Tuesday, 01 January 2013 05:30
January 1, 2013
Star Wars fans across the world are being encouraged to take part in an ambitious engineering research project that will see the recreation of the only ship to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
The brainchild of Nashville-based Chris Lee, the Full Scale Millenium Falcon Project is an internet-driven crowdsourced labor of love which will rely entirely on the efforts of volunteers to build a life-size model of the famous spacecraft. According to the BBC, Lee has already purchased 88-acres of land near his home in Tennessee and there are ambitious plans to use the Falcon as a workshop for students interested in STEM - science, technology, engineering, mathematics - to hone and practice their skills.
Bucket of bolts
The scale of the project has not been lost on Lee, who admits that building the "fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy" could take some time. With no real budget to speak of, the Falcon will be assembled by an army of fans across the world, all of whom will be using blueprints published online to ensure that the Corellian freighter is built to the specifications required.
According to Lee, the full-size version will be slightly larger than the exterior sets used in the movies, with engineers expecting the Falcon to be 114 feet long and have a height (excluding the quad-laser turret) of approximately 24.9 feet. The project is proceeding slowly, but the console has already been completed, as well as one of the two laser guns that were used to help the ship "escape" from the Death Star.
What makes this project unique is the fact that most of the contributors have never met. Lee has used the internet to source his co-workers and engineers, all of whom have been allocated pieces of the ship to build depending on their level of expertise and the engineering tools at their disposal.
Despite the Millenium Falcon being a fictional creation, Lee wants to ensure that the replica is exact in every detail, a situation that has been helped by the fact that George Lucas has given them permission to proceed.
Although this is a crowd-sourced engineering project, the team has not approached any of the traditional avenues of investment for funding. This is down to an arrangement that Lee has with Lucasfilm, the owners of the intellectual property rights, and while he expects the total cost of building the Falcon to be "anywhere between $200,000 to $800,000," he is conscious that the success of the venture depends on the fans.
"That's part of the fun," said Lee, in a recent interview with the BBC. "The journey is the reward, as they say. The excitement of the build, and of friends and fans working together on a group project is what we are going for. It will be expensive. It's also a labor of love. Everything it takes to make the project a reality is coming from us, the fans. That's why it has moved at the pace that it has so far."
The aim is to build workshops at the site so that the larger pieces can be constructed without the need for shipping, reducing the chances of damage in transit. Lee anticipates that it could take at least five years to complete, although the workshops will be ready by mid-2013.
When the project is finished, the Millenium Falcon will sit in a specially cleared plot of land approximately 60 minutes north of Nashville, and will be available to view from a number of vantage points. After all, she may not look like much, but she has got it where it counts.
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