The Millennium Falcon gets its speed from the jet engine at the back, but when Han Solo drives out of lightspeed, he gets out of it really quickly. However, in space without atmosphere, it doesn't seem to make sense that it just stops instantly without anything slowing it down. How do they slow it down?

  • 4
    "The Millenium Falcon gets its speed from the jet engine at the back" A jet engine needs oxygen (sourced from an atmosphere) but even a rocket engine (carries all its own oxidant) or reaction engine could not push a craft past the speed of light. Jan 4, 2016 at 11:35
  • I'm not well versed in physics, so I used jet engine because that's the closest I can compare it to. Thanks for the explanation however. My question is what causes it to stop? It only has the engine in the back and they slow down in the same direction they're facing when they accelerated to light speed.
    – Yousend
    Jan 4, 2016 at 14:20
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    (shrug) When a movie franchise bases space battle on WWII fighter planes, I think it is pointless to question other aspects of the physics. Jan 4, 2016 at 14:32
  • According to starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Millennium_Falcon it uses a sublight engine, not a jet engine Jan 4, 2016 at 14:38
  • My question is how does it slow down? It can't slow down that fast without atmosphere and gravity pull probably does not affect it that much.
    – Yousend
    Jan 4, 2016 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


Because they're not actually travelling at light speed.

They never actually accelerate to the speed of light in Star Wars, they instead enter a "hyperspace dimension" where they happen to travel through at faster than light speeds. As a commenter noted, there was an evolution through the movies and the SW universe, so there is some adjustment needed depending on which movie you're looking at. There are a myriad of styles of hyperspace in popular culture, but here are the three most commonly known

Hyperspace is a dimension in Star Wars has to take into effect the mass shadows of stars and planetary bodies. You can finish a hyperspace jump inside a planet (although it's not a good idea, as we seen in TFA), but you have to be outside the gravity well before you can jump into hyperspace again Because of this, there are known routes that are travelled between known locations, and there is very little deviation from those routes. You're moving at the same speed, but the amount of distance covered is massive. This is most akin to a seafaring vessel sliding into gulf stream, and being pulled in a predefined direction faster than a ship could normally travel by itself... as soon as you exit the stream, you slow down to your normal boat speed.

Warp speed from Star Trek, where they warp spacetime around the ship to accelerate the ship. Because space itself is being warped, they really only have to worry about running into things when they leave the warp bubble. To use the boat analogy again, this is similar to a hydrofoil or ektoplane, where you're travelling through the water, but not really fully in the water.

FTL travel from Battlestar Galactica (new) was actually not FTL, but rather folding space... moving the entire ship and a chunk of the surrounding area to a physical location instantaneously. They just call it FTL because it IS faster than light, but it isn't actually accelerating faster than light. You can see the pros and cons of this when you see a ship do a jump inside a larger ship (taking a chunk of the other ship with them) and later when some Raptors do a jump inside the atmosphere of a planet (and one miscalculates, jumps inside a mountain). This one doesn't have a seafaring analog, but is also the same style of travel in Battlefield: Earth (the book).

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    In A New Hope, Ben Kenobi definitely asks Han Solo "how long before you can make the jump to lightspeed?". So it's easy to get confused, probably.
    – TylerH
    Jan 4, 2016 at 16:28
  • So Hyperspace is essentially a dimension like a wormhole? Where you would remain at the same speed, but take shortcuts? A stream has water and friction to slow it down. While outer space, does not. (I'm assuming a galaxy far, far away has the same emptiness as solar system)
    – Yousend
    Jan 4, 2016 at 19:14
  • I would say a more fitting boat analogy for warp speed is for the ship to sit in still water, but this area of water moves, as a whole. It's as if there's a lake in the ocean and while the water in the lake doesn't move, the lake itself moves in the ocean faster than light.
    – Tobberoth
    Jan 11, 2016 at 11:52
  • Someone brought up that there are multiple types/speeds of hyperdrives (0.5 to 10) in Star Wars, which makes my boat analogy not work. A better one would be that the difference between Subspace and Hyperspace would be more like the difference between a car (can go anywhere) and a train (can move more quickly/efficiently, but only in predefined directions), each at various speeds.
    – Vogie
    Jan 11, 2016 at 13:58
  • "They never actually accelerate to the speed of light in Star Wars," is, at best, incomplete, because we do see the craft accelerating. That's what the streaks visible during the jump to light speed are: the background stars smeared out by the sudden burst of speed.
    – Buzz
    Nov 25, 2020 at 18:30

Based on this article on Hyperdrives, there isn't a canon answer.

Upon exiting hyperspace an unknown technology was used to decelerate the starship.

But based on this article, ships equipped with sublight drives have other means to actually maneuver, similar to a modern jet engine craft.

Also, from the first article

To enter hyperspace, the starship's pilot would enter commands via paralight system, a combination of mechanical and electro-optical subsystems that translated the commands into a set of corresponding reactions within the hyperdrive power plants.

Based on this information, it probably boils down to the flight computer being knows the correct reactions needed in order to provide the deceleration necessary to give the full stop effect when leaving hyperspace.

  • Those are in the legends not canon
    – Firestryke
    Nov 25, 2020 at 15:51

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