Death Star

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This article describes the fictional spacecraft. For the star hypothesized as causing periodic extinctions on Earth, see Nemesis (star).
There is also a NOVA program called Death Star that discusses gamma ray bursts.
File:Death Star.jpg
The first Death Star
The second Death Star

The Death Star is a giant military space station in the fictional Star Wars universe.


Template:Spoiler The Galactic Empire's ultimate terror weapon, the Death Stars were battle stations (the original being 120 kilometers in diameter, Death Star II 160 kilometers) and mounting a directed superlaser weapon capable of completely destroying an Earth-sized planet with a single shot. Planetary shields that could have held off entire Imperial fleets were ineffective against such a weapon. The first Death Star held 27,048 officers, 774,576 crew including troopers, pilots and crewers, 400,000 support workers and over 25,000 stormtroopers. It also carried assault shuttles, Skipray Blastboats, strike cruisers, drop ships, land vehicles, and support ships as well as 7,200 TIE fighters. For surface protection it sported 200 Turbolaser batteries, 2,500 ion cannons and at least 700 tractor beam projectors, plus, of course, the superlaser. Even without the primary weapon, the Death Star carried enough troops and ships to occupy an entire star system by force.

Two such Death Stars (I and II) were featured in the original movie trilogy, the first in A New Hope, and the second in Return of the Jedi. The designs for the Death Star are visible in Attack of the Clones; early construction of the Death Star I is seen in Revenge of the Sith.

There is some disagreement about the size of both Death Stars. According to some Expanded Universe sources and, the first Death Star was 120 kilometers in diameter. This however, conflicts with the Star Wars Incredible Cross Sections fact book, which states that the first Death Star was 160 kilometers in diameter. There is a similar controversy regarding the size of the second Death Star seen in Return of the Jedi as result of various contradictions. Both and the majority of Expanded Universe material concurs with the Death Star II being 160 kilometers in diameter. This is in contrast to the 900 km diameter figure stated in the Inside the Worlds of the Original Trilogy fact book. Some claim that the scaling with other ships in the movie also shows that the second Death Star was 900 kilometers in diameter, though there are critics who have made their own scaling calculations and come up with a figure closer to 160 kilometers. According to Star Wars Insider #68, page 23, DK nonfiction (which includes the book claiming the 900 kilometer length) is considered canon by Lucasfilm Limited. Unfortunately, the level of canon (there are various levels of Star Wars canon, and the Expanded Universe also has a level of canon status) was not revealed, and so the controversy continues.

The initial design of the first Death Star was done by the Geonosians under Poggle the Lesser. At the start of the Clone Wars, they gave the designs of their "Great Weapon" to Count Dooku to prevent the designs from falling into Jedi hands. Dooku took the designs back to Coruscant and gave them to his master, Palpatine. Once the war was well underway, the Separatist leaders began to finance and build the weapon, using mostly Geonosians as their laborers. Due to the changing political climate, the Separatist leaders were all murdered, the Separatist movement was ended and the weapon fell directly into the hands of the newly-formed Empire. Raith Sienar also had plans for a Death Star-like battle station. However, he later let Grand Moff Tarkin take credit for the design, since he no longer had interest in the project. It is believed that enslaved Geonosians continued to work on the Death Star well into its construction.

In A New Hope, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker mistake the station for a small moon while following a lone TIE fighter. After escaping from the Death Star, the plans to the station, stolen by Rebel spies (according to the LucasArts video games, a secret signal interceptions asteroid, as well as Kyle Katarn), are transported by Princess Leia (with help from Han Solo, Luke Skywalker and the droids R2-D2 and C-3PO) to Rebel leaders. Luke Skywalker pilots an X-wing starfighter through a trench-like indentation on the surface of the Death Star, evading a pursuing Darth Vader long enough to launch a pair of proton torpedoes down a thermal exhaust port that reaches right down into the reactor core, causing a chain reaction to destroy the battle station.

As mentioned in Return of the Jedi, Bothan spies steal the plans to the second Death Star, (this information is also found in the book Shadows of the Empire) unaware that their theft was orchestrated by Palpatine. General Crix Madine and Admiral Ackbar devise a plan for its destruction. Han leads a team to the forest moon of Endor to destroy its shield generator, while group of fighters and the Millennium Falcon piloted by Lando Calrissian fly into the centre of the ship through a narrow maze of pipes and destroy the reactor directly, rushing out in just enough time to escape the ensuing explosion.

One drawback of the original design was the power systems. The first Death Star's reactor required one full day to generate enough energy for a full power shot. 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 once every few minutes. It also had improved targeting computers, allowing it to fire the weapon at capital ships.

The second Death Star corrected several flaws of 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.

Expanded Universe

In the early production of the original movie, the hollow dish was designed to be on the equator, but then it was decided to be on the "northern" hemisphere. This old design can still be seen in the grid plan animations seen in the movie, as the animation was created before the designer decided to change it. This is a blooper, since the original plan in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones shows the "later" form.

The Death Star's superlaser originated on Mygeeto. The 501st Legion of Clone troopers secretly helped Palpatine retrieve energy crystals from an energy tower. The crystals are the powersource of the laser.

At the same time of the first Death Star's construction, Sienar was designing a battlestation (without a superlaser) of similar size and prestige as the Geonosian/Imperial superweapon. The best elements of both were apparently merged together with final detail work taking place in the secret Maw Cluster on Kessel. This laboratory completed a scaled-down prototype that was later destroyed by the New Republic.

One of the primary designers of the Death Star was an engineer named Bevel Lemelisk. Lemelisk worked with the Geonosians to convert Sienar's Expeditionary Battle Planetoid into a superlaser-armed battlestation, and later designed more Imperial superweapons in the Maw Installation before overseeing the Death Star's construction at the planet Despayre.

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 meant that this attempt was an abject failure even before its destruction.

Many of the Star Wars games are concerned with the Death Star's destruction, or the theft, protection, and transmission of its plans by the Rebel Alliance, prior to the Battle of Yavin.


It has been calculated that blowing up an Earth-sized planet takes on the order of Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "":): {\displaystyle 10^{32}} joules of energy; this is roughly the total output of the sun in a week. More detailed estimates place the violent destruction of Alderaan as requiring Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "":): {\displaystyle 10^{38}} joules of energy, or roughly one million times than necessary to permanently break apart the planet. This represents Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "":): {\displaystyle 10^{12} - 10^{18}} tonnes of matter energy equivalence (not to be confused with energy-TNT equivalence) which leads to obvious problems if storage is considered. If the energy is produced by matter-antimatter annihilation with the reagents being stored in a sphere with density Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "":): {\displaystyle 1 tonne/m^3} , this would give a ball of matter and antimatter fuel between 12 and 1200 km in diameter. Conservation of momentum also causes interesting problems for this weapon system. [1], [2]

The prototype Death Star destroyed the moon of the planet Kessel. While there was little detailed information about this event, it would have required around Failed to parse (MathML with SVG or PNG fallback (recommended for modern browsers and accessibility tools): Invalid response ("Math extension cannot connect to Restbase.") from server "":): {\displaystyle 10^{29}} joules, assuming similar size and composition to Earth's moon. [3]

In terms of carrying out the mission of destroying a planet, a far more efficient system than a megastructure battle station, is to simply place a low acceleration thruster on an asteroid directed at the target. A rock of any significant size hitting an inhabited planet at relativistic speeds will at best burn away the biosphere, and probably shatter the mantle just as dramatically as the Death Star's superlaser.

Cultural impact

File:Mimas deathstar.jpg
The Death Star bears a striking but coincidental resemblance to Mimas, a moon of Saturn

When the Saturnian moon Mimas was photographed in 1980, it was discovered that it had a giant crater which made the moon coincidentally have a strong resemblence to the Death Star, which was quickly noted in popular culture.

Astronomers used the phrase "Death Star" to describe Nemesis, a hypothetical star body first postulated in 1984 that was supposedly responsible for gravitationally forcing comets and asteroids from the Oort cloud towards Earth.

Internally, the logo of AT&T, due to its visual similarity, is known as the Death Star. When political cartoon and comic strip creators learned of this, many references to AT&T used the Death Star analogy. It was widely seen in Doonesbury and Bloom County comic strips. This name was also given to the titanic former Bell Labs facility in Holmdel, New Jersey, now owned by Lucent.

In the novel Virtual Light by William Gibson, the Los Angeles Police Department uses an orbital satellite for surveillance and communication; the police nickname it the Death Star.

The Death Star has been parodied in such shows as Futurama, which features the "Near-Death Star", an installation in which all U.S.E. (United States of Earth) citizens older than 160 years of age are kept in coffin-like containers plugged into a computer simulation of a nursing home in Florida (in the manner of The Matrix and similar films); also the Brainspawn's InfoSphere(a gigantic memory bank twice the size of three ordinary memory banks), used in a hellish plot to understand and destroy the universe.

In the Oedekerk Entertainment film Thumb Wars: the Phantom Cuticle, the Death Star equivalent is called the Thumb Star or the Death Thumb and looks rather a lot like a thumb. In the true Evil style of Black Helmet Man, it carries weapons capable of destroying a planet (efficiently labeled the "One Huge Weapon Thing"), or spinning it fast to make the inhabitants nauseous, as well as several thousand Smaller Ineffectual Weapon Things, ten thousand Thumbtroopers, five thousand Thumbperial Battle Technicians, two thousand Fist-Fighter Pilots, and three bathrooms.

The Sonic the Hedgehog villain Dr. Robotnik built the "Death Egg"; Sonic 2 was intended, in part, to pay homage to Star Wars. The Death Egg appeared again in Sonic Battle, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and in the arcade fighting game Sonic the Fighters. Also featured in the Sonic series was the Space Colony Ark, a spherical space station which included the Eclipse Cannon, a weapon that destroyed half of the moon while it was not in full power.

In Kevin Smith's 1994 movie Clerks, Randal Graves tells Dante Hicks that he didn't like Return of the Jedi because he felt innocent independent civilian contractors were killed when the Rebel Alliance destroyed the second Death Star while it was still under construction. A real roofing contractor overheard and told Dante and Randal that contractors should know what they're getting into, and it was their own fault for working on the Death Star. George Lucas commented on this in the Attack of the Clones audio commentary, by saying that the termite-like Geonosians would have been hired by the Empire, so there was no problem in killing them.

Comedian Eddie Izzard has often performed a popular routine in his stand up act in which Darth Vader visits the cantina on the Death Star. Izzard points out that a space station of that size must have had a cantina or a similar place to obtain food.

A reference to the Death Star was also mentioned in the box-office comedy hit Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999). In the movie, the villain, Dr. Evil, is just revived from his cryogenically frozen state after several decades, and contemplates several potential evil schemes to achieve his objective of world domination. One suggestion Dr. Evil makes is that he will create a new superweapon by putting a gigantic "laser" on the moon to destroy Washington D.C.. (Since he was frozen when the Star Wars movies came out, Dr. Evil is not aware of the Death Star.) He amusingly dubs his newly formulated device "the Death Star," thinking he was the first person to ever conceive of such an ingeniously sophisticated weapon. When Scott hears the name, he mocks his father by calling him "Darth." Furthermore, he dubs his plan "The Alan Parsons Project".

The satirical newspaper The Onion ran an article entitled "Death Star to Open Day Care Center" in 1996:

"After months of speculation, it was confirmed yesterday that the Death Star, the Empire's vaunted, planet-destroying space station, has added a new, state-of-the-art day care center to its already vast array of capabilities. The massive four-room day care center, which, according to Grand Moff Tarkin, will "provide a safe and fun learning environment for tots between the ages of one and four," has already begun spring enrollment and is expected to be fully operational by June 1."

The article concluded with quotes regarding the Day Care Center's safety:

"There is an opening in the Death Star's main shaft that leads to the core," parent and dissenting voice Annette Voss said. 'If a small rebel ship were to somehow break through the deflector shield and enter the shaft, it's possible it could hit the reactor core with a single, well-placed proton torpedo shot and destroy the entire space station.' Experts, however, scoff at Voss's theory, dismissing such a shot as "a million to one."

This could possibly be seen as a black humored reference to 1995's Oklahoma City bombing, in which Timothy McVeigh aimed to kill government employees in the building but inadvertently parked his car bomb next to the building's day care center, killing 19 children.

See also

External links

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