'Star Wars' Fans Feel the Need for Real Hyperspeed

Die-hard"Star Wars" fans have visited the imaginary worlds of Hoth andTatooine countless times in the sci-fi films, and now they want NASA's help todo some real intergalactic exploring.

Atthe StarWars Celebration V convention in Florida over the weekend,"Star Wars" filmmakers and fans asked NASA representatives to developa hyperdrive that can transport astronauts through space at light speed. And tomake it snappy.

Afterall, in the "Star Wars" universe, the technology was developed a longtime ago, in a galaxy far away.

"The idea of spending six months traveling to Mars doesn't seem veryexciting," said Gary Kurtz, producer of the original "Star Wars"in 1977 and its first sequel, "The Empire Strikes Back."

Film stars and fans like the idea of exploring new worlds, the same sentimentthat made them "Star Wars"fans to begin with.

"It's always been a quest of man just to look up at the stars and wonderwhat is beyond that black and blue space," said Anthony Daniels, whoplayed the golden humanoid droid C-3PO in all six "Star Wars" films.

"We need better propulsion systems. Right now I'd say that would be theone invention that would really help us out a lot," said Joseph Tellado, alogistics manager for the International Space Station."It'd be great if our astronauts could go at hyperspeed."

It's hard to say what a real hyperdrive might look like, but NASA has longstudied different ways to move faster around the solar system. Some recentprobes have used exotic propulsion systems, notably the Deep Space 1 and Dawnmissions, which were powered by ion engines.

The inspiration works both ways, with NASA and "Star Wars" inspiringeach other to stretch out and envision the future and then fill in details ofwhat that future might look like.

"For us making 'Star Wars,' we wanted to celebrate space travel,"Kurtz said. "The moon landings, of course, were very important, but Ithink more recently the HubbleSpace Telescope and the space station have been very good keysfor people that this work is very important."

"I believe 'Star Wars' and NASA have a lot in common," Tellado said."We're looking to the future. NASA is like the first stepping stone toultimately get to that 'Star Wars' level."

There are some more down-to-Earth Star Wars technologies that fans also wouldlike to see. Their wish list ranges from a healing substance like the one inwhich Luke Skywalker was immersed to blasters that stun bad guys.

Jeremy Bulloch, who played Boba Fett in "The Empire Strikes Back,"spoke up for the development of one of his character's signature technologies:a personal jetpack.

"If there's a traffic jam, then you'll be able to go over those carsinstead of just driving badly and keep crashing into them," Bulloch said.

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Space.com Staff
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