Tarkin, Sidious, and Vader overseeing the Death Star's construction

Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, with assistance from the Geonosians, had plotted to build the first dreaded Death Star -- a weapon unlike anything the galaxy had ever seen. Palpatine, secretly the Sith Lord Darth Sidious, had his apprentice Darth Tyranus (also known as Count Dooku) deliver the plans from Geonosis to Coruscant at the start of the Clone Wars.

Even as the Clone Wars raged, the Death Star secretly took shape in space above Geonosis. Access to the former Separatist world was restricted, with very few in the Imperial hierarchy allowed to know about the battle station’s construction.


The Empire initially appointed Vice Admiral Rancit to supervise the network of bases protecting the Death Star, an effort overseen from the remote Sentinel Base. Rancit’s replacement, Wilhuff Tarkin, faced a host of challenges, from delayed shipments and raw-materials shortages to missed engineering deadlines and attempts at sabotage. Tarkin proved a capable commander, and Palpatine rewarded him by making him a Grand Moff with greater control over the project. Tarkin would become the battle station’s greatest champion, seeing it as the key to vanquishing all resistance to Palpatine’s rule.


The Death Star firing its Superlaser

The Empire completed construction of the Death Star, but Rebel Alliance spies managed to steal data tapes containing its schematics. Their goal: to find a weakness within the superstructure and exploit it. Darth Vader, an Imperial enforcer serving the Emperor and Grand Moff Tarkin, led an Imperial hunt to recover the plans. While he proved unsuccessful on that front, the Sith captured Princess Leia Organa, a suspected Rebel sympathizer. In a display of the Death Star’s might, Grand Moff Tarkin used the space station to destroy the Princess’ home planet of Alderaan, killing billions.

After the Princess’ rescue, however, the stolen plans -- which Leia had hid in the droid R2-D2 -- were finally delivered to the Alliance. It was discovered that a proton torpedo, shot precisely into a small exhaust port, could trigger a reaction that would destroy the Death Star. The Rebels launched a desperate attack, and a young pilot named Luke Skywalker -- strong with the Force -- flew an X-wing down the Death Star’s trench, making the impossible shot. The space station was destroyed, and Tarkin with it. Darth Vader, however, absconded in his TIE Advanced.