- "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 (DS-1 platform), also known as the Death Star I, First Death Star, and early in its planning stages as simply the Ultimate Weapon, was a moon-sized deep space mobile battle station constructed by the Galactic Empire. Designed to fire a single planet-destroying superlaser powered by massive kyber crystals, it was the pet project of both the Emperor, Vader, and its eventual commander Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin to expound the military philosophy of the aptly named Tarkin Doctrine.
Some of the earliest plans for a mobile, planet-destroying superweapon dated back millennia to the ancient Sith. Thousands of years later before the outbreak of the Clone Wars, the Geonosians, aligned with Count Dooku and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, designed the Ultimate Weapon in secret. After the fall of the Confederacy, construction of the Death Star was appropriated by the nascent Empire. Built in orbit of Geonosis and supported by a complex logistical network of bases, it was overseen by Vice Admiral Rancit and, eventually, Tarkin himself. The station, which took many years longer to complete than expected, was eventually moved from Geonosis in its final stages of construction.
When the Alliance to Restore the Republic learned of its existence, operatives such as Jyn Erso were sent on a mission to steal the Death Star plans, which the Rebellion against the Empire knew was essential for its survival. These plans were ultimately transmitted to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan aboard the Tantive IV, but not before her subsequent capture and demonstration of the weapons capabilities on her home planet. After a daring rescue, Organa was able to get the plans to the Rebel base on Yavin 4, from which the Alliance launched the Battle of Yavin with a small squadron of starfighters. It managed to destroy the station from a shot fired by Rebel pilot and Jedi Purge survivor Luke Skywalker with the aid of The Force. Consequently, the destruction of the Death Star left the Imperial Military in a weakened state, as Rebel assaults on Imperial installations prompted the necessity for constructing a second Death Star, both as a sign of defiance and technological terror. Despite this, it, like its predecessor, was destroyed with all hands lost. Decades later, the Empire's successor state, the First Order constructed Starkiller Base, a larger planet-destroying superweapon considered to be an evolution of the Death Star project of the Old Empire.
- "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 comprised 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 magnetic seals 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. In its early phases of construction, designers laid out their plans for housing nearly three hundred thousand, although it would later come to house over 300,000 military and two million personnel of varying combat eligibility. 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 overbridge featured designated posts for Tarkin and other officers, a conference room featuring a circular table, a HoloNet booth for communicating with the Emperor and large banks of viewscreens. The station's detention block, while large and formidable, was not intended to hold prisoners for extended periods of time. Instead, it purposed to serve as a means for temporary detention and interrogation, pending transfer to planetary prisons, and execution.
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.
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 secretly 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. Kyber crystals were 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. 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, and its construction begun under Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin's supervision. Access to Geonosis was restricted to an inner circle of Imperial scientists and engineers, and very few members of the Imperial hierarchy even knew 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."
- ―Emperor Palpatine and Wilhuff Tarkin
While many starship designers and engineers attempted to claim credit for the station's construction, none besides the Emperor knew the full history of the moonlet-sized project. While rumors within the Imperial ranks speculated that it was a Confederate weapon engineered by Geonosian Arch-duke Poggle the Lesser's hive colony for Count Dooku, none could prove the stories validity. Some pointed out however, that the plans must have fallen into Republic hands before the Clone Wars ended, owing to the station's shell and laser-focusing dish already in the works upon the wars conclusion. The construction of the Death Star continued for several years above Geonosis in utmost secrecy, with the Empire utilizing construction modules operated by Wookiee slave laborers and various other species to complete the project. Most of the construction work was done in micro-g, while omni-directional boosters supplied standard gravity to a large cabinspace near the surface of the station that would eventually become the overbridge. The epicenter of a throng of construction droids, the station was guarded by four Star Destroyers and twice as many frigates, and hovered in a fixed orbit above the planet. The northern hemisphere focus lens frame for the superlaser was nothing more than a metallic crater five years after the station's appropriation by the Empire, and while some of the hyperdrive components had been installed, the station was far from being jump-ready.
Partly to protect the station, as well as provide several drop-off points to further confuse any attempt to trace the ultimate destination of matériel, outposts such as Desolation Station and Rampart Station were constructed, with Rampart acting as a marshaling depot for supplies heading to Geonosis. Such stations were overseen by Sentinel Base—originally a garrison base deployed from a Victory-class Star Destroyer—Sentinel was no more than a desolate moon in a nameless system of the Outer Rim; prone to a toxic atmosphere and frequent storms of stone and grit. Supervision of this clandestine project was entrusted to Vice Admiral Rancit, however Rancit was replaced by Wilhuff Tarkin at some point following the Antar Atrocity, with Palpatine attempting to shield Tarkin from the political fallout exhumed by the operation. As such, Tarkin's three years commanding Sentinel Base and the hundreds of supply and sentry outposts constructed for the station were mired in bureaucratic inefficiency and complexity.
Shipments from research sites were frequently postponed, asteroid mining above Geonosis proved unfeasible, failed meetings of construction phase deadlines by the engineers and scientists supervising the project fueled frustration, and raids against convoys heading for the station spelled an administrative nightmare. In addition, the Empire's strategy that no base commander—Moff, admiral or general—should have unrestricted access to all information regarding shipments, scheduling, or construction progress, no single person was thus in charge of the project unless one counted the Emperor—whose visits were few and far between. Relying on countless suppliers and tens of millions of beings galaxy-wide, the project's immense size and need for secrecy hampered any real efforts at its completion; with the Imperial Security Bureau and Naval Intelligence Agency continually repressing rumors and quashing information leaks. Furthermore, dissatisfied individuals from the former Republic abandoned the project with such regularity that COMPNOR compiled a most-wanted list of missing scientists and technicians with high-priority security clearances.
Following a sophisticated attack against Sentinel Base by an organized cell of former Republic Intelligence operatives under the command of Berch Teller, Tarkin with the aid of Lord Vader would be entrusted with the subsequent manhunt for those involved in the operation. The following investigation would ultimately involve the highest echelons of Imperial power; who were worried about the attacks proximity to Geonosis, along with the attacker's ability to introduce a false real-time feed into the local HoloNet relay in an attempt to divert Sentinel's defenses to Rampart Station, which was falsely presumed to be under attack by remnant CIS Providence-, Recusant-, and Munificent-class warships. After a meeting in the Imperial Palace with several members of the Joint Chiefs and the Emperor himself, an engagement on Murkhana originally intended to investigate the former Separatist Shadowfeed operation would see Tarkin's personal starship, the Carrion Spike to be hijacked by the dissidents. After an orgy of destruction across several Mid and Outer Rim worlds—which the dissidents transmitted through the local HoloNet before being shut down by the Empire—the conspirators were ultimately stopped after an attempt to destroy a supply shipment heading for the new Death Star project after the ISD Executrix, Compliant and Enforcer arrived on scene. The rebels were subsequently tortured and executed in secret by the ISB, while Vice Admiral Rancit was additionally executed following the discovery of his involvement in the operation, with Rancit hoping to ultimately betray the insurgents above Carida, thus making it appear as if he had stopped their rampage, and thus secure support from the Emperor and receive a possible promotion. The Empire had stopped a potentially disastrous situation from spiraling out of control, making it appear to be an elaborate attempt to draw out and destroy rebel cells. While many in the galaxy knew an Imperial construction project was underway over Geonosis, few knew of what it actually entailed. As a result of Tarkin's efforts, the Emperor decreed his ascension to the newly created title of Grand Moff and greater control over the Outer Systems, along with his oversight of the entirety of the battle station project. Roughly two weeks later, several of the stations sublight engines had been completed, and were tested with Tarkin on board to oversee the operation as the planet surpassed the speed of Geonosis's rotation.
While this attack against the Death Star's construction ultimately failed, a number of smaller skirmishes with Imperial shipping managed to delay the construction of the station. When a band of Lothal rebels managed to attack and destroy an Imperial supply convoy carrying kyber crystals five years before the Battle of Yavin, construction on the station was impeded. At some point after these attacks, the station was moved from Geonosis to another base, and in order to keep the project a secret, the entire Geonosian species was wiped out. Three years before the Battle of Yavin, one of the modules used during construction was used by ISB Agent Kallus to ambush the same group of rebels previously responsible for ambushing the supply convoy of kyber crystals, who this time were on a mission to find out what the Empire was building above the planet. The Empire's attempt to capture the rebels ultimately failed.
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 Destroyer 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 port. The torpedoes destroyed the Death Star's main reactor by causing a chain reaction, resulting in the entire station's destruction.
Where there were once thousands of communications streaming in endless waves from the Death Star, in a mere instant there was none. 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 piloted by Ciena Ree and Berisse Sai was sent to the Yavin system to both confirm the Empire's worst fears and 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. In addition, Lord Vader would send pieces of Alderaan as state gifts to seditious worlds needing to be disciplined. Seeking 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.
Over three decades later, the Empire's successor state, the First Order, would construct a similar weapon of planetary destruction dubbed Starkiller Base, which was considered an improvement on the Empires penultimate Death Star design. Unlike the Death Stars of previous history, this new weapon would be capable of firing its planet-converted battle station's superlaser through sub-hyperspace, destroying targets light-years from its current position.
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 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 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 Tarkin
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Lost Stars
- ↑ 7.0 7.1 Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- ↑ "Last Call at the Zero Angle"—Star Wars Insider 156
- ↑ Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "A Death on Utapau"
- ↑ Return of the Jedi: Beware the Power of the Dark Side!
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 Aftermath
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 Star Wars Rebels – "The Honorable Ones"
- ↑ Star Wars Rebels – "Breaking Ranks"
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Star Wars: Darth Vader Annual 1
- ↑ Battlefront: Twilight Company
- ↑ Star Wars: Darth Vader 1: Vader
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens novelization
- Death Star on Wikipedia