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NASA recently published the third edition of its software catalog free to the public; LEGO announces a Women of NASA play set. The future of LEGO includes women of NASA (Photo via LEGO)


In recent years NASA has been shedding its image of a stuffy, restricted institution to becoming the cool space nerd on the block. To be more open to the public, albeit slightly, NASA recently published its 2017-2018 catalog which includes a portfolio of software products used for different technical applications free to the public with no royalty or copyright fees. It’s NASA’s way of offering support to aerospace professionals, students, and small businesses alike. They believe by having access to the software, it could lead to “Tangible benefits” that can “create American jobs, earn revenue, and save lives.”


This isn’t the first time NASA has offered its catalog to the public. They published the first edition in 2014 and have been sharing its software programs since. Some of the software included in the catalog have codes for more advanced drones and quiet aircraft. Keep in mind, some codes do have access restrictions, but NASA is working to keep the catalog up to date. You can get the third edition of this catalog in both hard copy and digital editions.


In other NASA news, toy giant Lego announced a new spaced inspired set featuring prominent NASA female figures. MIT News editor Maia Weinstock created the Women of NASA set. She submitted the idea to a LEGO competition and earned 10,000 votes needed for the company to consider it. Now, the idea is set to become a reality. While the toy giant is currently working on the set, they revealed the women who will be replicated in brick form:


Katherine Johnson – a black physicist and mathematician who manually calculated trajectories and launch windows for early NASA mission, including the Apollo 11 flight to the moon in 1969. Johnson was recently portrayed by Taraji P Henson in the film Hidden Figures. See my review of Hidden Figures, here.


Sally Ride – a physics professor who became the first American woman in space and the third woman overall. She still remains the youngest American astronaut to travel space at 32.


Margaret Hamilton – a computer scientist who created the on-board flight software used for Apollo missions to the moon.


Nancy Grace Roman – one of NASA first female executives who worked on the Hubble telescope and developed NASA’s astronomy research program. Her work has earned her the nickname Mother of Hubble.


Mae Jemison – an astronaut who became the first black woman to travel to space and orbit the planet.


Weinstein and LEGO hope the set will inspire and encourage young girls interested in the STEM field. It also marks an important part of women’s history that is often overshadowed.


Right now there’s no release date or tentative price for the new set. Lego is still working on the final design and hopes to have it out by late 2017/early 2018. How do NASA and LEGO manage to get cooler every day?


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