One of the great minds behind Star Wars has passed away. Colin Cantwell, creator of the prototype for the Death Star and a designer who worked on a plethora of science fiction movies, died at 90, Deadline reports.
It wasn’t just the superweapon used by the Empire that Cantwell had his fingerprints on. He’d worked on versions of the X-wing, TIE Fighter, the landspeeder, and Star Destroyer as well. Though he didn’t make the Millennium Falcon, he did make the Tantine IV, the ship that was originally going to be Han and Chewie’s transport of choice. One of his prototypes went on to be part of Solo: A Star Wars Story, showing that his legacy is still strong within the franchise.
Besides a galaxy far, far away, Cantwell contributed to two of the best movies ever made – 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He worked on the effects of the former, and some of the alien dialogue on the latter, integral aspects of the cinematic wizardry.
Cantwell wasn’t just limited to space on the big screen either. He worked for NASA before turning to filmmaking, and spearheaded the audio technology that allowed the live telecast of the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969.
Not one for the spotlight, Cantwell’s achievements were the subject of his personal collection for much of his life. According to a 2017 report from The Denver Post, it wasn’t until the filmmaker and his partner had to quickly move properties within their building that all his treasures were unearth. Some were put to auction as space for storage became limited.
Cantwell is survived by Dall, with whom he’s been with for over two decades.