The Death Stars were the first in a long series of superweapons developed to execute the Tarkin Doctrine, but whose concept had been explored even before the Clone Wars. The Death Star was designed to allow Emperor Palpatine to more directly control the Galactic Empire through fear. In most instances, a Death Star was to be commanded by a Moff.
One Death Star was completely built by the Empire, with the second one never reaching full completion, as well as a prototype being in existence. In addition, a scaled-down version, the Tarkin, and a Hutt knockoff, the Darksaber, would be created by the Empire and Durga the Hutt, respectively.
Both Death Stars were destroyed by the Rebel Alliance shortly after they became operational, with the first Death Star destroyed by Luke Skywalker, with the help of Han Solo, and the second one destroyed by Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian. Following their destruction, other planet-devastating superweapons followed, including the Galaxy Gun, the Sun Crusher, and the World Devastators.
The Death Stars, the Galactic Empire's ultimate terror weapons, were battle stations several hundred kilometers in diameter and mounting a directed energy superlaser capable of completely destroying a planet with a single shot. However, the first Death Star's defenses were not tight enough to stop starfighters from penetrating them.
The first Death Star was 160 kilometers in diameter, while the second Death Star was 900 kilometers in diameter. Much of its interior space was devoted to systems required to maintain its massive superlaser and power plant. At the heart of each Death Star was a gigantic hypermatter reactor, which possessed an output equal to that of several main-sequence stars. Within this chamber burned a reaction of prodigious proportions, fed by stellar fuel bottles lining its periphery.
Splitting the station into two equal hemispheres was a huge equatorial trench approximately 503 kilometers in length for the first Death Star and 2,827 kilometers for the second Death Star. This area of the station housed most of the major landing bays, drive thrusters, sensor arrays and tractor beam systems. Halfway between the equator and each pole were two supplementary trenches. The Death Star was divided into 24 zones, 12 per hemisphere, each controlled by a "bridge". To further organize the immense amount of activity aboard, there were specific "sectors" denoting function. These included the General, Command, Military, Security, Service, and Technical sectors.
Since service onboard the Death Star was a long-term affair, the station maintained a number of civilian amenities to make the time aboard a deep space station more comfortable. Parks, shopping centers, recreation areas, and taverns such as the Hard Heart cantina could be found in the general sectors of the station.
Facilitating the Death Star's realspace propulsion were a network of powerful ion engines that transformed reactor power into needed thrust. In order for the Death Star to be a deadly threat, it needed to be mobile. Using linked banks of 123 hyperdrive field generators tied into a single navigational matrix, the Death Star could travel across the Galaxy at superluminal velocities. The incredible energies harnessed by the station combined with its great mass gave the Death Star magnetic and artificial gravitational fields equal to those found on orbital bodies many times greater in size.
The Death Star's superlaser derived power directly from the hypermatter reactor. Its faceted amplification crystal combined the destructive power of eight separate tributary beams into one single blast with the intensity of a stellar core. Though the energy output of this blast could be scaled to fire at smaller targets such as capital ships, as was the case during the Rebel assault on the second Death Star, the two major instances in which the superlaser was fired were at full power at planetary bodies.
The Death Star's interior followed two orientations. Those areas closest to the surface were built with concentric decks with gravity oriented towards the Death Star's core. Past this shell of surface "sprawls", the Death Star's interior had stacked decks with gravity pointing toward the station's southern pole.
Besides, attacking that battlestation ain't my idea of courage. It's more like… suicide.—Han Solo, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
The Death Star was born in the mind of Raith Sienar, who had conceived of it as an Expeditionary Battle Planetoid. He shared his idea with his friend Captain Wilhuff Tarkin, who presented it to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine. Palpatine, as Sith Lord Darth Sidious, gave the designs to his apprentice, Separatist leader Count Dooku. Dooku then presented the designs to Geonosian Industries for further technical modifications.
During the Battle of Geonosis, Archduke Poggle the Lesser, leader of the Geonosians, returned the top-secret designs to Count Dooku to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Jedi. Dooku took the designs back to Coruscant and gave them to Darth Sidious, his dark master.
The 501st Legion was sent to Mygeeto during the Clone Wars to collect an ancient Mygeetan crystal which was an experimental power source that the Chancellor required for a top-secret tributary laser-stream project codenamed "Hammertong," which would be used on the first Death Star.
Darth Sidious later ordered the Death Star's construction after the Galactic Empire was formed, in order to secure his new-formed absolute power. Wilhuff Tarkin was appointed to mastermind the secret development project, though other stories have it that Raith Sienar was the superweapon's creator. Tarkin's creative work and thought resulted in the realization of the Death Star as the Empire's ultimate weapon.
After the beginning of the Great Jedi Purge, an assault was led on the planet Kashyyyk to enslave the native Wookiees for the Death Star's construction. Various prison planets were also known to have their captives unwittingly construct various sections of the station. The Empire also had Mrlssi scientists working on some of the technology that would go into the station.
Nevertheless, the project nearly ended before it began. Because much of the technology of the Death Star was impressive, actually building it proved to be more difficult than anyone imagined. Efforts were not helped by repeated (and often unsuccessful) sabotage efforts.
Of particular concern was the technology required to create the massive superlaser, the heart of the weapon. To this end, Tarkin brought together some of the most brilliant minds of the Galaxy, including Tol Sivron, Qwi Xux, and Bevel Lemelisk, and built a proof-of-concept model at the Maw Installation. This model would eventually become known as the Death Star Prototype. These scientists also found and corrected several flaws in the Geonosian blueprints, which had been used in that phase of construction. Renowned physicist Rorax Falken worked with the Empire at some point during the construction of the Death Star, though he was not aware that his ideas and knowledge were being used for a battlestation.
With the concept completed and the plans finalized, Lemelisk took the plans to Despayre, where construction would finally be completed after twenty years of hard work and the death of many individuals. In celebration, the Death Star turned its massive weapon on Despayre itself, completely destroying it.
During its construction, the Death Star was home to countless prisoners of the Empire, from political opponents to pirate gangs to Rebel saboteurs. These prisoners managed to break out and riot in the Death Star, but were put down by the 501st Legion. However, some managed to escape with a partial set of the plans and some Imperial data.
Don't be too proud of this technological terror you've constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.—Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
Galen Marek travelled to the Death Star to free Bail Organa, Rahm Kota, and rest of the founders of the Rebel Alliance including Mon Mothma. He fought Darth Vader in the corridor leading to the Sidious' Observation Chamber. He severely injured the Sith Lord and Palpatine urged Galen to kill Vader. Galen instead attacked Sidious himself. The pair dueled viciously with the force and lightsaber combat. Galen sacrificed his life in an explosion which allowed the Rebels to escape. He was honored by the Alliance when his family crest was used as their symbol.
Just after construction was completed, the other set of Death Star plans was discovered by Rebel spies on a secret signal interceptions asteroid outpost, AX-235; the Rebellion moved on and in the borders of Operation Skyhook, a copy of the plans was stolen by Kyle Katarn from Danuta and finally reached Leia Organa. Later, while attempting to recruit Obi-Wan Kenobi to the rebel cause, Leia's vessel,Tantive IV was attacked by the Star Destroyer Devastator above Tatooine. Leia, before being captured, transmitted the plans in R2-D2 and sent them to Obi-Wan Kenobi on Tatooine. Upon arriving at Alderaan, which had been destroyed by the Death Star, Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, Kenobi, and Chewbacca mistook the station for a small moon while following a lone TIE/ln starfighter.
The quartet was soon captured, but after escaping from the Death Star with Leia, the plans to the station were transported by Princess Leia with their help to Rebel leaders on Yavin IV. Soon after, the Death Star arrived to destroy the rebel base. Luke Skywalker piloted a T-65 X-wing starfighter through a minor trench on the surface of the Death Star, evading pursuit by Darth Vader long enough to launch a proton torpedo down an exhaust shaft that reached down into the "reactor core". This caused a chain reaction that destroyed the battle station just before it could fire on the Rebel base. This fatal design flaw resulted in protracted litigation between the Empire and numerous military contractors.
But Luke… How many Imperial soldiers died when that space station exploded? Were some of them good men? Have you ever considered that? No… I don't think you have.—Janek Sunber, Star Wars Rebellion 4: My Brother, My Enemy, Part 4
Nearly four years later, Bothan spies stole the plans of the second Death Star, unaware that their theft was orchestrated by Emperor Palpatine, having agreed to a suggestion personally made to him by Black Sun leader Prince Xizor. General Crix Madine and Admiral Ackbar devised a plan for the destruction of the new Death Star. Han Solo led a team to the forest moon of Endor to destroy the shield generator there. The plan called for a group of fighters and the Millennium Falcon piloted by Lando Calrissian to attack the Death Star upon destruction of the shield generator. The fighters flew into the center of the station through a narrow maze of pipes to destroy the reactor directly and rushed out in just enough time to escape the ensuing explosion before the station could carry out its final order: destroying the Sanctuary Moon of Endor.
Around the same time the Geonosians were designing their Ultimate Weapon, Raith Sienar was designing a battlestation (apparently without a superlaser) of similar size and prestige. The best elements of both were apparently merged together with final detail work taking place in the secret Maw Cluster near Kessel. This laboratory completed a scaled-down prototype that was later destroyed by the New Republic.
Both Death Stars were defended by hundreds of shield projectors, and thousands of turbolasers, ion cannons and laser cannons. The first one contained a compliment of seven to nine thousand TIE fighters, along with tens of thousands of support craft, bombers, and gunships. Massive docking bays provided several Star Destroyers with drydocks, and more than a million Imperial personnell were on board both battle stations.
One drawback of the original design was the power systems. Twenty-four hours were required to fully charge the laser. However, even low power shots were capable of massive destruction on a planetary scale. The second Death Star had redesigned systems and was capable of firing the superlaser once every three minutes. It also had improved targeting computers, allowing it to fire the weapon accurately at capital ships.
There were small gaps in the shields of the first Death Star; the Empire believed that this was harmless since only small ships could wiggle through the gaps. The shields of the second Death Star would have had no such gaps.
The second Death Star also corrected several other flaws in the original design. The two-meter exhaust vent that doomed the first station was replaced with millions of millimeter wide tubes, each designed to seal if excess energy was detected. The second station also boasted far more turbolaser batteries with redesigned targeting systems, allowing them to target starfighters more easily. The greatest concentration of turbolasers was located near the Emperor's throne tower.
Durga the Hutt also built a small version with only the central laser core and a small living quarters, which was destroyed in the asteroid field around Hoth. This was known as the Darksaber, but shoddy construction techniques and substandard components meant that this attempt was an abject failure even before its destruction.
Behind the scenesEdit
According to the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections fact book, the first Death Star in A New Hope was 160 kilometers in diameter. According to the Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy fact book and detailed scaling of the station in Return of the Jedi, the second Death Star was 900 kilometers in diameter. Some Expanded Universe sources state much smaller figures—120 kilometers for the first Death Star and 160 kilometers for the second—however, most of the evidence argues for the larger sizes.
In the Italian version of Star Wars, the Death Star is called "Morte Nera", which literally means "Black Death".
The Death Star is available as a cheat in Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns. It acts like an air cruiser unit, but is much slower. It more than makes up for its speed with excessive hit points, shielding, armor, and the most powerful attack in the game--any object on the map, even trees and rocks disappear after the Death Star fires. It is virtually impossible to destroy it. There is a limit on the the number of Death Stars the player can conjure up at any time.
A number of Death Star battle stations appear in sources of uncertain canonicity. The Star Tours theme-park ride includes another battlemoon at Endor, clearly different than the one seen in Return of the Jedi, while the French-language RPG Magazine Casus Belli 99 includes another prototype, named the Nocturnô.
Mimas, the smallest and innermost of seven major moons orbiting the planet Saturn, is notable for a single enormous impact crater called Herschel. The appearance of Mimas and Herschel in pictures taken during the space probe Voyager 1's 1980 flyby of the Saturn system showed a similarity to the first Death Star, with Herschel appearing as the superlaser disc, as remarked upon in the scientific press. This resemblance became one of Mimas's most notable characteristics in astronomy and popular culture.
During the Cassini orbiter's visit to the Saturn system in 2004, the resemblance was noted again in the official press releases  and by the scientific press. However, Cassini's more recent images of Mimas do not all resemble a Death Star orbiting Saturn, as the moon is more egg-shaped than the battlestation.
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast Template:Gamecameo
- Soulcalibur IV
- Star Wars: Rebellion
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Death Stars I and II)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga (Death Stars I and II)
- Star Wars toy line
- Star Wars: The Power of the Force (1995)
- Star Wars: Expanded Universe toy line
- Star Wars: Power of the Jedi
- Death Star Technical Companion
- The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- Galaxy Guide 3: The Empire Strikes Back
- Star Wars Gamemaster Handbook, Second Edition
- The New Essential Guide to Weapons and Technology
- Death Star Designer
- Star Wars: The Action Figure Archive
- Star Wars: The Official Figurine Collection 53 (High-Speed Travel: Hyperspace Routes)
- Castaways of Endor
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game: Champions of the Force
- Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Praji
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- Michael Wong's analysis of Death Star firepower
- Technical commentaries on the Death Stars
- How the Death Star Works - Article at Howstuffworks.com
- The Fanatical Guide to Death Stars
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections
- ↑ Death Star (novel)
- ↑ Star Wars: Complete Locations
- ↑ Death Star Designer
- ↑ Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 X-wing Rogue Squadron: The Phantom Affair
- ↑ Death Star (novel)
- ↑ Star Wars: Battlefront II
- ↑ Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
- ↑ Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
- ↑ G. E. Hunt, "`Voyager' to Jupiter and Saturn: The Journey of a Lifetime - II.", Journal of the British Astronomical Association, vol.93, no.3., page 107. (full text)
- ↑ Phil Plait, Bad Astronomy: Saturn's Moon Mimas and the Death Star March 17, 1997
- ↑ Cassini Flies by Saturn's Tortured Moon Mimas, NASA-JPL press release, August 5, 2005
- ↑ Kelly Young, Saturn's Moon is Death Star Twin, New Scientist, 11 February 2005
- ↑ See, for example, this image.