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Astronauts watch Star Wars on International Space Station

Star Wars in space Image copyright NASA
Image caption A tweet from the space station shows Samuel L Jackson's character Mace Windu

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have revealed they have celebrated Star Wars Day by screening one of the sci-fi movies.

"Just watching @starwars. In space. No big deal," Nasa tweeted from one of its official accounts, adding the hashtag #Maythe4thBeWithYou.

It is not the only recent tie-in. Members of a forthcoming expedition to the ISS posed as Jedi knights for their official photo earlier this year.

The choice of film surprised some.

"You picked the wrong one!" tweeted Angel Dominguez, referring to the fact that a photo sent from the satellite shows Mace Windu's battle with Supreme Chancellor Palpatine in the prequel Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, rather a scene from the original trilogy.

The ISS was recently fitted with a high-definition projector, which the astronauts also use for video conferences and displaying computer software.

Commander Scott Kelly revealed last month that the team on board had also used it to watch the space disaster movie.

Image copyright NASA
Image caption Six members of an expedition scheduled for September have appeared in Jedi garb

The latest movie showing was timed to coincide with the date, which references the series' most quoted line: "May the force be with you."

"We can't say for sure if this was the first time a Star Wars film has been screened in space as crew members throughout the history of the International Space Station have had access to movies and TV shows of their choosing to watch during their off-duty time," Daniel Huot, a spokesman for Nasa, told the BBC.

Lightsaber mission

The ISS was previously linked to the space opera in 2007, when character Luke Skywalker's lightsaber prop was flown to the orbiting structure and back to mark 30 years of the franchise.

Such stunts only add to the series' value by keeping it in the public eye. Disney is set to be the beneficiary of the latest publicity, having bought the rights to Star Wars from its creator George Lucas in 2012, along with other movie rights, for $4bn (£2.6bn).

Analysts are expecting that the first in a new series of films, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will set a new box office record when it is released in December.

Image copyright collectSPACE.com
Image caption Nasa previously flew a lightsaber prop to the International Space Station

One expert quoted by The Hollywood Reporter has forecast it could make more than $500m in its first three days in cinemas.

However, efforts to further extend the franchise have faced a setback with news that the director of a planned spin-off is no longer involved.

"I've put a tremendous amount of thought into this, and I know deep down in my heart that I want to pursue some original creative opportunities," Josh Tank said in a statement published on the official Star Wars site last week.

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