Chewie Hands off Lightsaber to NASA Team | August 28, 2007

Luke Skywalker’s original Jedi lightsaber film prop from Return of the Jedi makes its way into space (for real) with NASA astronauts on the space shuttle Discovery in October. To commemorate the historic event, Star Wars characters visited the Oakland International Airport where Chewbacca handed the lightsaber over to NASA’s Space Center Houston during a special ceremony on Aug. 28, 2007.

Arriving by Escalade and Hummer stretch limos (the Falcon‘s in the shop) Boba Fett, Jango Fett, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, X-Wing pilots, Jedi and stormtroopers (from the Golden Gate Garrison of the 501st Legion) accompanied Chewie for the fun-filled press event which took quite a few travelers and tourists in baggage claim by surprise. NASA’s Space Center Houston Director of Marketing Roger Bornstein greeted the intergalactic guests and warmly thanked everyone’s favorite Wookiee for bringing him Luke’s lightsaber.

“On behalf of NASA’s Space Center Houston, we’re proud to take temporary possession of this great American movie icon, Luke Skywalker’s original Jedi lightsaber,” Bornstein says. “It’ll be trusted into the care of Southwest Airlines and transported to Space Center Houston where it will be held in inventory on the Space Shuttle Discovery STS-120. During the launch scheduled on Oct. 23, 2007, Luke’s original Jedi lightsaber will take its rightful place in space for a mission to the international space station.”

“When the mission is complete and the Jedi lightsaber has traveled almost six million miles it will then be on display at the Space Center Houston and later returned to Lucasfilm,” Bornstein continues. “To paraphrase the famous Han Solo, ‘We’re all clear kids, now let’s load this thing and go home.’” (He was paraphrasing and using his own words so it made since to LOAD the plane with the lightsaber, not BLOW it up.)

To send off the spectacular departure of the lightsaber aboard its Southwest Airlines flight, Chewbacca helped push back the airplane on the tarmac, with his friends, bounty hunters and stormtroopers looking on. The group waved goodbye as the plane set course for Houston.

Once the flight lands in Houston, stormtroopers (from the Star Garrison of the 501st Legion) will escort the lightsaber off the plane as R2-D2 (from the R2 Builders Group) and other Star Wars characters (from Rebel Legion) kick-off the second half of the celebration in William P. Hobby Airport. The fanfare concludes outside baggage claim where the lightsaber is transported via Hummer with an official City of Webster police escort to NASA’s Space Center Houston where it will be on display through September 4, 2007.

Be sure to check out our Official Star Wars Flickr Blog for our photos from the event complete with Rebel pilots mingling with Southwest Airlines pilots, Chewie on the tarmac, and stormtroopers helping with security.

Stay tuned to the Official Star Wars Blog for more on the special event.

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