Bases & Space Stations
In an Empire ruled through fear, nothing symbolized Emperor Palpatineís oppression better than the infamous Death Star battle station. However, the Death Star also represented the Empireís greatest weakness: the tendency to consider technology supreme, and to underestimate its foes. This weakness resulted in the first Death Starís destruction over Yavin, although not before it had destroyed the peaceful world of Alderaan, killing billions of innocent people.
The Death Star was commanded by Tarkin, but Lord Darth Vader served as the Emperorís emissary and wielded the widest possible authority to enforce the Emperorís will.
The initial technical design of the Death Star, known at the time as the Ultimate Weapon, was created by Geonosian Industries and called for a spherical-like battle station capable of destroying Galactic Republic forces and planets under their control.
The Death Starís centerpiece was an awesome, planet-destroying superlaser. The weapon was used only twice: first to destroy the penal world of Despayre (where the Death Star was built) and second to obliterate Alderaan.
Everything about the Death Star boggles the imagination. At 160 kilometers in diameter, it was the size of a Class IV moon and was the largest starship ever built (at least until the construction of the larger second Death Star). Fully half of the battle stationís interior was filled by the reactor core, the sublight and hyperdrive systems, and the superlaser housing.
The Death Star was divided into two hemispheres, each subdivided into 12 bridge-controlled zones. It was comprised of eighty-four separate internal levels, stacked south to north. Each level was separated into 257 sub-levels.
The station had a crew of over 265,000 soldiers. Gunners, ground troops, starship support crew, and pilots brought the total onboard personnel to nearly 1 million beings. Even more amazing, these figures indicated minimum crew standards.
For weaponry, in addition to the superlaser, the Death Star had 15,000 capital ship turbolasers and over 700 tractor-beam projectors. These projectors could capture virtually any ship and, when working in conjunction with one another, could reel in even an Imperial Star Destroyer. The Death Star also maintained an awesome array of support ships and vehicles, with 7,000 TIE fighters, four strike cruisers, over 20,000 military transport vessels, and over 11,000 combat vehicles.
Despite all these awesome advantages, simple errors doomed the station. First, the Death Starís defenses were built around the idea of repelling a capital ship attack; starfighters were considered "insignificant" by Imperial military strategists. And when the Alliance mounted its assault over Yavin, the Rebels could send only two squadrons each of X-wing and Y-wing fighters. Grand Moff Tarkin considered the attack inconsequential. He refused to launch TIE fighters in defense of the station, and only the TIE fighters under Lord Vaderís direct command were deployed against the Allianceís fighters.
As a result of those errors of arrogance, the mightiest weapon in the history of the galaxy was destroyed by a simple proton torpedo fired down an unshielded exhaust vent. This Achillesí heel allowed the Empireís enemies to detonate the Death Starís power core and win the day.