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Death Star

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The Death Star is a fictional moon-sized space station and superweapon. It was invented for the Star Wars movies. It was a huge spherical space station which fired a ray of energy which could destroy a planet.

Origin and design

The details of the Death Star changed between different models during production of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. These changes include the position of the superlaser. The idea of the Death Star as a large, spherical space station was the same in all the models.[1] The sound of the Death Star counting down until it fires comes from the Flash Gordon movies.[2] Making a Death Star that was only partly built (but was still powerful) was a problem for Industrial Light & Magic's modelmakers for Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. [3] Only the front side of the 137-centimeter model was finished. The image was flipped horizontally for the final movie.[3] Both Death Stars were created in the movies by using a full models, models of sections of the space station and matte paintings.[1][3]



The first Death Star was shown in its finished form in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It was commanded by Grand Moff Tarkin (Peter Cushing). The Death Star was the Galactic Empire's "ultimate weapon". The movie begins with Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) taking the station's plans to the Rebel Alliance. She is trying to help them destroy the Death Star. Tarkin has the Death Star destroy Leia's home world of Alderaan. He does this to try to make her tell him here the secret Rebel base is. She tells them a location but not the real one. Tarkin has her planet destroyed anyway. Later, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) goes to the station with his friends. They save Leia. In the movie's main battle scene, Skywalker uses his power in the Force to help him destroy the station.

Return of the Jedi takes place four years later. At this time, the Empire is building a new Death Star. It is half-finished in the movie. Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid) and Darth Vader (David Prowse/James Earl Jones) send the Rebels false information. This information says that the station's weapons systems are not working yet. They do this to trap the Rebels. They also want to get Skywalker on board so they can turn him to the dark side of the Force. In the movie's climax, Vader throws Palpatine down the station's reactor core. This kills him. Vader is badly hurt doing this and soon dies. Skywalker takes Vader's body and leaves the Death Star just before it is destroyed.

The first Death Star is also dealt with in the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Its schematics are shown in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones. At the end of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, the Death Star is shown starting to be built.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Death Star (behind the scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 
  2. Rinzler, J. W. (2010-09-01). The sounds of Star Wars. Chronicle Books. p. 82. ISBN 978-0811875462 . 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Death Star II (behind the scenes)". Star Wars Databank. Lucasfilm. Retrieved 2007-09-08. 

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