Out of all the millions of Darth Vader sightings that’ve occurred on our home planet every Halloween since 1977, the Sith Lord has never been spotted, so far as we know, anywhere beyond the confines of our own atmosphere — until now, that is.
At long last, though, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst has finally taken Vader back to the place he most belongs: space. Gerst, one of three crew members to spend Halloween aboard the International Space Station, gave his fellow Earthlings a shout-out of the crew’s Halloween duds in a tweet that shows his Darth Vader taking center stage. (As an aside, how cool is it that you can hang out in space and still stay on top of your Twitter account?)
Vader clearly didn’t show up to play nice, with his trademark red lightsaber at the ready. Flanked by Elvis (cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev) at his Vegas best, and a crazed mad scientist (NASA’s Serena Auñón-Chancellor), this elite ISS guard is a decidedly more motley bunch than a standard-issue pair of Stormtroopers.
But now that he’s in our galactic neighborhood, it stands to reason that Vader inevitably would pick up on a few tropes from the local culture. Maybe instead of making his dramatic entrances to John Williams’ "Imperial March," Gerst’s Darth Vader is up there striding into rooms to a live version of “Hound Dog.”
This isn’t the first time ISS crew members have suited up for Halloween, nor even the only time an ISS costume has shown off an astronaut’s sci-fi geek cred. Back in 2015, ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took the bridge as Stark Trek Captain Kathyrn Janeway.
But it’s hard to envision a more spaced-out power trio than Darth Vader, the King, and the crazed engineer who keeps their ship a-rockin’. So when you lift your eyes to the sky this Halloween night, pause to reflect for a moment that, somewhere in the sky just above you, the Empire is actually watching — and Elvis is their secret weapon.