In what seems to be a tradition now, a group at MIT imagined how the Millennium Falcon would perform if it lost its engines during atmospheric flight. Their hypothetical scenario took place in the Battle of Endor, with the Falcon flying at an altitude of 2 kilometers.* Could Han Solo and Chewbecca safely glide the craft down?

Using computational fluid dynamics, the group found the Millennium Falcon has a glide ratio of only 1.8, meaning it travels forward 1.8 kilometers in the time it takes to lose one kilometer of altitude. Its namesake bird, on the other hand, has a glide ratio of 10. The Corellian freighter might not be the best glider out there, but the team estimated that it could safely manage its 3.6 kilometer glide down. (Image credit: S. Costa et al.; see also X-Wing Re-entry and AT-AT Flow)

*I’m definitely overthinking this, but now I’m really wondering what atmospheric characteristics they used for Endor. And what’s Endor’s gravity like?

1. ##### Charlie Stross May 6, 2024 at 9:56 am

@admin Footnote: the Space Shuttle flew like a brick but had a glide ratio of 4.5:1 at subsonic speeds (approach and touchdown).

Most airliners are around 20:1, and a glider can be as high as 70:1 (but usually 30-50:1).

1. ##### Nicole Sharp May 6, 2024 at 2:50 pm Reply

Yup. “Flying brick” is actually one of my favorite descriptors for the Shuttle. But in its defense, the Shuttle needed all that drag in order to shed its orbital velocity.

2. ##### Naxes June 18, 2024 at 12:11 am Reply

Wait, so we’re just going to gloss over the fact that Han and Chewie are down on Endor during the battle and the Falcon is actually flown by Lando? What passes for peer review at MIT these days?

Also 1.8? That’s a pretty good glide ratio for a skydiver prior to opening their chute, but that’s the only favourable comparison I can come up with. Given this was at 300m/s and 20 degree AoA, they are coming in on a 29 degree flight path 9 degrees nose down into the Endor jungle at about Mach 1. This is a definition of a safe glide I have not encountered before.

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