‘Space Engineers’: Build a Millennium Falcon and fly into the future

As dire as things may seem socio-economically, politically, and philosophically, there are a number of truly wonderful developments which are taking mankind on a marvelous journey. My enthusiasm for the Star Wars space vessel, The Millennium Falcon is well chronicled, and one of the most obvious reasons for it is shown during the development of a brand new computer game called Space Engineers. A very clever player in that game during its development phase—as the game is not yet completed–has done in that computer realm what I have long thought will actually happen in the not so distant future. Space vehicles will no longer resemble the old shapes of the past created by stuffy German engineers from the World War II generation, but the ambitious children who grew up on the popular movie series Star Wars. For many years I have thought that the most practical ship design to carry travelers from some space port in Florida, or New York to say a Hilton on the Moon, then to a series of exotic space stations circling the Earth as luxurious resorts was a real Millennium Falcon. Once antigravity technology is mastered, there really isn’t any reason that such a design could not be implemented for such journeys. This is essentially what a player of the new game did; they built a Millennium Falcon in the game and actually made it so it could fly practically with a series of reactors and gyroscopes. The surface propulsion units are distributed the way they actually would be in order to fly through space—and actually solves some of the initial design concerns for future space travel. Have a look.

The new game is exciting to me because it is a prequel to what is coming for the human race. Once human minds behold such concepts, real life implementation is not far behind. Chris Lee is already building a full-sized Millennium Falcon in Nashville, Tennessee and private investors are moving into independent space travel presently eclipsing the efforts of governments over the years. It is not so outlandish any longer to behold that a real Millennium Falcon could be built and flown about in space. The new game Space Engineers allows for such things. It looks to be the new Minecraft, a game so popular that school teachers are often playing it during their class time in school from their laptops. Minecraft is not popular because the graphics are so pristine, but because the creativity the game allows encourages thought, and human beings in spite of the trends in the other direction which are mostly self-imposed destruction—love to think. In Space Engineers one of the most dominant early designs of ships which can fly are those from Star Wars. The mechanics in Space Engineers are like Lego blocks, only in a computer environment. This allows human beings to build virtually anything and everything they desire—much the way children do. Adults have the same yearnings, and it is not an accident that one of the first ships built-in Space Engineers is a Millennium Falcon, one that can be walked around in, and flown from one point to another. Other ships built have been some of the large capital ships fully rendered in scale which can actually be piloted.

From the game designer’s website a space engineer is a professional practitioner who uses scientific knowledge, mathematics, physics, astronomy, propulsion technology, materials science, structural analysis, manufacturing and ingenuity to solve practical problems in space.
Space engineers design materials, structures and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality, regulation, safety, ethicality and cost. Space engineers are grounded in applied sciences and their work in research and development is distinct from the basic research focus of space scientists.
Practical solutions:

  • engineering, construction and maintenance of space works: open-space stations, asteroid stations, space crafts of all sizes and utilization (civil and military), remote sensing technology, artificial gravity generators
  • asteroid mining (mostly near a construction site)
  • maintaining lines of transport and communications
  • industrial and scientific research, development and exploration

In war times, space engineering involves military engineering as well. Such tasks typically include construction and demolition tasks under combat conditions.
Military engineers use practices and techniques of camouflage, reconnaissance, communication methods and enhancement of survival by other troops. They are also responsible for construction rigging, the use of explosives and carrying out demolitions, camouflage erection, battleship construction and design, field fortification construction, artillery outpost construction, obstacle clearance, obstacle construction, assault of fortifications, the use of assault ships in obstacle crossings, expedient space station construction, general construction, route reconnaissance, and communication installations. They are also responsible for logistics behind military tactics.

Space engineers are in a high demand, especially since the Second Space Race of 2029.  They take pride in their ability to get the job done right—no matter how big, how complex or how remote.
The word “engineer” derives from the Latin root ingeniare (“to contrive, devise”) and ingenium (“cleverness”).


  • Game modes

– Creative – unlimited resources, instant building, no death – Survival – realistic management of resources and inventory capacity; manual building; death/respawn

  • Single-player – you are the sole space engineer
  • Multiplayer

        – Creative and survival mode with your friends
– Cooperative and competitive
– Privacy customization: offline, private, friends only, public
– Max 16 players (this may increase in the future)
– Weapons on/off
– Copy-paste on/off

  • Scenarios

– Easy Start 1 – start on an asteroid platform with one large ship and two small ships
– Easy Start 2 – start in a green asteroid station with several large and small ships (large scene!)
– Lone Survivor – start on an abandoned asteroid platform with no ships
– Crashed Red Ship – your mother ship just crashed…
– Two Platforms – competitive two-team multi-player world
– Asteroids – start in a rescue ship with very limited resources
– Empty World – no asteroids, no ships; suitable for creative mode

Dedicated servers – allow players to connect to a third-party host, rather than using a player-host, in a peer-to-peer set-up. The result is a faster connection and a more fluent multiplayer performance with less lag

  • Ships (small and large) – build and pilot them
  • Space stations
  • First-person & Third-person
  • Drilling / harvesting
  • Manual building in survival mode – use welder to assemble blocks from components; use grinder to disassemble and reuse components
  • Deformable and destructible objects – real proportions, mass, storage capacity, integrity
  • Building blocks – light armor (cube, slope, corner), heavy armor, interior wall, interior light, small cockpit, large cockpit, cargo container(s), drill, ore detector, gravity generator, nuclear reactor, thruster, gyroscope, assembler, medical room, magnetic landing gears, spotlight, catwalk, cover wall, stairs, ramp, window(s), pillar, decoy, wheels, automated turrets, weapons, artificial mass, conveyor, collector, connector, merge block

Magnetic landing gears – attach your ship to a surface (another ship or asteroid)

Electricity – all blocks in a grid are wired in an electrical and computer network; electricity is generated by nuclear reactors

  • Gravity – produced by gravity generators
  • Rotors – create rotating objects
  • Refinery – process harvested ore to ingots
  • Assembler – manufacture components from ingots
  • Symmetry/Mirroring – useful in creative mode when building structures that require symmetry
  • Weapons – automatic rifle, small and large explosive warheads, small ship gatling gun, small ship missile launcher
  • Large weapons – missile launcher (for large ships)

Solar panels – produce energy depending on the amount of light that they catch from the sun

World management – generate new worlds, “save as” to multiple copies, auto-save every 5 minutes (can be turned on/off), edit world settings

32-bit & 64-bit – 64-bit version expands the amount of objects, ships and asteroids (almost unlimited)

Steam Workshop – share your creations with the Community (upload and download worlds)

  • Modding – world files, shaders, textures, 3D models
  • Localized interface (work in progress) – Czech, Danish, Dutch, German, Icelandic, Polish, Spanish-Spain, Spanish-Latin America, Finnish, French, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese-Brazil, Estonian, Norwegian, Swedish, Slovak, Ukrainian, Russian
  • Custom colors for blocks – Customize your creations by using any color you like
  • Cargo ships – auto-piloted vessels (miners, freighters and military) that carry ore, ingots, constructions components and other materials from sector to sector. They can be looted but beware, they often contain booby traps!
  • Environmental hazards – protect your character and your creations from meteor storms (Safe, Normal, Cataclysm, Armageddon)
  • Conveyor, Collector, Connector (IMPORTANT: this is a first work-in-progress version and a realistic version will be added later) – Conveyors move items from inventory to inventory. Collectors can collect small objects (ore, ingots, components, tools) into inventory. Connectors can throw items from inventory to space (in future update could be used to connect two ships/stations and transfer items).  Gameplay note: Explanation of pull & push principles in conveyor system
  • Artificial mass – can be used to add gravity-affected mass to ships, useful in machine ships or cars
  • Wheels – use them with rotors and artificial mass to build vehicles
  • Automated turrets – gatling, missile and interior. Turrets are used mostly as defense mechanism rather than shooting other players. They aim on decoys (automatically by default), meteorites, missiles or all moving objects (eg. small/large ships) – targeting can be changed in the control panel
  • Large/small ship grinder and welder – assemble and disassemble blocks faster and in larger amount


Now, what can be better than all of that! What’s best is the game is designed to be step over between the science past and the science future. It is a new generation of massive online gaming that is intelligently based, and it is certain that current players will be tomorrow’s actual Space Engineers—who will realistically design these kinds of things in the next couple of decades. It would not surprise me to find that in the not too distant future, I will be able to build a real Millennium Falcon and actually fly it around from colonies on Mars, to the Moon and anywhere else human beings settle in space within the next 100 years.

Imagination is taking us to that space destination. Education systems have not kept up and have outdated themselves to inventions like this latest remarkable game. Humans are naturally inclined to the kind of creativity they can experience in these types of games, and are quickly outgrowing the terrestrial limits of earth and its small-minded politics. Seeing The Millennium Falcon flying around in Space Engineers is the first indication of what the future will look like as today’s game players invent a reality to play out the images painted across their minds born of creativity. The origin of much of this creativity will be the familiar Millennium Falcon as millions share with me the desire to actually walk around and fly the real thing first introduced to their imaginations in the Star Wars saga. Space Engineers is an exciting game, and is a step into a future that is much more ambitious than anyone previously thought. It is a window into a future that will not be rooted in the limitations of oppression driven by ignorance, but the unknowable extension of the human imagination and what it can build if restrictions are removed.

Rich Hoffman