WE KNOW HOW FAST IT ISN’T
In the first Star Wars movie, Han Solo claims that the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in “less than twelve parsecs.” What Han, or more correctly, George Lucas doesn’t realize is that a parsec is not a unit of time, but one of distance. In case you’re wondering, a parsec is equal to 3.26 light years, which is also a unit of distance and not time. If 3.26 light years is too alien a concept to wrap your brain around, it’s equal to 19 trillion miles, or 31 trillion kilometers for our metric friends out there. That’s about 3 billion times the distance from New York to Tokyo. That’s the kind of distance we’re dealing with here. And you thought the drive to your grandmother’s house was long.
STAR WARS EXPANDED UNIVERSE CLAIMS
THERE’S ANOTHER HINT OF ITS SPEED
Han also mentions that the Millennium Falcon can reach “0.5 past lightspeed.” But that doesn’t seem to mean too much. We admit that it sounds impressive because it implies that the Millennium Falcon is able to travel faster than the speed of light, which it does. But it also sounds like sci-fi mumbo jumbo. Like, “0.5” of what? As pointed out on Slate, it seems like the implication is that the Falcon can fly 1.5 times the speed of light, which would be 279,000 miles per second, which is fast as hell. But this is never clarified in any of the films. George Lucas fails us again!
HOW DO WE FIGURE OUT ITS SPEED?
THE DISTANCE FROM TATOOINE TO ALDERAAN AND THE DEATH STAR
According to various sources out there, the size of the far, far away galaxy in which the Star Warsstories take place is said to be about 120,000 light years from one side to the other. Tatooine sits somewhere on the outer rim of this galaxy, where the planets on the furthest edge of it are found, far away from its bright center. That’s said to put it about 43,000 light years from the galactic core, the dead center of the galaxy. Alderaan sat—and the Death Star sits—in the area where the core worlds are found. That’s towards the center of the galaxy, which is said to be less than 5,000 light years from the dead center of the galaxy. But we’re going to say 5,000 just for argument’s sake. So that puts the two planets about 38,000 light years apart, give or take a few thousand light years. Think about that the next time you think the distance from the couch to the refrigerator is too far to walk for a drink.
HOW LONG IT TOOK THEM TO GET THERE
NOW FOR THE MATH
So, if the Millennium Falcon travelled 38,000 light years in 12 hours, that means it flies about 3,167 light years per hour. If it made the trip in 14 hours, then it can fly about 2,714 light years per hour. Hence, it flies somewhere between or close to those two speeds. Of course, there are some things that we haven’t taken into consideration, such as the fact that planets don’t just stay in one place all of the time. They orbit around suns, and those suns orbit through the galaxy, and galaxies spin, so planets constantly move. Also, some of the information we used comes from expanded universe sources, not the movies, so it’s debatable information. Also, after Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, they quite famously rendered a significant portion of the expanded universe material non-canonical. So we could be working with completely incorrect numbers. But until George Lucas appears and gives an official speed for the Millennium Falcon, that’s how fast we’re going to say it is: 2,714 light years per hour. Of course, he’d probably just negate that twenty years later with another prequel.
HOW FAST IS THE MILLENNIUM FALCON REALLY?