The Untold Truth Of The Millennium Falcon

The entire history of "Star Wars" has been dictated by pilots and their ships. The Republic would never have been able to get off the ground if not for the ships that connected the galaxy and the Empire would never have fallen without courageous Rebel pilots heading into battle. In times of peace and war alike, the galaxy's most important assets are its ships, and there is no ship in all of "Star Wars" that's as important as the Millennium Falcon.

The Falcon is a freighter, racer, and warship all in one. It may have started as a humble working vessel, but Lando Calrissian transformed it into the powerful ship that "Star Wars" fans know and love. Lando couldn't hold on to his treasured ship forever, though. Eventually, it changed hands and helped Han Solo do some terrible things before also helping him turn a new page and overthrow the Galactic Empire.

The Falcon's story is still being written. After the events of the sequel trilogy, it's now in the hands of Rey Skywalker, and it might help her usher in a whole new era of "Star Wars" history. Regardless of what the future has in store for the Falcon, the stories of its past have already cemented the ship's place in galactic legend.

The ship was designed in one day

"Star Wars" has always stood out because of the incredible designs of its worlds, creatures, and ships. Seemingly every shot of the movie features one iconic creation or another, and the film's creators spent hours agonizing over just about everything that appears on screen. Fans might be shocked to learn, however, that the single most iconic ship design in the entire franchise basically came about overnight.

The Millennium Falcon was always meant to play a major role in "Star Wars," and the artists working on the ship knew just how important it was to nail the look and feel of the Falcon. The crew spent plenty of time fleshing out what they thought was a unique design for the ship, but just before they were ready to get to work creating models of the Falcon, life threw them a curveball.

The U.K. TV show, "Space: 1999," debuted in 1975, and by some strange coincidence, it featured a ship that looked eerily similar to the rough draft design of the Falcon. The "Star Wars" crew suddenly had to scramble to come up with a new ship in time to actually start filming the movie. They redesigned the Falcon in a day, and somewhat accidentally created the most iconic spaceship in history.

It has ties to 2001: A Space Odyssey

When most people think about "Star Wars," they think of George Lucas. Lucas not only created the galaxy far, far away that everyone knows and loves today but also directed the original movie and all three prequel films. Without Lucas, "Star Wars" wouldn't exist today in any form, but that doesn't mean he created the franchise alone.

Lucas might have had the idea for the many characters, creatures, worlds, and ships that populate the "Star Wars" galaxy, but he needed artists to actually bring his ideas to life. Luckily for Lucas, there was no shortage of artists who had their minds on the stars in the mid-70s. One of the first artists who signed onto the project was Colin Cantwell, who'd previously helped Stanley Kubrick with his vision for "2001: A Space Odyssey."

Cantwell created many of the earliest ship designs for "Star Wars," and any sci-fi super fan can recognize a certain resemblance between the models used in "Star Wars" and the ships featured in Kubrick's "2001." Cantwell helped create the original Millennium Falcon which had to be changed because of its resemblance to the ship from "Space: 1999," but even though that design didn't make it into the final film, Cantwell's aesthetic influence exists in every single "Star Wars" project.

It's so fast it should kill its passengers

The Millennium Falcon is the fastest ship in the galaxy ... at least, as long as you're asking Han Solo, it is. The ship has outrun countless Imperial warships and opportunistic pirates, and it famously made the Kessel run in 12 parsecs. As impressive as that finish time is, what's even more amazing is that the Falcon hasn't liquified its passengers at any time during its lengthy career.

In her book, "The Science of Star Wars," Jeanne Cavelos points out just how dangerous many of Han's crafty maneuvers would be in real life. Time and time again we've seen characters riding in the Falcon as it makes a sudden jump to lightspeed travel, but according to Cavelos, the force of that acceleration "will push Han back so forcefully that he'll become a splat on that fine vinyl upholstery."

The truth is, even if Han took it easy, the kind of travel that the Falcon is used for would still kill everyone on board. If the ship accelerated with 3 g's of force, humans could survive on it for just about an hour, but the ship itself wouldn't reach light speed for several months. That's a big problem when traveling across the galaxy. Some engineer in the "Star Wars" galaxy definitely solved the acceleration problem ages ago because the Falcon can move at up to 3,000 g's when it really gets going. Thank the Force for sci-fi physics.

At this point it's basically a warship

The Millennium Falcon began its life as a freighter. The fact that it was originally designed to store plenty of cargo made it especially useful to Han Solo when he piloted the ship as a smuggler. Thanks to the events of the "Star Wars" movies, the Falcon has developed a more storied history than most cargo ships, and it's played a major role in some of the most important battles in galactic history.

How has the Falcon managed to hold its own against Imperial cruisers, First Order battalions, and multiple Death Stars? Well, over the years its various owners have made their own augmentations to the ship. As far back as the original trilogy, but particularly during the events of the sequels, thinking of the Falcon as a freighter is a bit like thinking of a tank as an Uber.

Of the many modifications made to the Falcon over the years, the flashiest are the weapons systems. In terms of pure firepower, the Falcon is basically a premiere battleship. Two laser cannons and two additional missile tubes allow the Falcon to tear apart anything it encounters in outer space. When on the ground, the Falcon relies on a massive blaster cannon to fend off attackers. Anything that manages to get in a real shot at the Falcon likely won't damage it thanks to two deflector shield generators and some duralloy plates literally ripped from an Imperial cruiser. The Falcon's still a freighter, but it's also one of the best warships in the galaxy.

It has three brains

Over the years, the Millennium Falcon has been helmed by some of the greatest pilots in galactic history. People like Lando Calrissian, Han Solo, and Rey Skywalker have pulled off daring maneuvers and led the Falcon through countless battles that few other pilots would have been able to handle. The ship itself certainly comes with its own advantages, some of which we've already discussed, but there's another little-known fact about the Falcon that might explain how it's survived so many impossible encounters.

One of the best things about "Solo: A Star Wars Story" was that it delved into the Falcon's history and the time it spent being piloted by Lando Calrissian (Donald Glover). Though he could easily have overseen the ship on his own, Lando traveled with a droid, who he may have been in love with, called L3-37 (Phoebe Waller-Bridge). When L3 was fatally injured, Lando managed to save her life, in a way, by uploading her mind to the Falcon's computers.

Shocking as that is, it isn't the full story. Long before L3-37 became a part of the Falcon, two other droids were uploaded to the ship's computer. V5-T was a transport droid in another lifetime, and ED-4 operated as a droid capable of sophisticated computer hacking. Together, the three droids within the Falcon refer to themselves as the Millennium Collective. While they haven't been at the forefront of "Star Wars" lore to date, they're a big part of why the Falcon can seemingly find its way out of any complicated situation.

The Falcon was operating during the prequels

The most exciting moments in the Millennium Falcon's life all happened after the fall of the Galactic Republic. It was during the dark days of the Empire that the Falcon made its way from one smuggler to another before becoming one of the most important vessels in the rebellion. After the rise of the New Republic, the Falcon got a break before re-entering the galactic stage during the war between the New Republic and the First Order.

Those decades are filled with thrilling stories about the Falcon and its occupants, but the ship had an entire history before its adventurous journey as a smuggler-turned-rebel. Even its less exciting days were filled with minor intrigue and larger-than-life conflict. The Falcon was created sometime before the Clone Wars, but during that particular galactic conflict it was owned by a secretive organization called the Republic Group. Little is known about the Republic Group, but it oversaw massive cargo transports during the Clone Wars, and it outfitted the Falcon with its first pieces of military-grade hardware.

The prequels never delved into the Falcon's mysterious past, but the iconic ship did make a brief appearance in the trilogy — the Falcon can be seen in the foreground of an establishing shot in "The Revenge of the Sith." At that time it was owned by the Republic Group, but why the Falcon was being docked on Coruscant is a lingering question that "Star Wars" fans may never get a satisfying answer to.

The Falcon has a Star Trek cameo

"Strek Trek" first made its way to air in 1966, putting it 12 years ahead of "Star Wars." People immediately fell in love with the serialized sci-fi show for many of the same reasons that they'd later come to love George Lucas's original film. Both have incredible ships, unique aliens, exotic planets, and interesting stories to explore through the stars. One franchise leans a little more hard sci-fi, while the other is a full-on space opera, but the Venn diagram of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" fandom has a ton of overlap. Still, there's also been a healthy rivalry between the fanbases that's lasted decades.

In general, the universes of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars" couldn't intermingle very easily, but for one small moment in the late '90s, the Millennium Falcon got to fly through them both. "Star Trek: First Contact," featuring Sir Patrick Stewart as the fan-favorite Captain Picard, debuted in 1996, not quite a year before Lucas released the "Star Wars Trilogy Special Edition." It just so happens that Industrial Light & Magic, which has a long history of working on "Star Wars" movies, handled the special effects for "First Contact," and it snuck in the briefest glimpse of the Falcon in a major battle scene in the movie.

Lando's Falcon almost had hotrod flames

The Millennium Falcon has changed hands quite a bit over the decades. After starting out under the command of the Republic Group, it wound up as the smuggling vessel that eventually came to be owned by Han Solo and later Rey Skywalker. Though Han and Rey might have spent the most time with the Falcon, there's no pilot who had more impact on the ship's history than Lando Calrissian.

Lando spent years as the Falcon's captain before losing the ship to Han, which we'll get into in a minute. He was a smooth talker and a skilled smuggler, but what really set Lando apart from the Falcon's other owners was that he had the mind of a spaceship engineer. He made plenty of modifications to the Falcon over the years, which transformed the ship into the lightning-fast vehicle it is today.

"Solo: A Star Wars Story" gave fans a deep look at Falcon under Lando's command. The team working on the movie knew that they needed to show off the various modifications Lando had made to the ship to sell the idea that he was a very different captain from Han. Some of their earliest ideas were a little unorthodox, to say the least. They played with the idea of adding racing fins to the front of the Falcon or even having flames painted on it. Eventually, they settled on the blue color pallet and larger thrusters that fans recognize today as Lando's version of the ship.

Gambling caused it to trade hands - twice

Most ships in the "Star Wars" galaxy are bought and sold like any other good. The largest vessels are commissioned by companies or governments, which is how the Millennium Falcon first came to be. After those ships serve their purpose they either get scrapped for parts or end up trading hands between individuals, picking up modifications along the way that would leave them unrecognizable to their original owner.

As a first-class smuggling vessel, the Falcon spent years being traded in under-the-table deals, but on at least two occasions it was also traded on the table over a game of cards. Fans knew for a long time that Han Solo won the Falcon from Lando Calrissian via a game of sabbac, the galaxy's favorite way to gamble. "Solo" let us see that fateful game play out for the first time.

What many don't realize is that Lando really should have known better than to offer up his beloved ship. Years before crossing paths with Han, Lando had the opportunity to play a game of sabbac for a chance to win a freighter registered as YT 492727ZED. Lando came out on top, as he often does, and after working on that freighter to make it into the souped-up spaceship of his dreams, Lando renamed it the Millennium Falcon.

In an alternate timeline, Lando won the Falcon back

The Millennium Falcon might have fallen into Han Solo's hands, but it didn't stay there forever. Of course, Lando always wanted his ship back, and in the original "Star Wars" trilogy he at least gets to spend a bit of time piloting it again while Han is frozen in carbonite. The movies weren't the place where their back and forth was finally settled.

In the novel, "Dark Apprentice," by Kevin J. Anderson, Lando and Han fought over who should really get to own the Falcon. They decide to settle the matter in the only way that makes sense to them: another game of sabbac. That's not the end of the discussion for them, though. Over the course of the book, they end up playing sabbac three times, constantly trading the ship back and forth. Eventually, Lando gives the Falcon up because he thinks that handing it over to Han willingly will help him impress a woman.

Of course, "Dark Apprentice" was published in 1994, which means the events of the story aren't "Star Wars" canon anymore. After Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, the company got to work establishing its own version of "Star Wars" history. Essentially, anything published before 2014 has been relegated to an alternate universe — the "Legends" timeline. There's always a chance that Lando and Han's ongoing battle for the Falcon gets rebooted in the current canon sometime in the future.