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ISS National Lab mission patch
The latest mission patch for research payloads intended for the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory has a Star Wars theme. (CASIS / Lucasfilm Graphic)

Factual and fictional worlds collide in the latest mission patch associated with the International Space Station’s role as a U.S. national laboratory.

Virtually every element on the patch ties in to the Star Wars saga, including the droids BB-8, K-2SO and Chopper, as well as the Death Star and a patch border shaped like the Millennium Falcon.

The only nod to real-life space exploration is an outline of the International Space Station itself.

The patch, which represents this year’s research payloads for the ISS U.S. National Laboratory, was unveiled today by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, or CASIS, which oversees the space research that’s handled through the national laboratory system.

CASIS worked closely with Lucasfilm, the keeper of the Star Wars flame, which is gearing up to release “Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi” in December.

“This collaboration connects the scientific promise of the International Space Station to the scientific inspiration of the iconic Star Wars franchise,” former NASA astronaut Gregory Johnson, the president and executive director of CASIS, said in a news release.

The design work on the patch was overseen by Lucasfilm creative director Doug Chiang.

“One of the reasons George Lucas created Star Wars was to inspire a sense of romance and adventure of space exploration for a new generation of space explorers,” Chiang said. “The patch design is meant to evoke this same spirit of wonder when Luke Skywalker looked out to the twin suns of Tatooine.”

In collaboration with IBM, Lucasfilm is planning a 10-episode web series titled “Science and Star Wars,” to delve into the science associated with the Star Wars universe. One of the episodes will focus on spaceships, with featured roles given to the International Space Station as well as the astronauts and researchers who make use of the 17-year-old orbital outpost.

CASIS works with commercial ventures, academic institutions, government agencies and nonprofit organizations to facilitate research on the space station.

More than 100 experiments have been sent up to the ISS National Lab so far in 2017. But not one of those experiments has addressed the scientific mysteries of midi-chlorians or Gungan physiology … thank goodness!

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