Luke Skywalker’s Lightsaber Has Really Been To Space

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – well, actually it was pretty close by in galactic terms – George Lucas came up with the idea of an epic space-age weapon. He dubbed it the “lightsaber”, and bestowed it upon only his noblest heroes – or his most fearsome villains.

Thirty years later, we had conclusive proof that lightsabers were really out there in the cosmos. How did we know? Because we put it there during a mission back in 2007.

“I think it’s a neat link because it combines two space themes all at one time,” said Jim Reilly, a now-retired NASA astronaut and veteran of three missions and eight spacewalks, at the time

“There’s a kind of a fine line between science fiction and reality as far as what we do,” he said, “and it’s only just time really because a lot of what we’re doing right now was science fiction when I was growing up.”

It was far from the first time astronauts had smuggled novelty or contraband items off-world with them. Way back in 1969, mere months after the first moon landings, American sculptor Forrest Myers teamed up with a handful of contemporary artists to create the Moon Museum, a tiny and vaguely obscene collection of scribblings that was secretly attached to the Apollo 12 spacecraft and – we can only assume – still sits on the lunar surface today. 

Eight years after that, Voyager 1 and 2 launched with their Golden Records on board – two 30-centimeter (12-inch) golden disks, containing 115 images, 90 minutes of music, greetings in 55 languages, and a selection of “sounds of Earth”.

    

In fact, it’s not even the first time something Star Wars-related has made it into space. Many astronauts have snuck “toy mementos, things like a Star Wars toy that might have meant something in their life” on board various spacecraft over the decades, Reilly admitted, “so there are any number of things that might be just a little out of the ordinary.”

As for the lightsaber, the now-famous weapon – originally one of many, cobbled together from knickknacks found in the prop department and a whole lot of superglue – spent a total of 14 days in orbit, onboard mission STS-120. Leaving Earth on October 23, 2007, it spent the trip safely packed in foam inside an inaccessible compartment in the Discovery Space Shuttle, which, we’ve gotta say, is probably the least Star Wars-y way to launch a lightsaber into space.

The lightsaber was successfully returned to George Lucas after the mission ended, safe and sound and unused against any Sith Lords. We only pity the poor pizza delivery guy who has to deliver to Darth Vader… 

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