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Star Wars: History and Legacy on Space Exploration

Droids Of NASA

  • The famous robot of Star Wars, R2-D2 has a real-life counterpart on the International Space Station and is called the Robonaut 2. It does basic flip switching work as of now, but NASA hopes to make it do other complicated (and hazardous) work to free up astronauts.
  • NASA also launched a set of droids specializing in synchronized flying, resembling the Star Wars robots.

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Star Wars: History and Legacy on Space Exploration

Star Wars: History and Legacy on Space Exploration

https://www.space.com/31744-star-wars-space-exploration.html

space.com

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Key Ideas

Star Wars

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 Story Set In Space

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.

Sequels Prequels

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.

The Force Awakens

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.

The Live-Action TV Series

This year, with the launch of the Disney+ streaming service, the fans were treated with Star Wars: The Mandalorian, a live-action television series. Disney has plans to release another series in the same franchise, titled Star Wars: Obi-Wan.

Star Wars In Real Life

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.

NASA and Star Wars

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.

Droids Of NASA

  • The famous robot of Star Wars, R2-D2 has a real-life counterpart on the International Space Station and is called the Robonaut 2. It does basic flip switching work as of now, but NASA hopes to make it do other complicated (and hazardous) work to free up astronauts.
  • NASA also launched a set of droids specializing in synchronized flying, resembling the Star Wars robots.

Robots In Japan

Kirobo, an interactive child-like robot created in Japan, is intended to be a companion for lonely people. C-3PO is another robot that can translate languages and commands.

Other Star Wars Tech

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 Station
The International Space Station

The ISS is a multi-nation super satellite, the largest single construct in space, made between 1998 and 2011.

  • As of 2018, 230 astronauts and 18 countries have visited the Internat...

ISS Journey Around Earth

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.

Activities of ISS

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.

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Influence of Star Wars
Influence of Star Wars

It's been more than 30 years since the first "Star Wars."

The cultural influence of the Star Wars Films, novels, comics, television shows, games, toys, and documentaries has been so great...

New Age thinking
  • During the cold war, Ronald Reagan created the Strategic Defense Initiative and aimed to use ground and space-based weapons to help protect the United States from attack by nuclear missiles. Critics referred to it as "Star Wars."
  • Bionic hands like the ones of the heroes and villains in "Star Wars" are now used by amputees.
  • Weapons and robots from "Star Wars" are becoming a reality.
  • Even the Death Star is starting to appear. A former chief technology officer for Microsoft showed his "Death Star" bug zapper to shoot down mosquitoes in flight.
The Worst Lockdown

A two-week quarantine is nothing new for NASA astronauts who are part of the International Space Station(ISS), as they have to isolate themselves before launch, for a ‘health stabilization’.

Advice From An Astronaut

The astronaut’s advice for people in lockdown, trying to work from home:

  • It helps to have any sort of normal routine, like getting up on time and following the weekdays as before.
  • Keep your mind engaged with positivity and connect with your loved ones as much as possible.
The "overview effect"
The "overview effect"

This state of mental clarity occurs when you view Earth from far away and become overwhelmed and awed by the fragility and unity of life.

One of the astronauts on the Apollo 8 mis...

Gaining perspective

When you are so far away from Earth, you gain a unique perspective. It is the realization that the Earth is one system and that we are all the art of that one system. There is a certain unity and coherence to it all.

The overview effect
The overview effect

Amid the turbulence of the current global situation or any crisis, astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson thinks we could all use the overview effect to put it all back into pe...

Edgar Mitchell
Edgar Mitchell

"You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty."

The need to take action

When you view Earth from space, there are no boundaries. Humankind is one species. But, despite all the remarkable achievements of humankind, we are failing each other.

"May the fourth be with you"
"May the fourth be with you"

"May the fourth be with you" plays on the phrase in Star Wars "may the Force be with you."

"May the fourth be with you" was popularized by Margaret Thatche...

Becoming a slogan

The pun on "May the Force be with you" has been used a number of times over the years.

Once In 2008, a Facebook group celebrated "Luke Skywalker Day" and adopted the May the Fourth slogan. Since then, May 4 has been a regular fandom celebration. In 2013, Disney also joined in the celebration.

The scientific revolution

Human history is often framed as a series of episodes, representing sudden bursts of knowledge. The Agricultural Revolution, the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution are a few examples where ...

Pseudo-Science 

Much of the knowledge about the natural world during the middle ages dates back to the teachings of the Greeks and Romans. Many did not question these ideas, despite the many flaws.

  • Aristotle taught everything beneath the moon was comprised of four elements: earth, air, water, and fire.
  • Greek astronomer Claudius Ptolemy thought that heavenly bodies such as the sun, moon, planets and various stars all revolved around the earth in perfect circles.
  • The ancient Greeks and Romans held to the idea that illnesses were the result of an imbalance of four basic substances and was related to the theory of the four elements.
Rebirth and Reformation
  • During the Renaissance, there was a renewed interest in the arts and literature. It led to a shift toward more independent thinking.
  • In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Roman Catholic Church. Luther promoted his thoughts by printing and distributing them, encouraging churchgoers to read the Bible for themselves. This led to the Protestant Reformation.
  • In the process, the criticism and reform led to placing the burden of proof ahead in understanding the natural world, paving the way for the scientific revolution.

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Strange discovery from early history
Strange discovery from early history

In the Histories by Herodotus (484BC to 425BC), Herodotus recounts the story of Phoenician sailors who were dispatched by King Neco II ofEgypt (about 600BC), to sail clockwise around continental Af...

The planets orbit the Sun

The earliest known heliocentric theory of the solar system came from Aristarchus of Samos (310BC to 230BC). He argued that the Sun was central. He also placed all the then known planets is their correct order of distance around the Sun. His original text was unfortunately lost to history.

Nicolaus Copernicus rediscovered the theory in the 16th century. He acknowledged Aristarchus during the development of his own work.

The size of the Moon

In one of Aristarchus' books that did survive, he laid out the earliest known attempted calculations of the sizes and distances to the Sun and Moon.

From solar eclipses, where the Moon passes in front of the Sun, they realised that the Sun was further away. Aristarchus estimated that the size of the Moon was approximately one-third that of the Earth, based on the careful timing of lunar eclipses. He was surprisingly accurate in determining the ratio of the size of the Earth to the Moon. (the Moon has a diameter 0.27 times that of Earth).

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NASA - planetary science
NASA - planetary science

At the beginning of this year, NASA scientists had to decide which missions should explore our Solar System. They chose four missions for further study from the 20 intriguing ideas submitted. From ...

Emerging technologies for space exploration

Two emerging technologies may propel NASA and the rest of the world into an era of faster, low-cost exploration that would lead to more exploration and democratise access to the Solar System.

  • A new generation of companies is developing new rockets for small satellites. Rocket Lab has a lunar program for its small Electron rocket, and Virgin Orbit with a group of Polish universities is to launch up to three missions to Mars with its LauncherOne vehicle.
  • At the same time, various components of satellites are being miniaturised.
  • Tiny satellites are no longer theoretical. Two years ago, a pair of CubeSats, called MarCO-A and MarCO-B, launched with the InSight mission. The briefcase-sized satellites deployed their own solar arrays and journeyed to Mars.
Small sats in deep space

NASA had several goals with MarCO. The MarCOs proved that small satellites could thrive in deep space and stream data back home.

A few months after their mission ended, the European Space Agency announced that it would send two CubeSats on its "Hera" mission to a binary system.

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