We know the first main use of the Death Star was the destruction of Alderaan and was referred to as a test, or demonstration.

Before that is there any information on the Death Star having been tested?


3 Answers 3


Yes, at least twice

The Death Star proper was tested twice before the destruction of Alderaan:

  • The first time, it was used to destroy the city of Jedha (on the moon of Jedha, orbiting NaJedha):

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    The Death Star’s overbridge was dark except for the lit rows of instrumentation and the glow of the main display. Dominating that vast screen was what remained of the valley of the Holy City of Jedha: a churning, whirling, burning storm of sand and rock shards. The air, ionized by the energy of the Death Star’s weapon, flashed with lightning. At the storm’s epicenter, the crater of the incinerated city smoldered where the beam had sublimed the outermost layer of the moon’s crust.

    This was not the fate Krennic had envisioned for Jedha. The Death Star was designed to obliterate worlds, not maim them. Yet he wondered if the moon would ever recover from such an attack, or whether the cascading effects of a burning atmosphere and broken crust would result in a tortuous death played out across millennia. He felt in his bones that his weapon had exposed something profound—about the nature of worlds, about their lifeblood and their death throes—though he could not have put it into words. Maybe, he thought, that’s what poets are for.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • The second time, it was used to destroy the Imperial Citadel on the planet of Scarif, in order to prevent the Rebels from transmitting the Death Star plans (and, it should be noted, for Tarkin to get revenge on Orson Krennic, director of the Death Star project).

    enter image description here

    The Death Star was pulsing with emerald light. Jyn tried not to tense. She wasn’t afraid of what would happen, but she didn’t want to suffer. Somehow she found herself closer to Cassian than before. Her breathing matched his, or his matched hers, deep and steady.

    The Death Star flared too bright to watch and a tremor went through the beach. The placid waves rolled higher, spraying flecks of warm seawater over Jyn’s cheeks like tears. An unfathomable rumble echoed ten or a thousand kilometers away.

    Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

In addition, a superlaser prototype for the Death Star was tested long before the events of Rogue One, by firing it into a black hole.

Computer modeling showed the lasers’ twin collimating beams racing away from the Star Destroyer. Then, captured by gravity, the beams become one, changing vector and accelerating beyond lightspeed as it disappeared into the mask’s churning accretion envelope.

Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel

It’s perhaps worth noting that in none of these cases was the Death Star tested at full power. The first two were in single-reactor mode, and thus only caused catastrophic damaged to the crust of a planet, rather than destroying it. The last, of course, was merely a few lasers fired from a Star Destroyer in the early phases of the Death Star project, not the Death proper.

  • Worth noting that the use on Scarif was probably real and not a test
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Dec 29, 2016 at 9:06

Legends continuity

The Star Wars Wikia has a page on the Death Star that states the laser of the Death Star was tested a couple of times. Once on an Imperial Star Destroyer and once on Despayre, the planet where the station was constructed.

An extract from this page:

In 0 BBY, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, perhaps while the Alliance Intelligence investigated the existence of a superweapon, was informed about it by a soldier she rescued on Ralltiir. The existence was justified by Intelligence on AX-235. Rianna Saren's report on the Destruction of Despayre confirmed the power of the battlestation's superlaser.

In addition, Rahm Kota issued a reconnaissance mission to the station to gather intel on its primary systems, in particular its superlaser weapon. X2 personally volunteered for the mission, feeling indebted to trying to stop the Empire he unwittingly aided in creating. At this time, the tributary beam had just been shipped to the Death Star, which X2 discovered via a transmission from X1 intended for the commander of the Death Star. X2, under Kota's command, then made an impromptu superlaser test on an Imperial-class Star Destroyer that the Rebels had hijacked and scuttled earlier, causing them to realize the unimaginable destructive power behind the weapon.

  • I've clarified that this is a Legends answer, which is not in Disney canon (which Rogue One is part of). Dec 29, 2016 at 2:41

Per Rogue One

The Death Star was tested by firing in "single reactor" mode at Jedah City. The destruction was blamed on a mining accident

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