- "You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?…It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs."
- ―Han Solo
The Kessel Run was an 18-parsec route used by smugglers to move glitterstim spice from Kessel to an area south of the Si'Klaata Cluster without getting caught by the Imperial ships that were guarding the movement of spice from Kessel's mines.
It took travelers in real space around The Maw leading them to an uninhabitable—but far easier to navigate—area of space called The Pit, which was an asteroid cluster encased in a nebula arm making sensors as well as pilots go virtually blind. Thus there was a high chance that pilots, weary from the long flight through real space, would crash into an asteroid.
The Kessel Run was one of the most heavily used smuggling routes in the Galactic Empire. Han Solo claimed that his Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs". A parsec was a unit of distance, not time. Solo was not referring directly to his ship's speed when he made this claim. Instead, he was referring to the shorter route he was able to travel by skirting the nearby Maw black hole cluster, thus making the run in under the standard distance. By moving closer to the black holes, Solo managed to cut the distance down to about 11.5 parsecs.[source?] The smuggler, BoShek, actually beat Solo's record in his ship, Infinity, but without cargo to weigh him down. A few months later, Han Solo beat both his own and BoShek's records in a run he made with Luke Skywalker.
Behind the scenes
"Kessel" means "kettle" or "cauldron" in German, and is also used to describe a "pocket of encircled military units". The Kessel Run most likely gets its name from the real "Kessel runs" that took place in World War II, during the Soviet counter-offensive in the Battle of Stalingrad. During Operation Uranus, the Soviet army managed to encircle about 250 000 soldiers, primarily Germans and Romanians, outside Stalingrad. To aid the units trapped inside this pocket, the German Luftwaffe tried to create an "air-bridge" to supply the besieged army and evacuate wounded soldiers out of the pocket. However, the relief effort met with disaster, as a lack of available aircraft, heavy Soviet anti-aircraft fire and Soviet interceptors made the "Kessel runs" unsuccessful, and the supplies that did make it were often useless.
In A.C. Crispin's Han Solo Trilogy, the Maw cluster of black holes distorts space and time, so the distance of the run is shortened by flying close to it. Han and Chewie make the time (and distance) while racing Salla Zend.
In the A New Hope novelization, Han says "standard time units" rather than "parsecs."
It's the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs! Ben reacts to Solo's stupid attempt to impress them with obvious misinformation.
So it implies that the puzzling speech of Han Solo is "misinformation" and not truth, and it has nothing to do with the nature of the Kessel Run in any respect. Han means nothing other than impressing Obi-Wan and Luke with pure boasting. Indeed, even in the final version of the script, the parentheses attached to Han's line state that he is "obviously lying."
In the commentary for Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope DVD, George Lucas mentions that the parsecs are due to the Millennium Falcon's advanced navigational computer rather than its engines, so the navicomputer would calculate much faster routes than other ships could.
In the video game Spore, one of the available hull parts is called "Kessel Runner".
In the video game World of Warcraft, low-level Draenei characters are given a quest called "The Kessel Run", which involves warning three key figures of a coming attack while riding an elephant like mount. It has a time limit of 15 minutes.
- Star Wars Official Poster Monthly 16
- The Jedi Academy Sourcebook
- "Galaxywide NewsNets"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 10
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Premiere Limited (Card: Kessel Run)
- "Corellian Smuggler"—Shadis 27
- Star Wars Gamemaster Screen, Revised
- "The Unseen Planets of Star Wars"—Star Wars Insider 36
- "Underworld: A Galaxy of Scum and Villainy"—Star Wars Insider 89
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- Scum and Villainy
- "Han Solo: The Early Years"—Star Wars Insider 106
- The Essential Atlas
- The Essential Reader's Companion