The Millennium Falcon, Star Wars

Could we build the Milennium Falcon for real?

Contributed by
May 27, 2018, 1:02 PM EDT

Maybe no one outside of Cloud City can get lucky enough to pull a Han Solo and gamble their way to winning a starship like the Milennium Falcon, but advanced technology could get us closer to building one.

Because so much of it is made from found parts, the iconic piece of junk is a mashup of various technologies that range from achievable to questionable to unknown. SpaceX’s Dragon is designed to be reusable, laser cannons already exist, and holographic game boards are almost a thing. Then you start navigating some really theoretical territory having to do with hyperdrives and wormholes and quantum physics. That is way beyond the scope of your average nerf herder.

The Falcon’s hyperdrive is what makes it capable of blasting off at the speed of light—and faster. “Hypermatter particles” launch it into hyperspace, a (theoretical) alternate dimension which you can (again, theoretically) cross over to by zooming as fast as Han boasts his ship can go and flying through a wormhole. Wormholes are predicted in the theory of general relativity but haven’t been proven. The closest thing we have to a hyperdrive is the EmDrive, which gets around without propellant by bouncing around microwaves that interact with our planet’s magnetic field. It still isn’t technically a hyperdrive.

Another bragging point of Solo’s is that his hybrid vehicle can take high g-force turns. Say the hyperdrive actually got figured out. Anyone along for the ride would be subject to a crushing 12-g force at those speeds, meaning a gravitational field 12 times what human beings are used to on Earth. It becomes more and more difficult for blood to circulate to the brain as the g’s creep up, and 12 g’s is the max that jet-fighter pilots wearing specialized g-suits can take. Passengers without those suits would black out before that.

The invisible deflector shields that keep Han and Chewie from getting fried by Imperial lasers may not just exist in the movies. A team of students from the University of Leicester in the UK suggested that the plasma which already acts as an invisible shield in the ionosphere could be manipulated to bounce off electromagnetic radiation such as laser blasts from the Dark Side. It hasn’t actually been built, but the concept is not impossible.

What about the Falcon’s Quadex power core? That technology is nebulous even in Star Wars, so whether we can duplicate it remains a mystery.

So maybe we can’t put together a Millennium Falcon exactly like space cowboy Solo’s equivalent of a muscle car on Earth, but build your own out of Legos with no risk of getting crushed by G-forces or vanishing in the fabric of spacetime.