LEGO® Set Review: 6339 Shuttle Launch Pad
Town System / Launch Command
Shuttle Launch Pad (us)
Rampe de lancement de la navette (fr)
Plataforma de Lanzamiento del Transbordador (es)
Space Center (de)
Ages 8-12 / 536 Pcs
48 page manual, 1 model: shuttle orbiter, tank, solid-fuel boosters, launch pad.
Price Range: US $47.98 at Service Merchandise, 20% off (per piece: 8.95 cents)
Special Features / Compatibility
None, except for a lot of good design ideas
- 1 half-peg
- 3 1x1 round plates (white, yellow, clear-red)
Scale: Mini-Figure scale, fits well into any Town which needs a spaceport.
This set fits into a Town setting better than the current Space themes, mainly because the color scheme is unique. It appears from the included catalog that the whole Launch Command theme goes together well with few duplications; for example, the shuttles in 6339 and 6544 have different fuselage numbers. As for me, I have a whole new theme to start collecting.
A white one-person shuttle, white with black heat shield. Cargo bay holds one satellite and robot arm. Gray external tank, white boosters.
Launch pad is built on two baseplates: one full (city) size, green with straight gray roadway; the other half-size, rectangular, and all green. Includes a tall (about 25 bricks high) red gantry with a crane on top for lifting the components and a rig at its base for supporting the tank/booster combination. Both crane and rig move forward and back on rails. The pad itself is mostly gray, and rolls on wheels along the roadway. Also included: a small gray blockhouse for mission control, one "apollo" spaceman (white
spacesuit, gold visor), one scientist (glasses, tie and security pass), and two technicians (blue jumpsuits, red caps).
Only the main model is supplied in the instructions. Lower age bracket (8 yrs) seems about right, upper age cutoff never is :).
I bought this set yesterday (can't resist a 20% sale!) and spent about four hours assembling it. Of course, a lot of this time was spent moving the workers around, running tests of the main engines and solid boosters, training the astronaut, and so on. My only desire to rush was that STS-63/Discovery was scheduled to launch at 12:45 am and I had to be ready to "play along at home."
I was all set for a picture-perfect launch-: no weather criteria constraints, all systems go, no unauthorized airspace violations, the giant
cats had been cleared from the landing field ;), all systems were go.
Launch went smoothly and on time... a thunderous roar, a pillar of clouds, and the first flight of the LEGO Shuttle was on its way... one booster was nearly lost to an act of cat following its fall into the ocean, but the recovery crew (formerly Fire Rescue) was able to scare her off... flawless MECO, tank jettison, and orbital insertion burn....
On orbit, the robot arm unfolded neatly to deploy the satellite... the arm reminds me of the stormtroopers from Star Wars, white tubes attached to black joints. Then the pilot exited the cockpit (the windshield and roof come off easily for access), donned his life support tanks (stored in the cargo bay because the cockpit is too cramped), and took a leisurely EVA. I stood him on the end of the robot arm, high above the cargo bay, and knew immediately that I would have to build a Hubble space telescope for him to work on. Later, of course, a space station. (Hey, LEGO, here's an idea for '96!)
De-orbit burn and reentry went fine, and the shuttle came gently down to land on the pink sand of a desert runway (no one seemed to mind the sand was the same ugly pink color as the ocean the boosters landed in). Now I'll have to go out and buy the Carrier Aircraft to get the shuttle back home, though I think the people of Legoland would be smart enough to always land near the launch site, not in a desert on the other side of a continent.
And of course, after this perfect flight, CNN comes on to tell me the Discovery launch was scrubbed due to a faulty navigation unit. It got me to thinking about the ways in which the LEGO Shuttle System is superior to NASA's....
On the other hand...
- A one-person craft has less space taken up by life support systems, leaving more for cargo.
- The heat shield is one piece (not counting the nose), not 30,000+ hand-applied tiles.
- It is built from at least 90% previously available parts—the NASA shuttle is over 90% newly-designed parts.
- The Vehicle Assembly Building and Launch Pad are combined, so no 8-hour drives balancing a fully-assembled vehicle on top of a fancy tractor.
- A launch only requires a support crew of three.
- The boosters are made up of individual cylinders stacked together, a design which partially contributed to the Challenger accident.
- Like the NASA Shuttle, without a space station the LEGO shuttle is a transport without a destination.
Set Rating:Must-Have This set is very well designed and is fun enough to make me want to collect the entire Launch Command theme. Most of the elements are standard, with few specialized parts. The color scheme, lots of bright clean white with red-white-and-blue pinstriping, and shiny gold astronaut’s sunvisor lead me to believe the LEGO Space Agency is a highly efficient and productive operation.
Model Rating:Very-Good Having seen NASA’s shuttle so many times, this model seems a little strange to me because the external tank is smaller than the orbiter. However, the main parts of the tank (tall 4x4 half-round cylinders) are spacious enough that my first experiment will be to place a satellite inside the top of the tank, converting the tank and boosters into an expendable launch vehicle.
Playability Rating:Excellent The instruction book includes two pages of 10 steps showing how the gantry is used to hoist and assemble the different parts. The steps are important because the orbiter must be set on the launch pad before the external tank is attached. I suspect the gantry and pad are designed this way to prevent the crane from lifting the entire vehicle at once.
The gold visor of the spaceman fits and closes much better than does the same figure from #6516 Moon Walker (but the one in #6544 Shuttle Transcon 2 has the same problem, so maybe it depends on the spaceman you get).
The gantry parts provide some excellent building blocks, especially the 1x2x5 columns.
The orbiter’s wheels are out during launch and, assumably, reentry. The connection to the external tank is by two pegs connected to a black sleeve (like the white sleeves in the robot arm), so I removed the wheels and two peg-and-coupler combinations. Now the orbiter fits flush to the external tank, and still fits the pad. Later I just add the wheels for landing.
The cockpit and cargo bay are separated by a one-brick-thick bulkhead which is free-standing. It tends to move out of place during play.
The satellite's solar panel decals are strange, I would have preferred simple black plates or tiles to silver decals on white.
Tool set (screwdriver, wrenches, drill, hammer, oilcan) on round sprue
3 figures (scientist, technician, astronaut)
Shuttle tail fin
red girder, slanted, 2x4 base, 2x2 top, 5 bricks high
1x2 gray tile printed with a keyboard (keyboard is missing W,T,D and L keys)
2x2 slanted block with printed radar screen and displays
One-piece wing plates (one in black, one in white), which form the entire bottom of the orbiter except the nose.
Shuttle tail fin, which doesn’t look like anything but a tail fin.
Robot arm is made up of two- and three-prong black "knuckles" with pegs, which connect to 2-peg-long white cylindrical sleeves. The arm is very well articulated.
Gantry posts are 1x2 red bricks, 5 bricks tall. 24 are included.
Rail pieces for crane seem familiar, though I didn't have any before. These consist of 1xX gray plates with a sideways-T-shaped rail on one long edge; and 1x4 red bricks which look like square C's from one end to hold the rail.
Long red cross-ties with holes at each end to fit connector pegs, to stiffen the gantry structure.
Large Launch Command sign, covers 3 stacked 1x6 blocks
Numbers (1,2,3) and LC logo for external tank "stages"
LC logo and stripes for sides of shuttle, cover 2 of 3 cargo door pieces
2 small silver reflectors for the solar panels on the satellite
Heads-up displays for the large windows of the blockhouse
Age (at review)
Favorite Product Lines/Themes
Kevin S. Forsyth
Technic, Pirate, and now LAUNCH COMMAND!
I generally buy System sets as a collector, rather than for parts, though I usually end up jumbling everything from a theme together. My play tends toward setting up dioramas, putting everyone in some pose of activity and leaving them for a while. Technic is purchased more for parts, especially interesting specialized pieces.
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