From How does the Death Star gravity work? we learn that:

Gravity within the battle station was handled by omni-directional gravity boosters built into the decks, walls and ceilings. These gravity boosters changed orientation as easily as flipping a switch, and they were designed to allow the gravity orientation to be altered from sector to sector, or even from corridor to corridor. While hangar bays imposed gravity perpendicular to the Death Star's core, adjoining corridors shifted the gravity orientation to coreward. [...]

Source: West End Games D6 Roleplaying Game (Second Edition) supplement Death Star Technical Companion, Chapter Two: Technical Specifications, p. 16, right column (source uncovered by BMWurm)

So while those omni-directional gravity boosters allow to adjust orientation on a per-sector basis and also to make transitions in between (e.g in the turbolifts), why make the orientation different in different sections?

I'll go with the explaination of the Emperor's Throne room (see Why was the Death Star's tractor beam not used as a weapon during the battles?) and dismiss windows in the walls as an aesthetic choice of the Empereror. But what about other sections?

A prominent example are the hangar bays. While most sectors show a coreward gravity orientation, i.e. the deck you walk on is a sphere (just like you'd expect on any celestial body) and the walls are perpendicular to it, the hangars are different. There gravity is perpendicular to the rest of the station. The hangar deck is that what would be a sidewall in other sections. A fact not only stated by the source listed above but also well established in the movies ANH and ROTJ. However hangars would just work fine if ships where to land coming in from the "roof", e.g. land like on a real planet.

So, what is the rationale for this design choice?

  • 2
    Note the dimensions of the hangar: it extends much more deeply into the Death Star than broadly along its surface (or parallel to its surface). So there is much more room to park spacecraft on "what would be a sidewall in other sections" than there would be on a normally-oriented deck.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 19:31
  • While this is right, it is worth to not the sheer size of the DS's surface area. That thing is huge.
    – Ghanima
    Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 19:38
  • 1
    It seems obvious to me that a hanger that you can fly into "horizontally" (relative to the gravity field) is going to be more convenient than one you have to drop down into vertically. Spaceships aren't helicopters. A horizontal hanger is going to let you get ships in and out far more quickly. Commented Jan 16, 2016 at 23:41
  • Because it is ridiculous and unimaginably inconvenient? Can you imagine an elevator where you start out standing on the floor, but end up standing on what used to be the ceiling because the level you're going to is upside down relative to the level where you started? Would you have to suddenly flip upside down halfway through the ride, or would you be standing on the walls halfway through?
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 3:32
  • 1
    @WadCheber, well that's exactly what the turbolifts do (according to the source), smooth transition of the gravity's direction during your ride. And Harry, no, Spaceships are not helicopters but they certainly are capable for VTOL (see take-off of the Falcon from Mos Eisley space port or landing of numerous ships on Coruscant's landing platforms.
    – Ghanima
    Commented Jan 17, 2016 at 9:26


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