The History of The Millennium Falcon

Michael Heilemann takes us from concept to production of a single, eminent vehicle

There’s not much I love more than deep dives into creative processes, and this particular piece is especially iceberg-y because it’s essentially a double whammy: not only is it the story of how George Lucas and his early collaborators (Colin Cantwell, Ralph McQuarrie) developed the concept of The Millennium Falcon and the stages it went through along the way, it’s also a story of how Michael Heilemann pieced together that history. There are some missing puzzle pieces and some conjectures, but to me that makes this all the more interesting. This is, without a doubt, a real legend. Highlight: Something that I sort of realized but never really considered was that 2001: A Space Odyssey really revolutionized spaceship design. Heilemann touches upon this, showing examples of pre-1960s sci-fi — all the ships are smooth, shiny and chrome. 2001 ushered in the era of greebled surfaces.

(Shoutout to Lian Chang for bringing this one to my attention!)