-- A few months ago, in an office not too far away (San Francisco), Doug Chiang and his team were busy designing for the fictional Star Wars universe.
But the Lucasfilm Vice President and Executive Creative Director took time from the space fantasy world to spearhead the design of a new "Star Wars"-themed patch, which is aimed at highlighting research on the very real International Space Station (ISS).
“When we design for 'Star Wars,' we always strive to ground our technology in the real world in order to create an authentic science fantasy that makes science fun,” Chiang tells ABC News. “'Star Wars,' to me, is the dream, and the ISS is the dream realized. I wanted the patch to evoke that spirit and inspire a new generation of scientists.”
The patch is the result of a partnership between Lucasfilm and the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) the nonprofit organization that manages experiments on board the ISS. More than 100 experiments have launched to the ISS in 2017 alone, according to CASIS.
“It helps to bring visibility to the space station and educate people that it’s a working laboratory. And you can do unique research on the station that you just can’t do on the ground,” said Patrick O'Neill, marketing and communications manager for the CASIS/ISS National Laboratory.
The patch, created with the help of the Everly Design Co., is shaped like the “fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy,” the Millennium Falcon. Inside are silhouettes of the ISS, along with droids BB-8, K-2SO, and Chopper, fixed against a sunset meant to evoke the twin suns of Tatooine -- and a certain farm boy.
“To me, that scene was about longing for adventure and hope,” Chiang said. “But instead of Luke, I thought it would be interesting to use three of our newest droids, each one representing the ideas of adventure, science, and hope.“
Finally, that’s no moon. The Death Star looms large in the design. The mashup of space fantasy and real-life space science may seem strange.
“It’s a bit of an odd couple mix,” O’Neill said. “But the other side of the coin is, perhaps watching these types of movies provides inspiration for our thought leaders, our engineers, our scientists, allowing them to think about things in a new manner.”
The ISS and one of its previous occupants, former astronaut Cady Coleman, will be featured in an upcoming episode of a new Lucasfilm web series called “Science and Star Wars," O’Neill said.
Fans won’t be able to buy the Lucasfilm-designed patch, O’Neill says, but CASIS plans to give them away through contests, at launches, and other events.
“We certainly are in a position to go out and print more as demand grows,” said O’Neill.
ABC News and Lucasfilm are both owned by parent company Disney.