Podracing in Star Wars: Episode I looks cool but, let’s face facts, there is no way that kind of contraption could function in real life, right? No more than a Thunderhawk from M.A.S.K. with a dozen bottle rockets strapped to it should drive in a straight line (I speak from personal experience.)
Though humankind currently lacks the technology (and poor decision-making) necessary to build a podracer in real life, there is an environment where we can have an accurate look at how challenging and dangerous it is: Kerbal Space Program, whose demanding physics engine supplies a lot of the comedy, intentional and otherwise, in the space exploration simulator.
While nonstop demolition derby comedy is always fun to watch (especially set to a jaunty orchestral score), that’s not really the payoff to this video. Watch as Joey Gil, despite repeated, humiliating, frustrating failure and destruction, actually gets a vehicle to work. Behold, the Jar-Jar Mark V (at 9 minutes of this video).
It’s legitimately inspiring to see Gil’s podracer fly beautifully for 7 minutes, 56 seconds, airfoils fanning out gracefully to slow down at the end. That’s discovery! That’s science! That’s awesome. I need a tissue.
The podracer was built for an ongoing Kerbal Space Program challenge of competing antigravity racers. “I’m the only one to build a triple hull (with triple the drag) along with a very unstable cable connection,” Gil says.
But he’s not stopping there. He’s back working on a Jar-Jar Mark VIII “supersonic” that’s apparently so fast parts start flaking off of it. Godspeed!