Colin Cantwell, lead starship designer for Star Wars and CBS analyst for the moon landing, has died. His partner Sierra Dall confirmed The Hollywood Reporter that he died at home in Colorado on Saturday.
Cantwell worked with George Lucas to design and build prototypes for various Star Wars spacecraft, creating memorable designs that would continue to be featured in subsequent movies and games. His projects include the TIE Fighter, X-Wing, Y-Wing, Tantive IV, sandcrawler, landspeeder, and Death Star.
Cantwell also worked on 2001: A Space Odyssey, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and WarGames, for which he created the computer graphics that dramatizes a nuclear launch that would later inspire DEFCON.
Prior to his Hollywood career, Cantwell had worked for NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on educational programs, which is how he ended up becoming CBS’s lead analyst for the moon landing broadcast. It was Cantwell’s job to handle communications between NASA and news anchor Walter Cronkite.
On a Reddit AMA as of 2016, Cantwell recalled the creation of the Death Star. “I didn’t originally plan for the Death Star to have a trench,” he wrote, “but when I was working with the mold, I noticed that the two halves shrunk at the point where they met in the middle. I took a week off work just to fill it up. , sand and refill that depression. So to save myself the trouble, I went to George and suggested a trench. He liked the idea so much that it became one of the most iconic moments in the movie’s history!”