I don't recall this being explained in the movie, but did the Republic/Resistance have any idea the Starkiller base existed before it

Completely obliterated the Hosnian Prime system?

Did no one notice the fact that something way bigger than the Death Star was wandering around the area eating entire stars for nefarious purposes? Surely a patrol or a trade ship would have noticed something while the Starkiller was being constructed, or someone would have noticed the massive amount of supplies being obtained by the First Order to build the Starkiller that probably took a couple of years to build, and someone would have investigated.

Or was the First Order that good at playing hide and seek with an entire planet of death?

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    They had plans for it at hand pretty quickly for just having found out it existed...
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 20:44
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    I believe the Starkiller was located inside First Order territory and wasn't mobile. (Its special trick was that it could destroy planets anywhere in the galaxy.) Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 20:47
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    @HarryJohnston If they couldn't move it, then how would they be able to eat more than one star for energy? Seems like they would eat the one or two in their system and then not be able to fire again, unless there were more stars close by.
    – Toothless
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 20:54
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    @NathanK.Campbell - nope. It fired throigh hyperspace. The ultimate gun that can shoot around the corners Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:11
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3 Answers 3


1. No, they did not know about Starkiller base before.

TFA novelization by Alan Dean Foster establishes that (and, ironically, answers your presumably sarcastic quip about "Surely a patrol or a trade ship would have noticed something" ! :)

In the main conference room of the base on D’Qar, an ongoing strategy session had brought together the leaders of the Resistance. Leia, Poe, C-3PO, Han, and an assortment of senior officers including Statura and Ackbar were assembled around a three-dimensional map of an isolated, frozen planet that up until now had not been worth a hopeful visit from a minor trading ship. Finn was present, too, since it was his information about the world in question that had prompted the gathering.

“The scan data from Captain Snap Wexley’s reconnaissance flight confirms everything Finn has told us,” Poe announced to the group. Wexley spoke up. “They’ve built a new kind of hyperspace weapon within the planet itself. Something that can fire across interstellar distances in the equivalent of real time.” His expression showed his incredulity. “I’ve had my share of technical training, but I can’t even imagine how that’s possible.”

2. If you look at the Galaxy Map in the Visual Dictionary, Starkiller base isn't exactly where everyone would be likely to look.

  • Starkiller base is not only out in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the Galaxy

  • It's in the Unknown Regions specifically, where few people go.

    There was a reason First Order retreated there.

  • It's directly on the opposite side of the Galaxy from the Rebellion's center on D'Quar

    enter image description here

3. How would anyone know what they are looking at anyway?

It's NOT a giant metal moon. It's a real planet.

You wouldn't know something was amiss even if there was a trading ship around (and as shown in #1, there wasn't).

  • The novelization sounds like it might be worth a read. Thanks for that. I wasn't trying to introduce sarcasm in my initial post if it came across that way - just curiosity as to how they kept it secret. I'm reminded of the "Loose Lips Destroy Ships" picture that was posted in another thread about TFA.
    – Toothless
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:03
  • @Toothless - too bad. It was a good kind of sarcasm :) Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:07
  • oO THAT far? how the hell did they manage to cross that distance in just a mere 30 m inutes? oO
    – Thomas
    Commented Dec 23, 2015 at 17:43

I think The Force Awakens has established one fact above all others:

The Star Wars universe is vast, and the search technologies available are weak.

They literally couldn’t find a planet with an annotated map. The planets on the map even had names!

But even with amazing search and mapping capabilities, we’d still be left with the fact that the “Galaxy Far Far Away” is still a galaxy. It is made of billions of stars, and apparently a majority of them have planets.

Carl Sagan answered this question

  • @JakeGould Hah, well they should rethink that. Han is incredibly strong in the Force -- he just doesn't know it.
    – user40790
    Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 21:31
  • @JakeGould Han does explain later when they land on Takonda that the reason they are there is to get clean ships because (paraphrasing slightly as only seen it once) "If Chewie and I can track the Falcon you can bet the First Order can too" Commented Dec 31, 2015 at 10:48

This has stood out to me as a major flaw in the narrative of TFA and I don't feel as if the aforementioned responses are convincing enough. Even if we accept that this system is so remote in the galaxy that the Republic had never even visited or seen it, how would the First Order even be able to test Starkiller Base unnoticed? This weapon is draining the freaking Sun! The entire system would feel the effects of this. This isn't to suggest that there must be other inhabited planets nearby, this may may very well be completely remote, but there's no way the First Order would be able to even test this weapon without drawing suspicion. It must have taken a dozen if not hundreds of tests to perfect this technology. How many malfunctions, misfires, or other issues do you think they might have run into? I just don't understand how something that MASSIVE with that much firepower would go unnoticed.


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