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NASA Press Secretary Lauren Worley spoke to some of the amazing women at NASA about their love of Star Wars. Here’s what they had to say.

Strong women leaders, inspiration to explore the unknown and awesome light saber battles are just a few of the reasons these women working at NASA are excited for the next installment of Star WarsStar Wars inspired astrophysicist and science communicator Michelle Thaller to dream. “People always expect some profound answer when they ask me why I work for NASA,” Thaller said. “Well,” I say, “Star Wars came out when I was seven years old.  That pretty much sealed it.”

Kathleen Gallagher Boggs, an executive officer in the Office of the Chief Technologist who earned a PhD in physics focused on development of ferromagnetic nanomaterials, is excited to see what the new Star Wars film now portrays as the possible future for women. “Star Wars has always lead the way portraying strong women,” Boggs said. “When I was a girl and starting to play sports like the boys, Leia was onscreen facing up to Darth Vader and shooting blasters like the men. Later, Padme was a powerful Senator just when we were seeing women making strides in Congress that lead to the election of the first female Speaker of the House.”

The new Star Wars also is a source of nostalgia for some, including Sarah Becky Ramsey, a public relations specialist in the Office of Communications at NASA Headquarters. “The thing I’m most excited about is getting to see the movie on opening weekend with my mom,” Ramsey said. “She’s the one who encouraged my love of Star Wars, teaching me about musical themes by using the soundtrack, debating theories for the story before A New Hope (way back before the prequels – we were sure Obi Wan was Luke’s grandfather), and making me countless Princess Leia and R2-D2 costumes.”

Walking down the halls of NASA’s offices, many are decorated with toys and displays from popular science fiction movies and programs, including Thaller’s. “Some people may look askance at my NASA office being filled with Star Wars toys,” Thaller said. “There is no way we are going to work for NASA and not have fun.  Not on my watch.  I have given light sabers to astronauts and top NASA managers – no better way to settle budget disputes.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens will hit theaters on December 18.

About the author:

As the Press Secretary at NASA, Lauren Worley shares the wonders of the universe and the actions we’re taking on Earth to get even deeper into space. Prior to working at NASA, she led advocacy efforts, developed policy and implemented legislation in the Ohio General Assembly, as the Chief of Staff to Former Ohio Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and as a perennial on the Ohio campaign trail. Follow her on Twitter @SpaceLauren.

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Lauren Worley