From the press release from Spotlight Communications:
As Star Wars celebrates its 30th Anniversary, Luke Skywalker’s original Jedi lightsaber will head into space with NASA astronauts on the space shuttle DISCOVERY in October. Chewbacca will officially hand the lightsaber over to NASA’s Space Center Houston during a ceremony at the Oakland International Airport. The ceremony will include characters from a galaxy far, far away including Boba Fett, Jango Fett, X-Wing, Jedi, and Stormtroopers. This will be followed by a spectacular departure aboard a Southwest Airlines flight as Chewbacca and his galactic friends help push back the airplane on the tarmac.
Once the flight lands in Houston, Stormtroopers will help escort the lightsaber off the plane as R2-D2 and other famous Star Wars characters kick-off the second half of the celebration at gate # 47 in William P. Hobby Airport. The fanfare will conclude outside baggage claim where the lightsaber will be transported by a caravan of Hummers with an official City of Webster police escort to NASA’s Space Center Houston where it will be secured inside the lunar vault. (until it's trip into space)
The lightsaber departs at 10 a.m. PST from the Oakland Intl Airport on August 28th.
It will arrive at 4:20 pm CST at the Houston Hobby Airport.
Thanks to Julie K. from Spotlight Communications for the press release and to friend of TFN, Bradley R., for the SciFi.com link.
UPDATE: Matthew T. writes in with the following amazing story!
This morning, me, along with 3 members of the Rebel Legion (Endor Base) and 4 from the 501st (Golden Gate Garrison) got to present, along with LFL's Chewbacca, Luke's lightsaber from ROTJ to NASA to be on board space shuttle STS-120, which will launch Oct. 23.
We even signed a note to the astronauts and enclosed our respective patches from the Rebel Legion and the 501st to be given to the astronauts. It was truly an honor to participate in this historic event!
Sounds awesome Matt, thanks for sharing!
UPDATE #2: Check out some pics from Houston below sent to us from friend of TFN, Patrick. Big thanks to him for the pics!
UPDATE #5: See below for the press release from Space Center Houston:
Blast Off! Star Wars Jedi Lightsaber Launches!
"Luke Skywalker's original Jedi lightsaber, the famous movie prop from the Star Wars saga is now aboard space shuttle Discovery as it embarks on an historic mission!
Launched moments ago from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the Jedi lightsaber has been carefully stowed away in the cargo hold and has begun it's journey to the International Space Station before returning to Earth in 14 days to mark the legendary film's 30 th anniversary.
The Jedi lightsaber, which appeared in Return of the Jedi, will also make its way back to NASA's Space Center Houston once Discovery returns to Earth. "The Jedi lightsaber will have traveled more than six million miles in space after this mission," says Roger Bornstein, Marketing Director for Space Center Houston. "And we'll have the honor of displaying this flown movie artifact once it returns." The Jedi lightsaber will be part of a new exhibit at Space Center Houston that will showcase a collection of famous Star Wars movie props and a full-size X-wing starfighter through Jan. 1.
Lucasfilm officially handed the Jedi lightsaber to Space Center Houston on August 28 during a ceremony at the Oakland International Airport and was flown to Houston and received a warm welcome from Star Wars characters including Chewbacca, Boba Fett and Jedi Knights stormtroopers, R2-D2 and C-3PO who were surrounded by a large group of Star Wars fans. The Jedi lightsaber was taken by police escort to Space Center Houston before making its way to Florida and secured about space shuttle Discovery.
UPDATE #6: Not noted in the release above is the time of lift-off. According to numerous sources (click here for an article at CNN.com), the space Shuttle Discovery took off at 11:38 a.m. today. Do I really need to rattle off the significance of that number? We're all on the same page giving imaginary "hi fives" to each other, right?
Thanks to Alex S. and Brad G. for the heads up.
UPDATE #7:Click here and leave a message for the 7 astronaughts who are escorting Lukes lightsaber aboard the Discovery over at spacecenter.org. According to the site: "Your message to the space shuttle crew will be collected online and placed onto a CD, which will be presented to the astronauts at the official public debriefing at NASA's Space Center Houston after their return."
Thanks to "Captain Sith Park" for the link.
UPDATE #8: Friend of TFN, Robert P., from collectSPACE.com sent in the following:
"A brief update, if of interest: now that the lightsaber is in space, we have published the complete manifest and interviews with the shuttle crew about the other commemorative items on-board Discovery. The article includes a quote from George Lucas regarding the lightsaber:
Lightsaber leads list of mission mementos The STS-120 crew chooses contents of Official Flight Kit
Many know about the Star Wars lightsaber stashed on Discovery for the STS-120 mission (though they may not know of George Lucas' safety tip to the crew) but what of the other mementos that are packed in the Official Flight Kit (OFK), in the personal preference kits and flight data file slots? For example, do they know about the Panama Canal medals, Beethoven's sheet music or the baseball card for a boyhood hero? The crew of STS-120 spoke to collectSPACE about their own selections for the souvenirs they have for their supporters."