COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — “Star Wars” arrived in theaters to inspire a budding scientist.

“I always wanted to look cool in a spaceship,” said Dimitri Klebe, the scientist who 40 years after the movie grins about his latest project.

It won’t fly but is nonetheless big and, in a way, can explore the galaxy. Most important, the Mobile Earth and Space Observatory, or MESO, can inspire a new generation of astronomy enthusiasts.

“I think it’s gonna be a game-changer,” said Klebe, a former Colorado College professor and longtime space educator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

For years he pushed the idea at the museum: A traveling classroom, a laboratory on wheels, would take pressure off exhibits that field-tripping school kids never had time to really understand. Students could experiment in a mobile observatory over the span of days. And it could reach remote schools out of a museum’s reach, students who don’t have the opportunity for such a field trip.

The idea never took at the museum, said Klebe, who was laid off in January after 14 years.

“That’s when I (thought), ‘OK, I’ve gotta devote my time to getting this ready. I’ve gotta get this ready for the eclipse.”

And there it was Tuesday in Colorado Springs, ready for the celestial event of a lifetime.

Locals came to envy Klebe’s creation before he left for Nebraska, one of 14 states that on Monday will be in the solar eclipse’s “path of totality.” He will be in the 26-foot 1976 GMC RV that he turned into MESO.

The back walls slide to reveal an open-air lab, with a telescope mount at its center. Toward the front, two 65-inch flat screens are posted to relay data. Red LED lights line the interior — lights that won’t deter night-time viewing.