43

In A New Hope, the Death Star is only referred to as such (in dialogue) on four separate occasions; three of which are the intercom at the rebel base on Massassi, so I'm not sure they count as truly separate. It does appear in writing in the opening crawl and, likewise, in The Empire Strikes Back (where it is obviously not verbally mentioned at all). In Return of the Jedi, it appears again in the crawl and in dialogue -- to my count -- five times (more, but not by much given the plot). I haven't had a look through the scripts of the prequels; however, I would assume it's hardly mentioned, as it's still in the planning phase.

Anyway, it seems the only time it is referred to as the "Death Star" by an agent of the Empire is that one non-intercom-time in A New Hope and again by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Was the "Death Star" therefore an informal name used by the Rebellion -- albeit sparingly -- that caught on with the Empire as time went on and, if so, did it have an official designation?

  • 17
    I like to think it was officially called the Mobile Imperial Space Station for Peace, Prosperity, Order and Happiness. Makes me think of an article that mentioned the idea that smear tests should be renamed to something that sounded nicer, and the author suggested “vaginal scrapey fun times”. – Paul D. Waite Dec 15 '15 at 14:58
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    It wasn't the first name. This photo was taken during the brainstorming session. – Reinstate Monica Dec 15 '15 at 15:35
  • 8
    Obviously it was supposed to be the Peace Moon. – aslum Dec 15 '15 at 20:14
  • 3
    They were going to designate it as Poorly Designed Deathtrap, but DeathStar won out. – Major Stackings Dec 15 '15 at 22:58
  • 2
    @aslum: That's no moon. – Dan Barron Dec 16 '15 at 20:33
30

Palpatine himself refers to it as a Battle Station

The Emperor: [In the throne room, Luke is watching the Imperial fleet attack the Rebels from the huge throne room window] As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!
Source

General Tagge:

General Tagge: What of the Rebellion? If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical reading of this station1, it is possible, however unlikely, they might find a weakness and exploit it.
Source

Would this thing even need a number DS1


I'm tending to dismiss Wika on this one, they are using the Star Wars Roleplaying Game Saga Edition, I'm not convinced that's canon


1 Emphasis mine

  • Not to mention that there was a huge, divisive debate on the site about whether the "DS-1" label was actually its official name or just what the propaganda called it after its destruction. – Milo P Dec 15 '15 at 17:53
  • Aye-firmative!! – Athena Widget Dec 15 '15 at 18:14
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    "Would this thing even need a number?" Well, they built 2, soooo... – jpmc26 Dec 15 '15 at 18:55
  • The Star Wars Roleplaying Game (all versions) is in Legends Continuity. In fact, when Timothy Zahn was writing the Thrawn trilogy, Lucasfilm gave him a set of all the books currently published and told him to incorporate content from them in his books. – Thunderforge Dec 15 '15 at 22:15
  • 1
    @jpmc26: yeah, and the second one took much less time to build so they might have considered to enter mass production at that point… – Holger Dec 17 '15 at 12:12
50

According to the new (Disney Canon) junior novel, 'Star Wars: The Princess, the Scoundrel and the Farm Boy', the Station was codenamed the Death Star;

But the system had been swarming with Imperials. They’d caught on to Leia’s bogus tale about her ship’s breaking down, but the cover had helped her stall long enough to download the technical plans for something code-named “Death Star.”

In Star Wars: A New Hope, it's referred to as the Death Star by the Imperials themselves:

IMPERIAL OFFICER: The Death Star plans are not in the main computer.

and in the film's Junior Novelisation we get the following internal monologue from Vader

Darth Vader regained control of his damaged TIE fighter. As he headed for the nearest Imperial outpost, he was not preoccupied about how he would explain the loss of the Death Star to the Emperor.

Notably, we also learn that the team tasked with the creation of the Death Star was the

Death Star Project


While it's by no means certain that the official name for the station is "The Death Star", it's certainly called that by both the Rebels and the Empire.

  • should that "not preoccupied" read "now preoccupied"? – Kyralessa Jan 4 '16 at 19:18
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    @Kyralessa - Nope. The full quote explains that he's gonna blame Tarkin. – Valorum Jan 4 '16 at 19:20
16

Canon

According to Rogue One:

Galen Erso, the lead engineer on the Death Star project, says in a hologram to his daughter Jyn that "We call it the Death Star... there's no better name for it." This seems to indicate that the name originated with the engineering team.

Legends

Here's what the novel Death Star (2007) says on the matter:

Incredible to think about. And if he kept racking up missions like the one just completed, there was a very good chance that he would be assigned as unit commander on board the new station.

He led his squad back to the equatorial launching bay. Looking at the awe-inspiring base, he felt a surge of pride in the Empire, and a feeling of gratitude at being a part of the Tarkin Doctrine's glorious mission. There was no official appellation or designation, other than battle station, but there was a name for it that everybody he knew, officers and enlisted alike, used.

They called it the Death Star.

(end of Chapter 1, emphasis mine)

So at the very least, in Legends, it seems like it was an unofficial nickname in the absence of anything official other than "battle station". Note that it still doesn't say where the nickname came from; it could have just as likely been from among the Imperial troops as from Palpatine's original plans for the station, but we do know that it didn't come from the Rebellion since the book starts before the Rebels knew about it.

13

It had a few, more official sounding, names:

  • Death Star I
  • First Death Star
  • DS-1 platform
  • Ultimate Weapon
  • Sentinel Base

The Death Star, also known as the Death Star I, First Death Star, DS-1 platform and previously known as the Ultimate Weapon and Sentinel Base, was a moon-sized deep space mobile battle station constructed by the Galactic Empire after the defeat of the Separatists in the Clone Wars. It boasted a primary weapon with sufficient firepower to destroy an entire planet with a single shot.

  • 7
    Just for the record, "mobile" and "station" are antonyms. (Yeah, I know, they called it a station in the movies, but anything that moves around under it's own power is not a station. Doesn't matter how big it is. Stations are stationary.) – Solomon Slow Dec 15 '15 at 19:56
  • 6
    DS-5 and DS-9 look far less imposing compared to DS-1 and -2. – Nick T Dec 15 '15 at 21:00
  • 3
    @jameslarge but stations usually have thrusters for station-keeping ;) – Nick T Dec 15 '15 at 21:02
  • 2
    "mobile" and "station" are NOT antonyms. The roots/origins of one of the words may be, but language is more fluid then that. You can tell because sometimes when you look up a word in a dictionary, they have numbers before multiple definitions. "Mobile battle station" is entirely correct linguistically speaking. – WraithKenny Dec 16 '15 at 15:01
  • 1
    @WraithKenny yeah, it's mobile, but it's only able to perform as a battle station (ie: blow up planets) when stationary. That said, "stationary" is a somewhat nebulous term when you're in space. :-) – Grimm The Opiner Dec 17 '15 at 8:19
4

Yes in the radio dramatization of A New Hope we hear a conversation between Leia and Captain Antilies (not Wedge Antilies who later flew the Death Star mission with Luke, but rather the Captain of the Tantavive 4) where she asks him:

"Have you ever heard of an Imperial base code named'Death Star'".

Which means that it was the official designation of course if that doesn't convince you (and since it was Leia who said this then the point could be made that she wouldn't know the official designation) well earlier in the dramatization Leia has been told of e Death Star by her father.

She then lets it slip accidentally in front of a high ranking Impearial Official he says and I quote:

" Death Star!? Where did you here that, that is a classified ongoing Impearial progect."

So to answer your question yes Death Star is an Official Designation.

  • It's worth noting that the Star Wars Radio Dramas (though excellent) are not part of the main Star Wars canon. – Valorum Dec 15 '15 at 23:00
  • True but they are in direct correspondents with the official cannon and can probably be relied upon – The Mandolorian Dec 15 '15 at 23:30
  • Their canon status has always been a bit dubious. They were based on the 3rd Draft of the Star Wars screenplay (whereas the film was based on the 4th Draft), nor were they written by George Lucas. – Valorum Dec 15 '15 at 23:31
  • Oh I didn't know that that's interesting thanks for letting me know – The Mandolorian Dec 15 '15 at 23:37
1

A Stormtrooper in ANH when searching the Tantive IV says to Darth Vader

"The Death Star plans are not in the main computer."

This may indicate that the name is official or may have been a slip on that trooper's part

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