“A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away” is about to get real close and not too far from now, as Star Wars joins forces with NASA in an unusual manner. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration will be taking Luke Skywalker’s original lightsaber (from Star Wars) and jettisoning it into space on board the Space Shuttle Discovery to help celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Star Wars.

What’s great about this news is that the idea of a movie prop, albeit a lightsaber, isn’t the funny part of the story. Instead it’s the extraordinary amount of security that will surround the prop as it makes its way into NASA’s hands in Houston from Lucasfilm’s headquarters in northern California.

The lightsaber will be handed over to NASA by Chewbacca at Oakland International Airport. I guess this makes sense. After all, Chewie has been part of both trilogies, so having him as a prominent part of the anniversary celebration makes sense. Bad news for Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew, however. The press release lists it as “an actor dressed as Chewbacca” which probably means it won’t be the real deal.

From Oakland, the prop will make its way to Texas through the air, presumably via Southwest Airlines, who was a part of the joint press release. When it arrives it will be met with a stormtrooper honor guard and R2-D2 (another prominent part of both trilogies), as well as other costumed characters. The honor guard will take the lightsaber to a caravan of Hummers with a police escort, which will then take the weapon to NASA’s Houston Space Center, where it will be stored in the same vault used to secure moon samples. Then the lightsaber will wait there until Discovery makes its launch on October 23rd.

Okay, I’m just as big a Star Wars geek as the next guy, probably more so as long as the next guy isn’t in line at Comic-Con, but doesn’t this seem a little over the top? I mean, we’re talking about a cheap movie prop here from days where the props weren’t even made that solid. A few stormtroopers are cool (after all, what else is the 501st going to do) but a police escort on a caravan of Hummers? Are they really afraid some rabid Al Queda-esque fan is going to try to steal the thing?

Then again, the folks behind Fanboys may have just gotten an idea for a sequel.

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