In an announcement on his Facebook page Sunday, Cantwell’s partner, Sierra Dall, said he died on Saturday at his home in Colorado.
A shot of the Death Star in “Return Of The Jedi” (1983) Credit: Lucasfilm / Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock
“Colin Cantwell passed away peacefully at his home with me by his side. I will miss him greatly,” she wrote.
Cantwell was best known for designing and constructing prototypes of the X-Wing, Star Destroyer, TIE Fighter, Death Star and other ships for “Star Wars: A New Hope,” the first movie in the blockbuster sci-fi franchise.
Cantwell’s website also noted that he was UCLA’s first animation graduate, after persuading the university to add an animation major.
A scene from “Star Wars Episode IV – A New Hope” (1977) Credit: Lucasfilm / Fox / Kobal / Shutterstock
Before Hollywood came calling he fulfilled his childhood passion for space by working at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, creating educational programs on recent developments in space exploration.
Away from the “Star Wars” franchise, Cantwell’s big-screen contributions include special photographic effects for “2001: A Space Odyssey,” technical dialogue for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and computer graphics design consultant for “WarGames.”