- "Both as impregnable fortress and as symbol of the Emperor's inviolable rule, the deep-space mobile battle station was an achievement on the order of any fashioned by the ancestral species that had unlocked the secret of hyperspace and opened the galaxy to exploration."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin, in his posthumously-published memoir
The Death Star, also known as the Death Star I, First Death Star, DS-1 platform and previously known as the Ultimate Weapon and Sentinel Base, was a moon-sized deep space mobile battle station constructed by the Galactic Empire after the defeat of the Separatists in the Clone Wars. It boasted a primary weapon with sufficient firepower to destroy an entire planet with a single shot.
Touted by its command staff as "the ultimate power in the universe," the Death Star was destroyed by Rebel pilot Luke Skywalker in a single T-65B X-wing starfighter. As a result, the Empire began construction on the more powerful Death Star II.
- "That's no moon. It's a space station."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, upon seeing the Death Star for the first time.
The design of the station was spheroid, with a large concave dish in the northern hemisphere making up the superlaser emitter. The Death Star was so large in diameter that it was sometimes mistaken for a small moon at first glance. The station's equator was comprised of numerous docking ports of various sizes, all supported by extraordinarily powerful tractor beam emitters, and guarded by turbolaser emplacements. It was over 120 km (74.5645 miles) in diameter and had 357 internal levels. Due to its enormous size, it had a heavy gravitational pull which forced TIE fighter pilots to adjust their ships' thrusters for the kind of takeoff more common within a planetary atmosphere than on a space station. Capital ships such as Imperial-class Star Destroyers could also dock at the station, while force fields kept the station's internal atmosphere in and the vacuum of space out if docking bay doors were opened. The station's hull was made of Quadanium plates.
Meant to function as a world of its own, the Death Star had creature comforts most other Imperial military postings did not: decent food, recreation areas, cantinas with latest-model bartender droids, and commissaries with selections of expensive treats and luxuries, such as the Death Star Commissary. Furthermore, although there were communal barracks, there also were enough private bunks that most people could expect to receive one within three to six months after arrival.
The most prominent weapon emplacement on the Death Star was its superlaser—a weapon powered by a hypermatter reactor and focused through giant kyber crystals with sufficient firepower to destroy an entire planet. Though impressive in both size and destructive power, the superlaser was only fired once, and only on a fixed target after which a 24 hour recharge time was required in order to fire it again. It is unknown if its targeting capabilities were more dynamic than that.
In addition to its superlaser, the surface of the Death Star was also peppered with 15,000 turbolaser batteries along with 768 tractor beam emplacements. As the station's defenses, these were installed in order to repel a large-scale fleet attack, rather than fend off individual starfighters which the Empire viewed as no real threat. The battlestation also contained numerous TIE/LN starfighters which frequently patrolled the space surrounding the station.
- "«The Jedi must not find our designs for the Ultimate Weapon. If they find out what we are planning to build, we're doomed.»"
"I will take the designs with me to Coruscant. They will be much safer there…with my Master."
- ―Poggle the Lesser and Count Dooku
Plans for a moon-shaped battle station were first developed by the weaponsmiths of Geonosis for use by two malevolent Sith Lords, Darth Sidious and Darth Tyranus, in the waning decades of the Galactic Republic. Its design, centered around a superlaser array using massive kyber crystals, was inspired by a technology developed by the ancient Sith.
Ten years after the Invasion of Naboo, Tyranus was at the head of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, a secessionist movement on the brink of the war with the Republic. That year, the Republic ended up sending its newly-acquired army of clone troopers to Geonosis, which started the Clone Wars. The conflict had in fact been provoked by Sidious, who secretely manipulated both sides: he himself led the Republic under his public persona of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, while his acolyte Tyranus led the Confederacy as Count Dooku. With the invasion of Geonosis by the clones, Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser turned the designs of their "Ultimate Weapon" over to Dooku for safekeeping, not knowing of the man's alter ego and ties with Sidious.
As the war raged on, the Ultimate Weapon saw construction over Geonosis. By the time the three-year conflict came to an end, workers had partially completed its framework. As the war ended, Darth Sidious got rid of his Confederacy puppets, including his own apprentice, and proclaimed the birth of a new, authoritarian Galactic Empire, anointing himself Emperor. The Ultimate Weapon project was immediately appropriated by the nascent Empire. Access to Geonosis was restricted, and very few members of the Imperial hierarchy were allowed to know about the project. Tiaan Jerjerrod, an architect and starship designer from Tinnel IV, was enlisted to help build the megaweapon. Despite construction moving ahead, not all Imperials believed in the viability of the project, with some voicing protest over what would later become known as 'Tarkin's folly.' General Jylia Shale was one of many that voiced protest against its development, only to result in her input being marginalized over the coming years.
- "The Outer Rim is yours to oversee—and with it, Grand Moff Tarkin, the whole of the mobile battle station project."
"I will not fail you."
"It will be a momentous responsibility. For once the battle station is fully operational, you will wield the ultimate power in the galaxy."
"I don't believe that will ever be the case, my lord."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin, to Emperor Palpatine
The construction of the Death Star continued above Geonosis in utmost secrecy, with the Empire utilizing Wookiee slave laborers and various other species to complete the project. To protect the battle station during the long construction phase, a network of bases was established. Initially, supervision of said bases was entrusted to Vice Admiral Rancit, who oversaw them all from Sentinel Base. However, Rancit was replaced by Wilhuff Tarkin at some point after the Antar Atrocity. During his tenure as supervisor of the Death Star project, Tarkin had to face many difficulties, from supply problems and attempts at sabotage to missed engineering deadlines. However, Tarkin proved that the Emperor had been right to assign him to that project. As a reward for his efficiency, Tarkin was made the first Grand Moff of the Empire, and given greater control over the project. Kyber crystals were also scoured from across the galaxy in order to construct the station, with the Separatist Alliance doing so near the end of the Clone Wars only to have the attempt be sabotaged on the Outer Rim world of Utapau by Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, while a band of Lothal rebels managed to attack an Imperial supply convoy carrying the crystals five years before the Battle of Yavin, destroying them in the process.
Completion and demonstrationEdit
The massive construction project was completed nearly twenty years after its conception during the Clone Wars, and at some point was rechristened as the Death Star. Imperial Navy pilots and military personnel were eventually assigned to the station shortly before it was revealed to the public, being new enough to still be labeled as classified. Three weeks later, Imperial forces commanded by Darth Vader captured Imperial Senator and rebel sympathizer Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan who had received the technical readouts for the Death Star from Rebel agents after a major battle, and intended to pass them along to her allies.
As a high-value prisoner, Organa was moved to a detention block aboard the Death Star, where she was interrogated in order to learn the location of the Rebellion's secret base. Faced with her considerable resistance to Imperial interrogation techniques, Tarkin opted to try a different approach: intimidation. In a move calculated to force Organa to reveal the Rebel base, Tarkin threatened to use the station's primary weapon to destroy her homeworld. Though she ostensibly relented and supplied the rebel base's location as being on Dantooine, Tarkin ordered the attack to move forward in order to demonstrate the military power that the Empire now held. In a matter of moments, the Death Star destroyed the planet Alderaan, leaving no survivors.
Immediately after the planet's destruction, the Star Detroyer Devastator left the station and a small Imperial force was sent to investigate Leia's claim under the command of General Cassio Tagge. Upon arrival in the system however, it was discovered that the base was abandoned. Angered by Leia's lie, Vader and Tarkin conspired to allow Organa to be rescued by a group of outlaws, in order to follow them back to the Rebel base themselves.
- "Great shot, kid! That was one in a million!"
- ―Han Solo to Luke Skywalker
The Death Star pursued Organa and her allies to the Yavin system, where the Rebel base was located on Yavin 4. Having identified a weakness in the station's design, the Rebels scrambled their starfighters in a desperate attempt to destroy the station before it could bring its weapon to bear on Yavin 4.The station's defenses, including turbolaser emplacements and numerous TIE/LN starfighters destroyed the majority of the Rebel fighters, but ultimately one proved successful. Piloted by Tatooine native Luke Skywalker, a single T-65B X-wing starfighter was able to fire a pair of proton torpedoes down a small thermal exhaust shaft. The torpedoes destroyed the Death Star's main reactor by causing a chain reaction, resulting in the entire station's destruction.
In the chaotic hours that followed the station's destruction, multiple rumors of the station's defeat circulated across the galaxy, while a Gozanti-class cruiser was sent to the Yavin system to pick up Lord Vader, who was trapped inside of his TIE Advanced x1.
With the loss of Grand Moff Tarkin and numerous members of the Joint Chiefs and Imperial military manpower, the Empire began to mobilize for a full-scale galactic war, while it also forged ahead and began construction on the Death Star II. A second, more powerful battle station designed by the same engineer who was killed by Darth Sidious for the first station's weak spot, and then cloned to make the second station better and without the fatal flaw of the first. The Imperial HoloNet subsequently downplayed the destruction of the Empire's ultimate weapon, referring to it only as an 'unprecedented attack by the Rebel Alliance' while bringing attention to the fact that the Empire had the means to destroy an entire planet in order to strike fear into those who might question the Emperor's rule. Needing to punish those responsible for the station's destruction, the Emperor began a culling at the highest ranks of the Empire, executing officials such as Moff Coovern and Minister Khemt, believing that their incompetence was partly to blame for the station's annihilation. As a result, General Cassio Tagge was appointed to the newly created rank of Grand General owing his ability to question the invulnerability of the battle station.
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ultimate Star Wars
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 "Last Call at the Zero Angle"—Star Wars Insider 156
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Lost Stars
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Aftermath
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Tarkin
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
- ↑ Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "A Death on Utapau"
- ↑ Star Wars Rebels – "Breaking Ranks"
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Battlefront: Twilight Company
- ↑ Star Wars: Darth Vader 1: Vader
- Death Star on Wikipedia