Today’s news cycle may have been dominated by the official announcement of Star Wars: Episode VII’s cast, but I’d hate to let any smaller stories fall into the cracks. Like, how a NASA astronaut decided to send out a celebratory video in anticipation of May the Fourth — Star Wars Day!
Yes, ISS flight engineer Rick Mastracchio figured the perfect way to celebrate Star Wars day was to beam a special message down from the ISS while hanging weightlessly in the way all us jealous landlubbers wish we could. But wait! The communications array is failing! Thankfully R2-D2 just happened to be hanging around NASA, so he just hopped a right on a conveniently timed launch, zipped up to the ISS, and saved the day. Thanks, little buddy!
The video is a cute way to honor a science fiction franchise that probably inspired quite a few NASA members to begin pursuing careers in science, engineering, or math. The fact that that inspiration (along with some from that other space franchise) eventually led some of them to be in a position to beam a message back from outer freaking space is pretty damn cool, and would no doubt have blown the minds of their younger selves.
Mastracchio joined NASA in 1990 and began astronaut training in 1996. He eventually flew on three Space Shuttle Missions: STS-106 in 2000 aboard Atlantis, STS-118 in 2007 aboard the Endeavour, and STS-131 in 2010 aboard the Discovery. He’s currently a flight engineer with ISS Expedition 39, where he’s working to repair the station’s main cooling system. He’s got nearly 300 hours of experience in space, which is approximately 300 hours more than any of the people I polled here in this building. (That would be me and three dogs, admittedly.)
You can follow Mastracchio on Twitter, where he posts stuff like this: