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Blog Dec 16, 2019

The Cost of Powering the Millennium Falcon

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Despite its humble beginnings as Lando Calrissian’s dingy interstellar ride, the famed Millennium Falcon is now perhaps the most beloved spaceship of all time—fictional or otherwise. A Star Wars favorite since the saga’s very first episode, the Falcon may look like a junker, but it’s anything but.

Widely known as the flying saucer of choice for smugglers Han Solo (played by Harrison Ford) and his furry first mate Chewbacca, the Millenium Falcon has inspired sci-fi lovers for generations. 

After watching the Falcon rip through intergalactic spacetime, it’s got us wondering: it can’t have the best gas mileage, can it? But seriously, what’s it cost to keep something like the Millennium Falcon going? In anticipation of the latest Star Wars sequel, we decided to do the math ourselves finally.

Millennium Falcon Input Costs

There’s a lot that goes into maintaining and constructing a YT-1300 light freighter spaceship. For starters, the Falcon boasts some of the most sophisticated technology in the known universe, including:

  • Navigation system: Rubicon navicomputer and micro-axial HyD modular navigation
  • Sensor system: Fabritech ANq-51 sensor array computer
  • Hyperdrive system: Isu-Sim SSP05 
  • Escape craft: Model CEC Class-1s
  • Armament: ST2 concussion missiles, BlasTech Ax-108 blaster cannons, tractor beams
  • Hull body: Buralloy plating (34.5 meters long by 7.8 meters high)

Unfortunately, virtually of the high-tech specs listed above don’t exist in the real world. However, we brainstormed some of their closest real-life comparables to give us a general idea of what it might cost if an aerospace or defense contractors had built it:

  • Rubicon navicomputer: Intel Core i9-9900KS ($513)
  • Fabritech Anq-51: 12m SKA antenna ($642 million)
  • Isu-Sim SSP05: Large Hadron Collider ($5 billion)
  • BlasTech Ax-108: US Laser Weapon System ($40 million)
  • ST2 concussion missiles: Tomahawk cruise missiles ($1.5 million each)
  • Buralloy hull plating: 5-inch magnesium alloy ($1 million)

If we add the cost of the ancillary items listed above, we get a figure of roughly $5.7 billion, assuming that the ship carries at least 15 concussion missiles. But, we’re not done yet—in fact, we’re only getting started. Now, let’s take a look at what it costs to run and power the Millennium Falcon.

Powering the Falcon

The Millennium Falcon is powered by a fictional Quadrex power core that resembles a real-life nuclear propulsion reactor. The United States Navy currently owns two fleets of submarines that are powered by an onboard nuclear reactor, so we used these ships as comparables.

Generally, a nuclear propulsion reactor costs about $100 million. However, recent estimates project that the US Navy’s nuclear-powered Columbia-class submarines are going to cost a whopping $9.5 billion apiece in the fiscal year 2021. 

Let’s assume that the cost of one nuclear powered Columbia-class US Navy submarine compares to the cost of a Quadrex power core reactor. In this case, the cost of the Millennium Falcon rises to $15.2 billion—and we’re still only getting started.

Staffing the Falcon

Now that we know how much it costs to build the Millennium Falcon and keep the vehicle powered, we need to know what it costs to staff a ship of this magnitude. 

According to the Star Wars films, we know that it only requires a pilot and co-pilot duo to operate the vehicle. But if we’re going to spend this kind of money on an intergalactic fighter jet, we’re going to want to hire a supporting cast of expert pilots and gunners to help out. 

A NASA-trained pilot and co-pilot (assuming the roles of Chewie and Hans Solo) are going to cost about $130,000 in annual salaries. Then we’re going to need to hire four gunners to help carry out combat operations, which cost about $58,000 each. 

If you add up the staffing costs listed above, we’ve got an additional $500,000 in annual staffing costs just to pilot and arm the Falcon with trained personnel. But, we’re not finished.

Maintaining the Falcon

When you’re not in the air (or outer space), you’re going to need a maintenance crew to repair, clean, and test the various components in the ship. We used a Los Angeles-class US Navy submarine as a comparable for estimating the maintenance costs of the Falcon:

  • Replacement parts: $1 million per year
  • Maintenance manhours: $500,000 annually
  • Mechanical manhours: $1 million annually

With the three expenses above added onto our budget, we’re looking at an extra $2.5 million every year on repairs, cleaning, and testing. After all, deep space warfare and dogfighting should take a toll on the equipment.

Fueling the Falcon

There are still a few more things that need to be accounted for before we attempt to make the Kessel Run in a mere twelve parsecs. We’re going to need fuel. Unlike your typical gas-guzzler, the Falcon runs on Quadrex fuel rods that need to be water-cooled and a network of batteries that need to be charged at a docking station.

  • Fuel cell recharging: $3,000 annually
  • Ship docking: $1 million annually
  • Food and water: $25,000 annually

Fueling both the reactor core and the staff that man the ship can run up quite the recurring cost. As the captain of the Millennium Falcon, you’re looking at a hefty $1,028,000 every year just to keep the thing afloat—and that’s not including intergalactic taxes, either!

Adding It All Up

There we have it, all the costs that go into constructing and maintaining a real-world Millennium Falcon. Now, the final step—adding it all together.

  • Fuel: $1,028,000 annually
  • Maintenance: $2.5 million annually
  • Staff: $500,000 annually
  • Power: $12.5 billion
  • Construction: $5.7 billion

Based on the above figures, we can conclude that the Falcon costs $18.2 billion to assemble and power with an onboard nuclear reactor. Then, we’re looking at an additional $4,028,000 in recurring annual expenses to keep the machine afloat with staffing and maintenance costs.

It turns out that the Falcon’s not such a clunker after all. With above $18 billion worth of equipment inside it, the Millennium Falcon is a ride reserved for only the absolute wealthiest in our galaxy. 

 

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