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How Fast is the Millennium Falcon?

How Fast is the Millennium Falcon?

If you’ve ever seen any of the Star Wars movies, you know that the Millennium Falcon is an exceptionally fast, modified cargo ship. But have you ever wondered exactly how fast the ship can travel?

There is no simple answer to how fast the Millennium Falcon is. A lot of people have speculated about its speed, but at the end of the day, all of the facts and figures they can come up with are merely speculation.

How Fast is the Millennium Falcon?

The fast Millennium Falcon

It seems like this should be an easy, straightforward question to answer, but it’s not. The fact is, no one knows for sure how fast the Millennium Falcon is because George Lucas never provided a canonical answer. 

That said, a lot of people online have tried to figure out the Falcon’s speed.

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The challenge has been that we only have a few cryptic clues to give us a general idea of just how fast the Falcon can fly.

The first clues come when Obi-Wan and Luke first meet Han Solo and he boasts about the speed of his ship. He says it “made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” He later adds that “she’ll make .5 past light speed.” 

STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE Clip - Cantina (1977) Harrison Ford

But just how fast are these figures? The short answer is, no one knows for sure.

How Fast is a Parsec?

Here’s a funny fact that you may have already known: a parsec is not a measure of speed, but a measure of distance. This, of course, makes Han Solo’s claim even more confusing because he wasn’t directly referring to the Falcon’s speed.

Returning to Han’s original quote: “It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.” 

The Kessel Run is a 20-parsec course used by smugglers. Han Solo managed to make this run in a little more than 12 parsecs (which he “rounded down” to less than 12) by taking shortcuts through the Akkadese Maelstrom, where the Kessel Run lies.

STAR WARS : Kessel Run

It was thought that Han must have taken the ship dangerously close to a couple of black holes within the Maelstrom to pass through such a small distance of the Kessel Run. 

If this is indeed the case, then the ship had to be fast enough to withstand and escape the gravitational pull of a black hole. 

This would suggest the Falcon is an extremely fast ship.

But even with the Kessel Run segments in Solo: A Star Wars Story, there is still speculation as we don’t see exactly what happens. 

It is possible that the Millennium Falcon was able to make the Run in 12 parsecs because of its superior maneuverability and exceptional navigational abilities, more so than its speed.

Adding to the challenge, we don’t know how long it actually took the Millennium Falcon to get anywhere. 

In A New Hope, the ship was probably traveling at top speed from Tatooine to Alderaan, but we don’t know the exact course taken or how long it took Han and the others to reach their destination.

Millennium Falcon escapes Tatooine - Star Wars IV A New Hope

There is reason to believe they were traveling through hyperspace for at least a few hours, but likely not more than a couple of days.

Considering these and a variety of other factors, several suggestions regarding the Falcon’s top speed have been made. Some of these suggestions include:

  • 29,000 miles per hour: This highly technical article from Wired uses a variety of physics and algebraic equations to suggest that the Millennium Falcon can travel about 46,670 kilometers per hour at sub-light speed.

When jumping to light speed, it is suggested that the ship can accelerate at speeds of 33,922 meters per second squared. By comparison, when an object is dropped and falls to the ground, it falls at a rate of just under 10 meters per second squared.

  • 2,714 to 3,167 light years per hour: This article from Looper suggests a range of top speeds depending on a speculated range of how long it took the Falcon to travel from Tatooine to Alderaan.

Though much of the article is based on assumptions rather than facts, the assumptions seem reasonable and make logical sense.

  • 1,041 light years per hour: This article from Tor.com discusses what “.5 past light speed” could mean and comes to the conclusion that the Falcon could travel 25,000 light years in a day, or 1,041 light years each hour. 

Is the Millennium Falcon Faster Than Light?

When Luke first sees the Millenium Falcon, he exclaims, “What a piece of junk!” Han replies, “She’ll make .5 past light speed. She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid.”

What a piece of junk!

There has been a lot of uncertainty surrounding this quote. Just how fast is “.5 past light speed?” 

The logical answer is that it would be 50% faster than the speed of light, which would be 279,000 miles per second. 

At first glance, that seems like an impossibly high speed. But it isn’t as fast as it seems. Multiply 86,400 (the number of seconds in a day) times 279,000 miles per second, and we find that the Falcon would travel 24,105,600,000 miles in a day. 

A light year is about 6 trillion miles, so we divide 6,000,000,000,000 by 24,105,600,000 to figure out it would take 248.904 days to travel a light year. 

So, traveling about 279,000 miles per second, it would still take about 249 days to travel a light year. And there are several thousand light years between Tatooine and Alderaan.

But .5 past light speed may not be as simple as it sounds. It could be a shorthand reference to a scale in which .5 represents a certain number of light years per day, as explained in this article.

Either way, the Millennium Falcon can certainly go faster than the speed of light; otherwise, it would take years, if not lifetimes, to travel between planets in the Galaxy.

Could the Millennium Falcon Actually Go Faster Than the Speed of Light?

Is the Millennium Falcon the Fastest Ship in Star Wars?

In Return of the Jedi, Han offers the Falcon to Lando, stating that it’s “the fastest ship in the fleet.” This suggests that the old cargo ship is faster than military starfighters and is, at least, the fastest ship available to the Rebels.

Han boasts that, with the Falcon, “I’ve outrun Imperial starships; not the local bulk cruisers, mind you, I’m talking about the big Corellian ships now.” 

We see evidence to back up this claim throughout the movies, as the Falcon repeatedly outruns and outmaneuvers every ship that chases it.

So it seems safe to say that the Millennium Falcon is one of the fastest ships in Star Wars, if not the fastest.

How is the Millennium Falcon So Fast?

Why is the Millennium Falcon so FAST!? | Desk of Death Battle

As the above video explains, the Millennium Falcon began as a cargo ship but received numerous upgrades to make it better and faster.

Specifically, its hyperdrive was upgraded to one of the fastest, most powerful engines available. Even its sub-light engine, which was used for flying below light speed, was one of the best available and allowed the ship to move at impressive speeds outside of hyperspace.

Conclusion

The Millennium Falcon is an insanely fast ship in the Star Wars universe, known for its abilities to outrun and outmaneuver just about every other ship out there. 

That said, there’s no way to tell exactly how fast it is; we can only speculate based on mathematical formulas and comments made by characters throughout the movies.

Regardless of how fast the Falcon can go, all of the speculated figures discussed above are ridiculously fast. 

The Falcon would need to have inertial dampers or some similar technology to keep the pressure of such speeds from crushing the people inside.

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