In the Rogue One trailer—as well as the actual film itself—we see a Star Destroyer hovering directly over a city on the planet’s surface.

How is it possible?

I thought that all capital ships were built in space, because they were too heavy to lift from the planet’s gravitation after completion.

In the movie, the Star Destroyer hovers over the location for a long time. There are no Repulsorlift that could hold that much weight in the air, so how is that possible?

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    Voting to leave open as this is asking about in-universe technology/physics, and I believe it can have an in-universe answer.
    – Skooba
    Dec 16, 2016 at 12:48
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    Why do you say "There are no repulsorlifts that could hold that much weight in the air"? The very fact that we see it happening throughout the franchise suggests there are!
    – Werrf
    Dec 16, 2016 at 14:08
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    “I thought that all capital ships were built in space, because they were they were too heavy to lift from the planet's gravitation after completion” — YOU THOUGHT WRONG SUCKA Dec 17, 2016 at 12:54
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    I know there are plenty of legends references to shipyards in space (in legends capitol ships don't enter the atmosphere). I can't think of any in the new cannon. Dec 20, 2016 at 9:31
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    As worded, your question is inherently flawed. "There are no Repulsorlift that could hold that much weight in the air, so how is that possible?" Well, there clearly are repulsorlifts that can hold that much weight in the air. It's right there on screen.
    – T.J.L.
    Dec 30, 2016 at 3:06

3 Answers 3


From the Battlefront: Twilight Company novel, which is part of new canon:

"We're in atmosphere," [the Star Destroyer captain] said, embarrassed at his own urgent tone. "We need full power to stay aloft. Any disruption at all - " Star Destroyers were extraordinary vessels, capable of razing mountains and carrying armies. But their mass was measured in millions upon millions of tonnes, and their energy requirements were vast.

Battlefront: Twilight Company Chapter 38

It implies that Star Destroyers are perfectly capable of operating within atmospheres, it just draws a significant amount of power (presumably repulsorlift technology is used to keep aloft, though there may also be ventral thrusters). This is supported by numerous depictions of Star Destroyers operating within atmospheres in Rebels, and Star Wars: Attack of the Clones Incredible Cross-Sections (which is Legends) noting that the massive Lucrehulk core ships use repulsorlift technology to land.

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    I hope you don't mind that I added the quote from the novel Dec 18, 2016 at 4:52
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    It's worth noting as well that Episode II and III had Acclamators and Venerators landing on Coruscant.
    – Mark
    Dec 22, 2016 at 14:22
  • There are also a handful of instances in the clone wars animated series (Not sure if it's canon) where we see star destroyers happily landed on planets offloading clone troopers. Jun 9, 2017 at 18:32
  • Clone Wars is canon. Jan 4, 2020 at 14:14

This image, from Star Wars Rebels:

enter image description here

Rebels is canon, so therefore Star Destroyers are quite capable of operating in a planet's atmosphere.

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    This doesn't explain how it is capable.
    – Chenmunka
    Dec 16, 2016 at 9:44
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    magic from the galaxy far, far away! or if you arent satisfied with that answer... Jar-Jar did it!
    – Cherubel
    Dec 16, 2016 at 10:09
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    Star Destroyers do not even have landing gear so they are not primarily created for this purpose. I'm waiting for an answer in the lines of: "Every capital ship can operate in the atmosphere but they are being built in the space, because this and this..." or "Only smaller Star Destroyers are specifically designed to be able to hover over planet", or "Jabha was a moon so it has lower gravity" or anything that would plausibly (and hopefully canonically) explain how do they operate on the planet surface.
    – Sebustyan
    Dec 16, 2016 at 10:16

It may be a Victory Class. The Victory Class was an early Star Destroyer class that could operate in planetary atmospheres. They were also considerably smaller than the Imperial Class Star Destroyer being only 900 meters long. There were two versions of this class, the Victory I and Victory II.

Sources http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Victory_I-class_Star_Destroyer http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Victory_II-class_Star_Destroyer

  • Looking at an image of the Rogue One Star Destroyer, it's definitely not a Victory-class unless they look completely different in new canon (so far they have only had a mention). Dec 21, 2016 at 5:11
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    Wookieepedia says it's an Imperial I class, which they give an atmospheric speed for. starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Jedha_City
    – David B
    Dec 21, 2016 at 12:24

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