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Star Wars - Death Star explained

The Death Star remains one of the most enduring images across all the Star Wars movies, and we're here to explain the mega-weapon's history.

Star Wars Death Star

What is the Death Star? The Death Star is more than just an iconic image, with the enormous space station integral to the plot of the original trilogy, while also featuring in the prequel and sequel trilogies too.

In the very first Star Wars movie, upon seeing the Death Star, the Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Luke Skywalker and Han Solo “That’s no moon.” It’s a quote that has stayed with audiences for half a century, because it encapsulated the awe – and terror – that the planet-sized space station inspired. The sight of the Death Star, in both its forms, remains one of the most enduring images from the science fiction movie franchise. In fact, it has even seeped through into recent Star Wars series too.

But what’s the Death Star all about, really? Why was it so important, and what do we know about it? Those questions are especially relevant in the aftermath of the finale to the sci-fi series Andor, so let’s join forces with the Galactic Empire and explore the majesty of the Death Star.

Star Wars: Death star explained. Death Star being built in Rogue One

What is the Death Star?

The Death Star was a floating space-station with enormous battle capabilities. It was built at the command of Emperor Palpatine in order to cement his grip on the Galactic Empire and quell the Rebellion.

The reason why the Death Star was mistaken for a moon was because of its enormous size. The Death Star’s size was comparable to a moon or small planet, and it was able to have a capacity of almost a million Imperial workers stationed on it at any given time.

The Death Star was constructed with help from the Geonosians. The Geonisians themselves helped to create the schematics for the Death Star, while other influential designers (such as Galen Erso) also played an important role.

The construction of the Death Star began in the orbit of Geonosis itself, but after some years the construction was moved to Scarif where it was completed. As we see in Andor with the prison on Narkina 5, the Galactic Empire had to use enforced manual labour from across the galaxy to create the parts for the Death Star.

Star Wars death Star explained: Death Star being built in Andor

How powerful was the Death Star?

The Death Star was the single most powerful tool at the disposal of Emperor Palpatine and the Galactic Empire. Using its primary weapon, the superlaser, the Death Star could destroy an entire planet with a single shot. In fact, this weapon was used to destroy the planet Alderaan in a display of immense power.

In addition to that terrifying weapon, the Death Star was also equipped with a powerful tractor beam, as well as surface defences. These defences included an impressive number of surface turrets which were used to shoot down attacking vessels. The Death Star also had squadrons of TIE Fighters which it could deploy to defend it and supplement any attacks.

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The destruction of the Death Star

The destruction of the Death Star was a major target for the Rebellion after it became clear exactly how powerful it was. A detailed and risky plan was established to destroy the Death Star by the Rebellion, which became possible after Galen Erso revealed that the weapon had a fatal weakness that could destroy it.

A special operations team, named Rogue One, led by Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso successfully infiltrated the Imperial base on Scarif and stole the Death Star plans which showed this design flaw. These plans were passed onto the Rebellion, who used them to create an attack plan.

This was executed by a group of Rebels, including Luke Skywalker, and he was able to trigger a catastrophic reaction in the Death Star when he shot proton torpedoes into the thermal exhaust port. The Death Star exploded, killing all aboard it including ISB colonel Wullf Yularen and Grand Moff Tarkin.Star Wars death Star explained: Death Star wreckage in rise of skywalker

The second Death Star explained

In the aftermath of the destruction of the first Death Star, a second Death Star was planned to replace it. The second Death Star was created with the same aims and technical abilities, absent of the flaw that saw the first destroyed.

The Rebellion soon learned of the second Death Star, and its location, from Bothan spies. The second Death Star was being constructed in the orbit of the forest moon of Endor, which the Rebellion alliance brought its fleet to in order to destroy it once again.

After the shields were deactivated on the ground, the Rebel fleet was able to attack and destroy the second Death Star. Luke was aboard it at this time, fighting the Sith lords Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine, but he was able to escape before it exploded.

The remains of the second Death Star could be found in wreckage on the ocean moon Kef Bir. Rey, Finn, and Poe visited the wreckage to uncover Emperor Palpatine’s Wayfinder device. It was also on the ruins of the second Death Star that Rey and Kylo-Ren had a water soaked duel.

And, that’s all we know about the Death Star (in both its forms). For more on Star Wars check out our guide to the best Star Wars cameos and Star Wars bounty hunters. Or, to keep up with Andor take a look at our guide to the Andor season 2 release date as well as our explainers on the Star Wars characters in the Andor cast: Luthen Rael, Dedra Meero, Syril Karn, Mon Mothma, and Maarva.

Don’t forget to take a look at our new movies and best movies lists, too.