This is sort of an analytical question. Having seen Rogue One, I re-watched some of the scenes from A New Hope, including the two scenes above and analyzing the dialogue, the answer seems to be "no." Tarkin once says he believes that it is time to test the station's full destructive power, not its destructive power. Note: I didn't have the whole film on me, so I might have missed some key lines.

  • 1
    What I'm asking is if there is anything that seems to contradict what Tarkin said.
    – Sagierian
    Dec 18, 2016 at 22:08
  • TARKIN: I think it is time we demonstrate the full power of this station.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2016 at 22:09
  • 4
    TARKIN: Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that'll be destroyed first.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2016 at 22:10
  • TAGGE: Until this battle station is fully operational we are vulnerable.
    – Valorum
    Dec 18, 2016 at 22:16
  • 7
    "including the two scenes above" — Err, what scenes?
    – jwodder
    Dec 19, 2016 at 3:43

3 Answers 3


A New Hope does specifically state that Alderaan was the first planet destroyed by the Death Star, as mentioned by Valorum.

Tarkin: Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that'll be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power... on your home planet of Alderaan.

However, there is, as far as I can tell, no indication that it hadn't fired before. Tarkin mentions that he wants to demonstrate the "full power" of the station.

Tarkin: I think it is time we demonstrate the full power of this station.

Rogue One does not contradict this, as the Death Star

only destroys the city of Jedha and the Scarif Imperial base, never an entire planet or moon.

The Rogue One Ultimate Visual Guide reaffirms this.

enter image description here

[Emphasis mine:]

It is only a fractional test: a small portion of its total reactor yield is siphoned into superlaser blast targeted at Jedha City, The results are unmistakably devastating, and a humbling preview of the power a full-powered test could produce.

A New Hope also never implies that Alderaan is the Death Star's first target, only that it's the first public one.

Tarkin: You're far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration. But don't worry. We will deal with your Rebel friends soon enough.

In Rogue One, Tarkin mentions that the Death Star is still being kept secret from the Senate.

Overall, there seems to be no implication in A New Hope that the Death Star had never fired before.

  • I think the I have chosen to test this station's destructive power line is more telling: it's not a test if you've used it before and know it works. Dec 19, 2016 at 8:26
  • 4
    Though you can test something multiple times, and you can test different things each time you do a test, or repeat a test to make sure you get the same result, so that line doesn't preclude them having fired it before. Dec 19, 2016 at 9:07
  • 7
    @CrowTRobot Having destroyed a city isn't realy testing the stations destructive power, is it? its supposed to be able to destroy planets, and thats what Tarkins wants to test...
    – Polygnome
    Dec 19, 2016 at 11:47
  • 2
    That there were test firings, even if not at full power, is just common sense. Rolling out complicated military equipment without making sure it works is a very bad idea, and the Empire was hardly pressed for time, so they didn't need to cut corners.
    – Oskuro
    Dec 23, 2016 at 9:54

Having seen Episode IV many times, I always assumed that what was shown in the movie was the first super-laser test. The particularly relevant lines are:

Until this battle station is fully operational, we are vulnerable.

This implies that some functions of the station are already functional. But that goes without saying. Life support obviously works, since they are having a meeting onboard.

And later:

The final checkout is complete. All systems are operational. What course shall we set?

In each case, there is no specific claim that the weapons systems are not operational to any extent. However, that seems to be the implication.

Moreover, in Episode VI, it is much more strongly implied that the second DEATH STAR's weapon is either fully operation or not functional at all. Lando is shocked that the battle station is capable of even destroying a rebel cruiser.

That blast came from the DEATH STAR! That thing's operational!

I does not seem like an intermediate level of super-laser functionality was countenanced in the original trilogy.

  • 6
    The second Death Star being fully operational is more surprising because it appears to only be partially built.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Dec 18, 2016 at 23:49
  • Well, yes, it's more surprising for sure. The point is that they do not expect a distinction between "operational" and "fully operational."
    – Buzz
    Dec 18, 2016 at 23:59

Remember that Rogue One takes place in the weeks or days before ANH starts. So news of what really happened to Jedah City and Scarif would not have had time to disseminate. Furthermore,

Palpatine informs the Senate that Jedah City was destroyed by a mining accident. Scarif, being an Imperial base, would likely not have had anyone outside the Empire notice the attack at all in a timely manner

What Rogue One does is turn up the need to demonstrate the Death Star so that people would quickly become afraid of the Empire.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.