Do you know how fast the Millennium Falcon can go?
Not many people have actually nailed down an exact speed the Falcon could possibly travel through hyperspace. This is because Star Wars was meant as a fantasy saga, so not many details are ever given in the movie.
Canon facts are indeed scarce.
But this didn’t stop Chris Lough from TOR working out some feasible speeds the Falcon may have traveled at.
So how did Chris work the Falcon’s speeds out?
She’ll make point 5 past light speed…
Obviously, the Falcon can go faster than light speed otherwise it would not be able to reach other star systems in a reasonable time. So what does ‘point 5’ mean?
Well, it could be on a similar scale to Star Trek’s warp system where for example Warp 6 is actually more than double Warp 5, not just 20% more. Warp 7 is over 3 times the speed of Warp 5 etc. When you get past Warp 9, speeds get exponentially faster peaking at an unreachable Warp 10. Warp 10 could be similar to a whole 1 (point 5 being half way down the scale), we’ll talk more about maximum practical speeds later.
But before we can work out a speed, we need a few solid facts about the Star Wars universe, not just the galaxy, but also the circumstances of a particular journey. If we have enough information, we can conclude likely outcomes, even if they are not exact statements, we can probably get some ballpark numbers, better than sticking a finger in the sky right?
So, let’s choose a well known journey all Star Wars fans are familiar with. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalkers’ hired trip from Tatooine to Alderaan.
We could almost buy our own ship for that!
Now we already know that old Ben Kenobi was in a hurry, he paid a premium for the trip after Han Solo’s boast of the Falcon’s credentials. So it is fairly safe to assume that during the trip to Alderaan the Falcon would have been travelling at close to it’s maximum speed, if not the very top. Maybe point 4, maybe point 5 🙂
Now we need to know the distance of the journey! This has never been mentioned in the movies so we need a map!
Well, luckily we have an official galaxy map taken from the Star Wars Essential Atlas.
And yes, this map is close to canon as you are going to get, it’s LucasFilm approved. LucasFilm even suggested some of the planets that were added to the atlas.
The locations of Tatooine and Alderaan seem reliable, as every other Star Wars map (including this one) have always placed Tatooine in the South East corner of the Outer Rim and Alderaan in the North East corner of the Core.
“It looks like most of the way between the two planets consists of established space lanes, which is handy for our purposes. It assures us that the Falcon traveling at top speed would have been a simple affair since the route is mostly established and clear of stars, supernovas, asteroid fields, and other objects that would require trickier navigation.”
We know from the atlas that the Star Wars galaxy is 120,000 light years across, so each square on this atlas is 5217.39 light years across. Using the magic of Pythagoras we can calculate the actual journey!
We can get more accurate and follow the space lanes by doing this :
“Measured out in Photoshop, each square of 5217.39 light years is 5/8ths of an inch, which means 1/8th of an inch equals 1043.478 light years, which gives us a small enough scale to be more exact when measuring the distance of their route.
When measuring and tallying everything up, the Tatooine to Alderaan route is 50855 light years long.”
So it was quite a journey in other words!
Now we have our distance, we need to come to some conclusions about how long the journey took and therefore what speed was attained.
To get the journey time we need to make some educational guesses and the likelihood of each time we come up with.
So how long did Obi-Wan and Luke spend on the Falcon with Han and Chewie? Well, we know they spent at least a few hours on board, because they are lounging around playing holochess etc, possibly a day maybe even a few days.
It’s unlikely the journey took weeks, they would have run out of food and other resources. Also in the context of the movie, the characters would have been very familiar with each other had they spent THAT much time in each other’s company. We can probably rule out pit-stops and certainly rule out cryosleep chambers that we NEVER see in Star Wars.
So the most likely trip time would be 1 to a few days, maybe.
As you can see by the graph (dividing the distance by the number of days possibly travelled) anything shorter that 2 days is LUDICROUS speed! In 2 days, the Falcon would be able to zip from one side of the galaxy to another in just over a day! Anything less than 2 days, the Falcon would be able to zoom off the galactic map in LESS than a single day, highly unlikely!
Chris also speculates on maximum practical speeds where if the ship were going THAT fast, it literally would not be able to navigate celestial objects safely without slowing down every few minutes.
So… if we settle on 2 days as the journey time and round down the number to make it nice and neat, that gives us
25,000 light years per day, or 1041 light years per hour!
or… 9,125,000 times the speed of light.
Returning to the point 5 scale, if .5 means 25,000 lypd, .4 could mean 20,000 and .3 mean 15,000 etc. This would also mean a maximum whole ‘1’ equals 50,000 lypd.