A NASA astronaut on the International Space Station beamed a special "May the Fourth" message to "Star Wars" fans on Earth with some help from the intrepid droid R2-D2.
NASA and Lucasfilms teamed up to produce a 1-minute video in honor of "Star Wars Day" — an unofficial fan holiday honoring the space opera on Sunday (May 4). Each year, "Star Wars" fans celebrate the beloved movie and book franchise on May 4. (That particular day was chosen because "May the Fourth" sounds a lot like "May the force be with you," a famous line from the movie.)
The new video starts by showing R2-D2 rolling through what looks like one of NASA's visitor's centers on Earth. The robot takes in the sights, while chirping in the usual R2-like way. R2 then gets a message asking the droid to help an astronaut on the space station send down a Star Wars Day message to Earth. Apparently, the Empire wants to stop NASA's Rick Mastracchio from sending his May the fourth message. R2-D2 leaps into action, helping Mastracchio beam down his hello to "Star Wars" fans on the planet. [Evolution of 'Star Wars': A Space Opera Timeline (Infographic)]
"Star Wars" has been in the news for other reasons this week as well. Just five days before Star Wars Day, Lucasfilm announced the cast for the first in a new series of "Star Wars" movies directed by J.J. Abrams. "Star Wars: Episode VII," due to hit theaters in December 2015, has a star-studded cast of actors from the original films and other new faces.
Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) are all set to reprise their roles. Adam Driver, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson and Max von Sydow are all joining the cast as well.
"We are so excited to finally share the cast of 'Star Wars: Episode VII,'" Abrams said in a statement announcing the cast. "It is both thrilling and surreal to watch the beloved original cast and these brilliant new performers come together to bring this world to life, once again. We start shooting in a couple of weeks, and everyone is doing their best to make the fans proud."
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Miriam Kramer joined Space.com as a Staff Writer in December 2012. Since then, she has floated in weightlessness on a zero-gravity flight, felt the pull of 4-Gs in a trainer aircraft and watched rockets soar into space from Florida and Virginia. She also served as Space.com's lead space entertainment reporter, and enjoys all aspects of space news, astronomy and commercial spaceflight. Miriam has also presented space stories during live interviews with Fox News and other TV and radio outlets. She originally hails from Knoxville, Tennessee where she and her family would take trips to dark spots on the outskirts of town to watch meteor showers every year. She loves to travel and one day hopes to see the northern lights in person. Miriam is currently a space reporter with Axios, writing the Axios Space newsletter. You can follow Miriam on Twitter.