the size of a softball).
The Hayabusa model was produced and packed at the LEGO factory in Billund, Denmark in December 2011. Exclusive products like these are packed by hand in a smaller factory, which you can see in the behind-the-scenes video below.