51

Comments in another question led me to this image from A New Hope:

Millenium Falcon entering Bay 327

Why are stormtroopers walking around outside near the turbolaser batteries? What is there to guard or patrol in the cold vacuum of space? Are they doing an exterior patrol?

These appear to be regular stormtroopers. Maybe there is an extra pack suggestive of an EVA (Extravehicular Activity) shown.

  • 6
    No clue as to why they feel the need for exterior guards, but they'd have one hell of a view from their post :-) – maguirenumber6 Dec 21 '16 at 20:52
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    cigarette break? – Crazy Dino Dec 21 '16 at 21:02
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    Isn't that bay near the Death Star's equator. Shouldn't Artificial Gravity point towards the center of the station? The Falcon and the Stormtroopers don't seem to think so, – David Tonhofer Dec 21 '16 at 22:56
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    @DavidTonhofer I'd guess the artificial gravity comes from the deck plates or something. – ceejayoz Dec 22 '16 at 19:05
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    @CrazyDino where's there's a will, there's EVA? – terdon Dec 22 '16 at 23:08
40

They're Spacetroopers

They were retconned identified as such at Celebration Anaheim 2015, and got a collectible toy release from Hot Toys; quoting from their description:

The Spacetroopers are assigned to operate in Zero-G environments, and true Star Wars fans will see these troopers making their appearance when the Millennium Falcon was first captured by the Death Star.

[...]

This specialized trooper features a beautifully crafted armor and helmet, a highly detailed Spacetrooper rebreather pack with detachable parts, two types of blasters, and a specially designed figure stand.

Unfortunately, there's no mention of what they expect to find while patrolling the outside of a space station. For all we know, they're painting the hull.

  • 2
    Where else are you gonna station a trooper who pissed off the Sergeant or god forbid, the Major? No Alaska on Death Star... but there is outer space, all cold-like. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '16 at 21:18
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    @DVK-in-exile I'm guessing the two in that picture walked in on Tarkin and Admiral Daala – Jason Baker Dec 21 '16 at 22:29
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    @DVK-in-exile space is not cold as Alaska :P – xDaizu Dec 22 '16 at 9:30
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    Gotta check the hull for Mynocks or Space Harpies! – PhasedOut Dec 22 '16 at 14:53
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    Marketing guy: "Mr. Lucas, we have an issue, we have thousands of stormtrooper toys in stock and nobody is buying them anymore!". G. Lucas: "Mmmm... I see... Oh well, it ain't no stormtrooper! These are spacetroopers! Get them rebranded as such and I will make an statement for true Star Wars fan". Marketing guy: "You are a genius, Mr Lucas. Have you ever considered a job in marketing?" Mr Lucas "I would not know what to do at marketing at all..." – SJuan76 Dec 22 '16 at 23:45
26

As mentioned elsewhere, these are spacetroopers. There are all sorts of threats that could be spotted outside a space station, “in the cold vacuum of space,” and potentially effectively combated by stormtroopers:

  • Spacefaring animals, such as the purrgil. These probably wouldn’t pose an existential threat to a station as big as the Death Star, but could probably fly in and harass troopers, damage weapons, and so forth.
  • Space-faring droids used as weapons. Buzz droids would be a particular threat, with the potential to destroy important installations, as demonstrated in the Rebel attack on the Star Destroyer Perilous.

    Two vultures headed directly for the shield generator. He destroyed one and then another, but the buzz droids they carried floated out of the fire of the vultures’ destruction, glommed on to the shield generator, and there exploded into flame.

    Lords of the Sith

    The enemies of the Empire could even be employing leftover rocket battle droids, perhaps.

  • Even humans in space suits might be able to move along the outside of the ship, and potentially damage weapons or infiltrate the battle station.

  • 5
    You may want to mention the real Earth military equivalent of eyeball guarding against saboteures in diving suits by the Navy – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 21 '16 at 21:19
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    Let's not forget that they might be able to spot ships attached to the hull in radar blindspots. – IllusiveBrian Dec 21 '16 at 22:05
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    It could also be a form of training or drill. The military loves to have idle troops doing pointless tasks. – Kevin Milner Dec 22 '16 at 16:42
24

This scene is taken wholesale from the Ralph McQuarrie concept art seen below:

Death Star Concept

In the concept art, troopers in black armor, presumably pressurized space suits similar to those of Darth Vader and TIE Pilots, stand in for the Stormtroopers / Spacetroopers seen in the final film.

Perhaps Stormtrooper extras were easier to source when filming.

In-(concept)-universe, these black-suited units are easier to imagine as Turbolaser Engineers and Death Star Trench Maintenance Staff than the military Stormtroopers seen in the final film. Perhaps they're even independent contractors.

After all,

"Do you think the average Stormtrooper knows how to [repair a Turbolaser]? All they know is killing and white uniforms."

14

They’re there to provide scale in the film, otherwise there wouldd be no way to tell if the “ceiling” in that shot was 20cm or 20m above their heads.

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    The Millennium Falcon provides scale, and the ceiling directly above the stormtroopers, which are closer in the foreground, is out of the shot. – Random832 Dec 22 '16 at 21:09
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    @Random832 - The Falcon is in the distance and you can't judge the size of the turbolasers from it. The stormtroopers are close to them and show that they're ******* huge! – Jules Dec 23 '16 at 4:07
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    This is a perfect answer. To be fair—and I think anyone discussing the 1977 Star Wars film—needs to realize that first film has tons of scenes that have a visual basis purely in scale and size. The opening scene with the Star Destroyer chasing the Rebel ship, the scene where the Millennium Falcon comes out of hyperspace near Alderaan and keeps on getting closer and closer to the Death Star (and the scene in this question) as well as the final battle with X-Wing pilots commenting on the “size of that thing.” Scale, size and visual cues are important in a film like this. – JakeGould Dec 29 '16 at 4:11

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