Peter Mayhew received a stunning honor by NASA astronauts residing in the International Space Station on Wednesday.
Astronaut Nick Hague shared a photo of Mayhew in his Chewbacca costume within the space station and Earth shining behind it, tweeting, “Honoring Peter Mayhew (also known as Chewbacca) up here on @Space_Station.”
He added, “Thank you Peter for inspiring generations of explorers.”
Mayhew’s Star Wars costar Mark Hamill retweeted it, writing, “To infinity and beyond, my friend. No one’s ever really gone when they’re in our hearts forever. #ThankYouPeter #AlwaysWithUs.”
Mayhew died on April 30 in Texas at the age of 74. His family released a statement earlier this month announcing his death, writing he had “fought his way back from being wheelchair-bound to stand tall and portray Chewbacca once more” for 2015’s Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens.
The actor originally played the beloved Wookiee in George Lucas’ original Star Wars trilogy, as well as Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.
Mayhew also “consulted” on The Last Jedi, his family said, putting “his heart and soul into the role of Chewbacca and it showed in every frame of the films from his knock-kneed running, firing his bowcaster from the hip, his bright blue eyes, down to each subtle movement of his head and mouth.”
“But to him, the Star Wars family meant so much more to him than a role in a film,” they added.
Shortly after news of his death broke, Hamill, 67, paid tribute to Mayhew, whom he described as “the gentlest of giants.”
“A big man with an even bigger heart who never failed to make me smile & a loyal friend who I loved dearly-I’m grateful for the memories we shared & I’m a better man for just having known him. Thanks Pete,” Hamill tweeted.
In 2015, Mayhew, who was 7’3”, told PEOPLE he enjoyed returning to his iconic role for The Force Awakens saying, “It’s been really, really fabulous.”
He also opened up about returning to his famous rapport with his onscreen buddy Harrison Ford, saying, “We were in our trailers in England, and there was a knock on the door. It’s Harrison, [saying], ‘Hey buddy. How are you doing? You’ve got to get back in the old suit again, have you?’”
“And a great big hug and everything was back to normal,” Mayhew added.
Mayhew is survived by his wife Angie and their three children. A memorial service will be held for him on June 29, as well as a memorial service in early December in Los Angeles for fans.
Rather than gifts and flowers, the actor’s family asks fans to consider donating to the Peter Mayhew Foundation.
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