The IDEAS International Space Station (21321) comes with a miniature model of a space shuttle. And while that has its place on the space station's stand, the official LEGO product page literally includes the statement "dock the shuttle" with a picture (that's also on the box) of the space shuttle approaching the front of the ISS model in order to dock. It seems to be a genuine "play feature":

enter image description here

But I have no idea how the shuttle is supposed to actually dock, i.e. how to fixate it onto the docking module in a stable and permanent way, given that it has studs facing each other. Besides this picture there is no hint on how to do that and the instructions don't include guides for that either. I also thought maybe it's the other way around (although that would possibly contradict physical reality), but the bottom of the shuttle is covered in float tiles.

So is there a way to actually dock the space shuttle to the ISS? Is there an official build way that the instruction is just coy of mentioning? Does that possibly involve the hinged parts with the airlock prints on them that are right next to the supposed shuttle dock? Or are there any "inofficial" ideas on how to accomplish it, possibly involving additional parts?

I know there are concerns about the space shuttle being a bit out of scale for the ISS when measured against reality and that a custom bigger shuttle might be more appropriate anyway. However, I still wonder how to dock the officially included shuttle model.

  • Can you please point out where the dock is?? I don't see it anywhere in the image. May 17 '20 at 11:30
  • @mindstormsboi I thought it's supposed to be the little black fez piece that's sticking out on the front of the ISS and that the shuttle is approaching. But I guess the exact specification of where it's supposed to dock is ultimately part of the question.
    – Rauy
    May 17 '20 at 11:48
  • Perhaps you can use a photo editor (such as the built-in snip&sketch software on windows 10) to circle the place you're talking about; I don't understand what you mean by "fez piece." May 17 '20 at 12:30
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    @mindstormsboi: “Fez piece” is a very common description of the black piece that in the above picture is situated just above the shuttle cargo bay on the ISS itself. Even Bricklink calls it Fez: bricklink.com/v2/catalog/…. I see no reason for the OP to point that out more specifically.
    – Phil B.
    May 17 '20 at 13:04

It looks like LEGO did not intend to make Shuttle attachable to ISS despite the statement. At least not with a stud-on-stud connection like the set is designed right now.

As seen in picture below, Shuttle is docked using a connection port inside storage bay with its doors open. Not sure if it is possible to replicate opened doors in scale Shuttle and ISS are built.

enter image description here

However if you neglect the lack of this feature and accept the docking with storage bay doors closed a little modification could solve the issue. Existing Fez piece attached to ISS isn't deep enough to accept Tile, Round 1 x 1 with Bar and Pin Holder (to invert stud to anti-stud) so an addition of Plate, Round 1 x 1 with Open Stud aka "Apollo stud" in between both of them will help modifying the docking port.

enter image description here

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    This design with its corrugated appeal also fits quite well visually. I just tried it and although it's not the most robust, it seems more stable than I would have expected and sufficient enough to hold the shuttle in place.
    – Rauy
    May 17 '20 at 15:42
  • I still find it odd that LEGO didn't include an official way to achieve it, given that they explicitly advertize shuttle docking as a play feature and given how the other satelites and modules can be attached to the station somehow.
    – Rauy
    May 17 '20 at 17:53
  • @ChristianRau This isn't something we could answer I'm afraid. It is advised to share such concern directly with LEGO support services over phone or website
    – Alex
    May 17 '20 at 18:37
  • I don't see how this is a question worth asking the LEGO support services or how they could or would give any reasonable insights into the design decisions there.
    – Rauy
    Sep 4 '20 at 14:33
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    @ChristianRau Obviously, LEGO Customer Support won't be able to provide details as to why such feature is missing, however same channel is used to collect feedback as well.
    – Alex
    Sep 4 '20 at 15:44

It just so happens that I have this set and have come up with a way to attach it without adding pieces:

All this requires is to move the two second-to-back float pads, take off the fez piece from the dock, attach it in the revealed anti stud on the bottom of the shuttle and put the fez piece back on, with the shuttle on top.

I know it's not realistic because it's literally put on backwards to the way it is in real life and intended by NASA, but that's just my little way of docking the shuttle.

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