When I was at school all the kids loved Star Wars. The girls in my class saw Princess Leia as their no-nonsense role model, while the boys all dreamed of piloting an ‘X-wing’ spaceship and destroying the Death Star – just like Luke Skywalker. The sophisticated children, however, knew that roguish Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon was the VW campervan of interstellar cool.
In the movies, the Millennium Falcon looks like a big ship. But as Stan (five years old) asked us (via their parent) – just how big is it really? Or more specifically, is it bigger than a blue whale? Kids truly ask all the best questions…
The blue whale is a good thing to compare the ship with as it is the largest animal to have ever existed on planet Earth (dinosaurs included). Fully grown they are 30 metres / 100 feet long and weigh an almighty 170 tonnes. By comparison, the original Millennium Falcon was rather teeny – the model used in the original Star Wars film was 5 feet long (1.5 metres) – which, while making it taller than a five-year-old, was small enough to easily fit inside a blue whale’s gaping mouth.
For the 1997 movie set, a bigger version of the Millennium Falcon was also built, set in a secret hangar in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It measured a more respectable 70 feet (21 metres) from one edge to the other – making it closer to the size of a fully grown blue whale, but still falling short in comparison.
But of course, these are only models and not the ‘real’ Millennium Falcon (wink!). According to the geek-tastic Wookiepedia online encyclopaedia, the Millennium Falcon is actually a ‘Modified YT-1300f light freighter’ measuring 34.4 metres long and 25.6 metres wide. (Apparently the sizes were worked out by measuring the images in Dorling Kingsley’s book Star Wars Blueprints: The Ultimate Collection.) If accurate, this calculation makes the real Millennium Falcon ever so slightly larger than a blue whale!
So there you have it – while the replica Millennium Falcons are all smaller than a blue whale, the actual space ship is a bit bigger (by about 4 metres). That said, Han Solo would be disappointed to know that his ship still isn’t big enough to carry an adult blue whale in its cargo hold. Stowing a large T-Rex would be easy, however; but then dinosaur space transport is a completely different issue altogether…
Question sent from Stan, aged 5.
Answer by Dr Stu