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The first movie of the blockbuster franchise, retroactively titled as Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, exploded into the movie theatres in 1977. It became a global cultural phenomenon and gave birth to a pop-culture empire, which included sequels, prequels, books, comics, games, TV series and even radio shows.
The franchise also affected real-world space technology in numerous ways.
The Star Wars story is a classic Hero’s Journey, in which the protagonist, Luke Skywalker in a galaxy, far, far away, learns that he is able to harness a certain force. He eventually joins the rebellion against the Galactic Empire, and along with his allies, destroys the Death Star, uniting with his father, who had fallen on the dark side.
The original story and its continuation in the two sequels released in the 80s had limited computer graphics technology, which eventually became better in the 90s. The Director, George Lucas, then released three ‘prequels’ which had better technology and visual effects, though the story wasn’t in the same league.
In 2012, the world was gifted with a set of further sequels by Disney, which took over the franchise. It released three Star Wars movies between 2015 and 2019, which followed the adventures of a female protagonist, Rey, a scavenger who trains to use the force and goes through a similar journey.
Pop culture is saturated with ‘Star Wars’ references, and many words, phrases, and ideas have entered the domain of Science and Technology.
The Strategic Defence Initiative, proposed by Ronald Reagan in the 80s, was referred to as ‘Star Wars’ as it was about shooting through space lasers, beams and missiles to deter any nuclear attack. This plan was eventually scrapped after USD 30 billion was spent on it.
In 2007, the Discovery shuttle launched into space the ‘Lightsaber’, a Star Wars weapon resembling a Tubelight, to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the first movie.
The close-up images of Saturn's moon Mimas, released by NASA resembled the shape of the Death Star. They also mentioned ‘The Force’ while talking about another moon of Saturn, Lapetus.
The solar panels in some of NASA’s spacecraft are a direct inspiration from Star Wars.
The same inspiration is seen laser tech, prominently showcased in the movie franchise's combat scenes, being used by NASA for high-speed communication, and transferring large amounts of data.
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The International Space Center circles the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of 17,500 mph. It flies at an altitude of 248 miles above Earth.
It holds a crew of three to six people, and for a long time, used the Russian Soyuz spacecraft as a way to transport astronauts. SpaceX has sent 2 more astronauts in May 2020, using their Special Dragon Spacecraft, courtesy Elon Musk.
Astronauts mainly perform experiments and do maintenance at the ISS. They also do some personal care and exercise, reach out to Earth to conduct some media or school events, and occasionally perform spacewalks. They also use a bit of Twitter.
Human health research, especially eye problems are a major activity. Biological activities, animal tests and testing of appliances in space is also done.
Newton’s Third Law Of Motion, which states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction is the heart of rocket science.
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The thrust required for an object to overcome Earth’s gravity and atmospheric resistance and move towards space is called escape velocity. Besides Earth, the gravitational forces that can affect the object are those coming from the sun, moon and even other planets.
Apart from space vehicles and the military, rockets are used in life-saving rescue flares and fireworks, and even the ejector seats in military planes.