Star Wars Lore - The Death Star
Also known as the Death Star I, the First Death Star and the Ultimate Weapon, the Death Star was a moon-sized deep space mobile battlestation constructed by the galactic Empire. Designed from technology dating back to the ancient Sith, and using kyber crystals to power a planet-destroying superlaser, the Death Star commanded fear from the galaxy. However, the Rebel Alliance stood up to Emperor Palpatine and his iron fist, having Luke Skywalker destroy the over one trillion galactic credits battlestation…
Welcome to TheCancrizans’ Star Wars Lore Episode 121, the Death Star.
Though plans for a mobile, planet destroying superweapon dated back millennia, it wasn’t until just before the outbreak of the Clone Wars that the “Ultimate Weapon” was developed by weaponsmiths of Geonosis. For use by Darth Sidious and his apprentice, Tyranus, its design centred around a superlaser array using massive kyber crystals, which was inspired by a technology developed by the ancient Sith. As the Clone Wars raged on - a conflict constructed by both Sidious and Tyranus, using their alter personas of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Count Dooku - the Ultimate Weapon plans came under threat when the Grand Army of the Republic attacked Geonosis. However, Dooku managed to escape the planet, and so continued the project. The Ultimate Weapon was constructed over Geonosis, using kyber crystals sourced from across the galaxy. By the time the Clone Wars concluded, workers had partially completed its framework. However, Sidious cut ties with his Confederacy puppets, had Tyranus killed, and proclaimed the birth of the Galactic Empire.
As Sidious began his rule over the galaxy, he appointed Admiral Wilhuff Tarkin to oversee the Ultimate Weapon’s construction. Not only was Geonosis restricted to an inner circle of Imperial scientists and engineers, but some of the Imperial hierarchy never even knew about the project. After architect and starship designer Tiaan Jerjerrod was enlisted to help build the megaweapon, and despite the fact construction was moving along at a steady pace, not all Imperials believed in the viability of the project. General Jylia Shale was one of many that voiced protest against its development, resulting in her input being marginalised over the following years. The Ultimate Weapon’s construction continued for several years in the utmost secrecy above Geonosis. The Empire utilised construction modules operated by Wookiee slave labourers and various other species to complete the project. Most of the work was carried out in micro-g, but omni-directional boosters supplied standard gravity to a large area near the surface of the station, which eventually became the overbridge. Fixed in orbit nearby, the Ultimate Weapon was guarded by four Star Destroyers and around eight frigates. In a further attempt for protection and secrecy, outposts such as Desolation Station (Legends) and Rampart Station were constructed, with the latter acting as a marshalling depot for supplies to Geonosis. Such drop-off points were overseen by Sentinel Base.
Fun Fact: Following a sophisticated attack against Sentinel Base by an organised cell led by Berch Teller, Tarkin and Sidious’ apprentice, Darth Vader, were intrusted with the subsequent manhunt for those involved. As a result of Tarkin’s effort in particular, the Emperor promoted him to the newly created title of Grand Moff.
Though attacks against the Ultimate Weapon’s construction ultimately failed, a number of smaller skirmishes with Imperial shipping managed to delay the project. Such a case occurred in 5 BBY, when a band of Lothal Rebels attacked and destroyed an Imperial supply convoy carrying kyber crystals. Following the attacks, the station was moved from Geonosis to another base. And for secrecy reasons, the entire Geonosian species was destroyed. 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. Though many starship designers and engineers attempted to claim credit for the battlestation, only Emperor Palpatine knew the full history of the project. Rumours within Imperial ranks speculated that it was a Confederate weapon engineered by Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser’s hive colony for Count Dooku. However, none could prove the claims. Shortly before the Death Star was revealed to the public, Imperial Navy pilots and military personnel were eventually assigned to it.
Three weeks later, Imperial forces commanded by Darth Vader captured Imperial Senator and rebel sympathiser Princess Leia Organa, after she received technical readouts for the Death Star from Rebel agents. As a high-value prisoner, Organa was moved to a detention block aboard the Death Star, where she was interrogated. When the Empire failed to learn the location of the Rebellion’s secret base, Tarkin opted to try a different approach; intimidation. He threatened to destroy her homeworld if she did not comply. Organa reluctantly cooperated, revealing Dantooine was where the Rebels were. However, Tarkin decided to display the full power of the battlestation anyway. Within only a matter of seconds from powering up the superlaser, Alderaan was completely obliterated, leaving no survivors. The Death Star, without question, lived up to its name. Immediately afterwards, the Star Destroyer Devastator and a small Imperial force were dispatched to Dantooine to investigate Leia’s claim. However, the base they discovered was abandoned. Although they were angered by the lie, Vader and Tarkin conspired to allows Organa’s rescue by a group of outlaws, only to have her lead them to the Rebel base.
The Death Star tracked Organa and her allies to the Yavin system, discovering that the Rebel base was located on Yavin 4. Knowing that the battlestation was planning on destroying the entire planet, the Rebels quickly devised a plan to exploit a weakness in the structure. Their scrambled Starfighters met resistance from the Death Star’s defences, which included turbolaser emplacements and a vast amount of TIE/LN starfighters. Although most of the Rebel fighters were destroyed, one managed to survive the “trench run”. Piloted by Luke Skywalker, a single T-65B X-wing starfighter successfully fired a pair of proton torpedoes into a small thermal exhaust port. The torpedoes caused a chain reaction that destroyed the Death Star’s main reactor, leading to the entire station’s destruction. Mirroring Alderaan; in only a matter of seconds the once vibrant powerhouse was no more. In the chaotic hours that followed its destruction, many rumours of the Death Star’s defeat circulated across the galaxy. A Gozanti-class cruiser, piloted by Ciena Ree and Berisse Sai, was dispatched to the Yavin system to both confirm the Empire’s greatest fears and pick up Lord Vader, who was trapped inside his TIE Advanced x1 following the space battle.
The destruction not only wiped out a large chunk of the Imperial’s resources and manpower, as Grand Moff Tarkin perished as a result also. But the Empire reacted accordingly, gearing for a full-scale galactic war as they began construction on the Death Star II, which would be far larger and even more powerful. It was designed to not have the same fatal flaw as the first by the clone of the same engineer, who Sidious initially killed for his “oversight”. In the meantime, the Imperial HoloNet downplayed the destruction of the Empire’s ultimate weapon, referring to it as only an ‘unprecedented attack by the Rebel Alliance’. People and Planet’s began to question the Empire’s rule as a result, but Vader was all too willing to show them pieces of Alderaan in return. The Imperials later began punishing those responsible for the station’s destruction, with Emperor Palpatine doing some of the work himself, believing those like Moff Coovern and Minister Khemt’s incompetence led to the disaster. As a result, needing more “yes men” filling vacant positions, General Cassio Tagge was appointed to the newly created rank of Grand General. The Galactic Empire was ultimately destroyed alongside the second Death Star. However, around thirty years later, the Empire’s successor state, the First Order, constructed a similar weapon of planetary destruction, going by the name Starkiller Base…
If you want to learn more about the Death Star’s design, size, armaments and power, then click the link on-screen or the one in the description. Now it’s time for this week’s question: do you think the Death Star was destroyed too easily? Let me know in the comments below.