|First appearance||Star Wars: From the Adventures of Luke Skywalker (novel, 1976)|
The Death Star refers to any of several fictional mobile space stations and galactic superweapons appearing in the Star Wars science-fiction franchise created by George Lucas. The First Death Star was stated to be 87 mi (140 km) in diameter with a volume of 220,781 cubic miles; or (to give perspective) aprox. 1/25 the size of our Moon,. It was crewed by an estimated 1.7 million military personnel and 400,000 droids. The Second Death Star was significantly larger-- 99 mi (160 km) in diameter—and more advanced than its predecessor. Both versions of these dwarf planet-sized fortresses were designed for massive power projection capabilities, capable of destroying an entire planet with one blast from their superlasers.
Origin and design
Although details, such as the superlaser's location, shifted between different concept models during production of Star Wars, the notion of the Death Star being a large, spherical space station over 1000 kilometers in diameter was consistent in all of them. The Death Star model was created by John Stears. The buzzing sound counting down to the Death Star firing its superlaser comes from the Flash Gordon serials. Portraying an incomplete yet powerful space station posed a problem for Industrial Light & Magic's modelmakers for Return of the Jedi. Only the front side of the 137-centimeter model was completed, and the image was flipped horizontally for the final film. Both Death Stars were depicted by a combination of complete and sectional models and matte paintings.
The Death Star explosions featured in the special edition of A New Hope and in Return of the Jedi are rendered with a Praxis effect, wherein a flat ring of matter erupts from the explosion.
The grid plan animations shown during the Rebel briefing for the attack on the Death Star late in A New Hope were an actual computer graphics simulation from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory made by Larry Cuba and Gary Imhoff as part of a CalArts project, and had been included during filming.
Prototype Death Star
The experimental Death Star prototype was simply a durasteel frame with a reactor core, superlaser, engines, and a control room: a test bed for the first Death Star. First conceived by Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, it was constructed by Bevel Lemelisk and his engineers at the Empire's secret Maw Installation. The prototype measured 120 kilometers in diameter. Its superlaser was only powerful enough to destroy a planet's core, rendering it uninhabitable "dead planet". The targeting system on the prototype was never calibrated and the superlaser were inefficient so as to drained the vehicle's batteries. The prototype had no interior except a slave linked control room, hyperdrive engines and other components; station operated with skeleton-crew of 75 personnel.
Originally, the Death Star prototype was considered to be just that—a project begun prior to work beginning on the Death Star I. However, following the appearance of Death Star plans in Attack of the Clones and the first Death Star in Revenge of the Sith (confirmed by George Lucas himself), Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology retconned the prototype into being built alongside the main Death Star because concerns were raised.
First Death Star
The original Death Star's completed form appears in Star Wars. Commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin, it is the Galactic Empire's "ultimate weapon", a huge spherical space station over 100 kilometers in diameter capable of destroying a planet with one shot of its superlaser. The film opens with Princess Leia transporting the station's schematics to the Rebel Alliance to aid them in destroying the Death Star. Tarkin orders the Death Star to destroy Leia's home world of Alderaan in an attempt to press her into giving him the location of the secret Rebel base; she gives them the false location of Dantooine, but Tarkin has Alderaan destroyed anyway, as a demonstration of the Death Star's firepower and the Empire's resolve. Later, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Obi-Wan Kenobi, C-3PO, and R2-D2 are pulled aboard the station by a tractor beam but they discover and manage to rescue Princess Leia and flee the station. Later, Luke returns as part of a fighter force to attack its weak point, a ray-shielded particle exhaust vent leading straight from the surface directly into its reactor core. The station was destroyed by Luke Skywalker when he shot torpedoes into the exhaust vent it before it annihilated the rebel base on Yavin IV, its intended target.
The first Death Star's schematics are visible in the scenes on Geonosis in Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones, and is shown early in construction at the end of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith.
A hologram from the original Death Star is briefly visible in a scene at the Resistance base in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and used as a mean of comparison with one from the First Order's own superweapon, the Starkiller base.
The upcoming anthology film Rogue One, set to be released in December 2016, will focus on a band of Rebels stealing the plans for the first Death Star prior to the events of A New Hope. Already the trailers for the movie showcase the Death Star prominently, showing the moment the giant disk is being fitted as well as the completed battle station in orbit around a planet, at one point eclipsing its sun.
Second Death Star
Return of the Jedi features a second Death Star still under construction at the orbit of the second moon of Endor. Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader send the Rebels false information that the station's weapons systems are not operational in order to lure them into a trap. The station's main weapon was a dramatic improvement over its predecessor: while the First Death Star fired only once every 24 hours, the Second fired once every 3-minutes, and was capable of destroying at least two capital ships per shot. When the station's protective shield is disabled by a ground assault team on Endor, rebel fighters fly into the unfinished station to its reactor core chamber and damage the reactor core which eventually explodes and destroys the station.
The 2014 book Star Wars: Tarkin detailed the life of Grand Moff Tarkin, and prominently featured the first Death Star.
The 2015 book Star Wars: Aftermath took place during the aftermath of the second Death Star's destruction, and had many flashbacks to this event. One of the main characters in the story personally escaped the explosion of the Death Star. The destruction of the second Death Star was also shown in holograms in the book. The Death Star is also on the book's cover.
The 2015 video game Star Wars: Uprising takes place during the aftermath of the second Death Star's destruction, and features a hologram of its description on multiple occasions in and out of cutscenes.
The canonical population of the first Death Star was 1.7 million people and 400,000 droids.
Death Star plans
The Death Star plans are a central plot-point in Rogue One and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The plans were also seen in the prequel film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, showcasing the early development of the Death Star prototype. In the film, the Death Star plans were designed by Geonosians led by Archduke Poggle the Lesser, a member of the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
Both Death Stars appear throughout the Star Wars Legends (formerly known as the Expanded Universe). The first Death Star's construction is the subject of Michael Reaves and Steve Perry's novel Death Star. In LucasArts' Star Wars: Battlefront II, the player participates in a mission to secure crystals used in the Death Star's superlaser. The first Death Star under construction acts as the final stage in the video game, The Force Unleashed. Kevin J. Anderson's Jedi Academy trilogy introduces the Maw Cluster of black holes that protect a laboratory where the Death Star prototype was built (consisting of the super structure, power core, and Super Laser). The theme of the construction of the Death Star is continued in the 2016 novelization, Catalyst: A Rogue One Story which tells the story of the development of the Death Star's superweapon by the scientist Galen Erso.
National Public Radio's A New Hope adaptation portrays Leia (Ann Sachs) and Bail Organa's (Stephen Elliott) discovery of the Death Star's existence and Leia's mission to steal the space station's schematics. The first level of LucasArts' Dark Forces gives the player a supporting role in Leia's mission, while a mission in Battlefront II tasks the player with acting as a stormtrooper or Darth Vader in an attempt to recover the plans and capture Leia. Steve Perry's novel Shadows of the Empire describes a mission that leads to the Rebels learning of the second Death Star's existence, and that mission is playable in LucasArts' X-Wing Alliance combat flight simulator. Numerous LucasArts titles recreate the movies' attacks on the Death Stars, and the Death Star itself is a controllable weapon in the Rebellion and Empire at War strategy game. A Death Star variation appears in Kevin J. Anderson's novel Darksaber (1995), and a prototype version of the Death Star can be found in his novel Jedi Search (1994).
The first Death Star is depicted in various sources of having a crew of 265,675, as well as 52,276 gunners, 607,360 troops, 30,984 stormtroopers, 42,782 ship support staff, and 180,216 pilots and support crew. Its hangars contain assault shuttles, blastboats, Strike cruisers, land vehicles, support ships, and 7,293 TIE fighters. It is also protected by 10,000 turbolaser batteries, 2,600 ion cannons, and at least 768 tractor beam projectors. Various sources state the first Death Star has a diameter of between 140 and 160 kilometers. There is a broader range of figures for the second Death Star's diameter, ranging from 160 to 900 kilometers.
In the Disney attraction, Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, guests can travel inside an incomplete Death Star during one of the randomized ride sequences. In the original Star Tours, a Death Star III is seen and destroyed during the ride sequence by the New Republic.
KTCK (SportsRadio 1310 The Ticket) in Dallas were the first to use the term "Death Star" to describe the new mammoth Cowboys Stadium, now AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas. The term has since spread to local media and is generally accepted as a proper nickname for the stadium.
AT&T Corporation's logo introduced in 1982 is informally referred to as the "Death Star". Ars Technica referred to "the AT&T Death Star" in an article criticizing a company data policy. Competitor T-Mobile mocked AT&T's "Death Star" logo and "Empire-like reputation" in a press release.
Additionally, a few astronomers[who?] sometimes use the term "Death Star" to describe Nemesis, a hypothetical star postulated in 1984 to be responsible for gravitationally forcing comets and asteroids from the Oort cloud toward Earth.
Kenner and AMT created a playset and a model, respectively, of the first Death Star. In 2005 and 2008, Lego released models of Death Star II and Death Star I, respectively. In 1979, Palitoy created a heavy card version of the Death Star as a playset for the vintage range of action figures in the UK, Australia and Canada. Both Death Stars are part of different Micro Machines three-packs. The Death Stars and locations in them are cards in Decipher, Inc.'s and Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Customizable Card Game and Star Wars Trading Card Game, respectively. Hasbro released a Death Star model that transforms into a Darth Vader mech. Estes Industries released a flying model rocket version.
White House petition
In 2012–13, a proposal on the White House's website urging the United States government to build a real Death Star as an economic stimulus and job creation measure gained more than 30,000 signatures, enough to qualify for an official response. The official (tongue-in-cheek) response was released in January 2013 and noted that the cost of building a real Death Star has been estimated at $850 quadrillion, while the International Business Times cited a Centives economics blog calculation that, at current rates of steel production, the Death Star would not be ready for more than 833,000 years. The White House response also stated "the Administration does not support blowing up planets," and questioned funding a weapon "with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship" as reasons for denying the petition.
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