It may not be the ship that made the Shell Run in less than 12 parsecs, but a SpaceX "Falcon" launched into space just in time for Star Wars Day.
The Falcon 9 rocket (named by SpaceX boss Elon Musk in honor of the fictional Millennium Falcon of "Star Wars") launched a kite supply ship this morning with NASA cargo from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida was filled. Coincidentally, the mission started on May 4th or May the Fourth, as the fans of the "Star Wars" movie franchise call it.
"May the Fourth be with you," said SpaceX Manufacturing Engineer Jessica Anderson, while signing the agreement's live startup commentary, a recall on the phrase "May the Force be with you" the Jedi in the "Star Wars." "Movies. NASA spokesman Jennifer Wolfinger repeated these words in the space agency's own broadcast.
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SpaceX has developed three types of Falcon missiles over the years: the small Falcon 1, the Falcon 9 workhorse, and the heavy-lift Falcon. And though they do not look like the iconic Millennium Falcon flown by Han Solo and his Wookie buddy Chewbacca in "Star Wars," there are some striking similarities between the two spacecraft.
A Reusable Cargo Freighter
Just as the Millennium Falcon is a Corellian freighter, cargo loads (and sometimes passengers) across the galaxy, SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters are built-in payloads into orbit , (SpaceX no longer flies with Falcon 1 missiles, the last was flown in 2009.)
The first stages of the Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets are reusable, as is the Millennium Falcon. In the "Star Wars" universe Han Solo and other characters regularly refuel and fly their Falcon again and again.
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During today's launch of Falcon 9, SpaceX brought the Boost's first stage to Earth with a point on a drone ship back the Atlantic Ocean about 19 km off the coast of Florida. The booster will eventually fly back and bring more NASA cargo to the station on at least one more mission, possibly after a third mission, said Kenny Todd, NASA International Operations Manager and Space Station Integration after the successful launch.
Elon Musk SpaceX hopes to fly a Falcon 9 rocket twice within 24 hours. This would equate the SpaceX rockets with the Millennium Falcon, who seemed to have made the journey from Tatooine to the Death Star (near the former Alderaan site), only to flee the Empire and the rebel base on Yavin 4 throughout the Federal Republic to reach the same day in "Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope".
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The Millennium Falcon is not the only fictional object SpaceX has named after its vehicles. For example, the Dragon Spacecraft was named after Puff, the magical dragon, Elon Musk said. The company's drone landing pads, "Of course I still love you" and "Just Reading Instructions", were named after the gigantic starships of the series "The Culture" by science-fiction author Iain M. Banks.
It's just coincidence that SpaceX's Falcon 9 launched the Dragon Cargo mission for NASA on "Star Wars Day".
The mission was originally scheduled for launch on April 26, but was delayed several times to allow time for additional vehicle checks, optimal flight trajectory conditions for the flight, a small helium leak at the launch pad, and an electrical problem at the launch pad to fix drone ship.
Dragon carries more than 5,500 pounds. (2,495 kg) Experiments and supplies for astronauts on the International Space Station. She will arrive in the Orbita lab early Monday (6th May).
You can follow live the arrival of Dragon live by courtesy of NASA TV on Monday at 5.30am (9:30 GMT).