It’s no secret that Rogue One follows a band of rebels tasked with stealing the plans to the Death Star. But what many people don’t know is how it was created in the first place.
Pitched as a prequel to the Rogue One film, James Luceno’s novel Star Wars: Catalyst finally answers questions fans have been asking for almost 40 years. The book explores the Death Star’s inception, following key players in the superweapon’s creation.
Check out our list of fascinating Death Star facts in the gallery, but be prepared for major spoilers from the novel.
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1. The Republic justified the Death Star's construction, because they had "high confidence" that Count Dooku was building one as well.
Republic intelligence believed Count Dooku's forces were "constructing a battle station somewhere in the galaxy," so naturally they needed to build one first—using Republic funding, of course. But they had already obtained Dooku's Death Star plans, and there was never legitimate evidence that the Separatists were also working on one.
Death Star, StarWars.com
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2. Construction on the first Death Star began in space above Geonosis—using equipment from battle droid foundries.
The rocky planet with battle droid foundries and that crazy fighting arena from Episode II was indeed the birthplace of the Death Star. By cannibalizing the foundries and mining the planet's asteroids, the Republic had startup resources at hand.
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3. Geonosians were the first construction workers (and casualties) on the Death Star.
Machines created the bones of the Death Star, but Geonosian leader Poggle the Lesser struck a deal with the Republic to use his citizens as the first sentient labor force. "This will be the greatest enterprise in which the hive has ever participated," Poggle said to a packed arena of Geonosians. "Not merely because of the scale, but also because the work will necessitate that many of you execute it from inside the orb itself—in space, from where you will be able to gaze down in wonder on our homeworld." He failed to mention that many would die on the Death Star competing for work.
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4. Orson Krennic established a research foundation to trick Galen Erso into weaponizing the Death Star.
Orson Krennic, the Imperial Military's Director of Advanced Weapons Research, knew that only one scientist could design an energy source powerful enough for the Death Star's superlaser. The catch? The scientist, Galen Erso, refused to use his research for military purposes. So Orson hired Galen as head of Project Celestial Power, a think tank seeking to develop power sources for other planets using energy from kyber crystals (aka: the Force-attuned crystals that power lightsabers). What Galen didn't know was that Orson was passing along the research to other teams, who were then tasked with using the findings to weaponize the Death Star.
Orson Krennic, StarWars.com
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5. Saw Gerrera is responsible for halting the Death Star's superlaser research.
After realizing that Orson had tricked him, Galen knew that he and his family needed to escape Project Celestial Power's facility on Coruscant. It was Clone Wars veteran Saw Gerrera who successfully smuggled the family off the planet and found them a new home on Lah'mu. Without Saw, Galen would have been immediately captured and forced to continue his research—meaning the Death Star could have been weaponized years earlier than the events in the films.
Saw Gerrera, StarWars.com