This question got me thinking whether the elevator shaft from the Emperor's throne room led all the way to the reactor core.

To borrow a quote from an answer in that question ...

When at last he reaches the open shaft he hurls the Emperor down into the reactor. It’s a long, long way down and the Emperor fires his lightning upward as he falls.

He might still have used his powers to save himself, but his hate is now so strong his only thought is to cause Vader more pain. So the lightning continues to flicker and flash even after the body is out of sight.

And then comes a great explosion when his body finally reaches the reactor and a poisonous wind races up the shaft, knocking Vader at last to the floor.

Beware the Power of the Dark Side!

There were spaceships flying around the reactor core so it must have been open to the vacuum of space. And the top of the elevator shaft ends in the Emperor's throne room, so it must have had air in it. Otherwise, how would Luke or the Emperor breathe? And if the bottom of the shaft was open to the reactor core, all the air would have rushed out to space.

Edit to add:

The movie shows the Millennium Falcon taking a few minutes to reach the reactor chamber, but Sidious dies just seconds after being thrown into the elevator shaft.

Did Darth Sidious fall all the way to the reactor core?

  • 1
    Its worth noting that in star wars there are a lot of invisible force fields keeping the air in. It does seem odd though that a force field that could potentially be switched off is the only thing between the vacuum of space and the emperor's throne room
    – Jack
    Dec 23, 2016 at 5:42
  • The most convincing piece of evidence I could provide (which is fairly persuasive) is already in the quote given in your question.
    – Adamant
    Dec 23, 2016 at 5:44
  • @Jack If a force field is the only thing keeping the air inside the Emperor's throne room, I can imagine the janitor accidentally flipping the switch for the force field and killing the Emperor! Oops! Sorry about that, Palpy!
    – RichS
    Dec 23, 2016 at 5:54
  • It seems clear that (a) the reactor is somewhat open to space, and (b) there are fields keeping the air in. But in any case, it would likely take something more than mere evacuation of air to kill a Sith Lord.
    – Adamant
    Dec 23, 2016 at 5:54
  • 1
    +1 This is a great point! For the starships, with powerful thrusters, it takes dozens of minutes to reach the core, but Sidious falls into it in a couple of seconds? His throne room sure was in a tower, on the surface of Death Star II, so he should fall the very same distance. If I had to retcon this, I'd say Sidious hit only a generator or something in the bottom of the tower, not the core reactor.
    – Essen
    Dec 23, 2016 at 9:05

1 Answer 1


The large chamber in which the reactor is housed was open to space, but the interior of the reactor itself seemed to be closed off.

enter image description here

It's true that the large chamber housing the reactor is open to space, which is how the Rebel ships and tie fighters got in, but the reactor itself seems to be sealed. Here is a schematic of the hypermatter reactor core from the first Death Star:

enter image description here

Assuming that the reactor design did not change significantly between the two Death Stars, there is nothing in the quoted text to suggest that Palpatine fell into the large open chamber around the reactor; rather, falling "into the reactor" would seem to suggest that he fell into the enclosed reactor structure (or at least the top, semi-spherical part of it) depicted above.

  • 3
    An open elevator shaft goes into the reactor core? That's surely a design flaw! It's like some Death Star engineer really has it in for the Emperor!
    – RichS
    Dec 23, 2016 at 6:10
  • @RichS : Crazy, I know! But, nonetheless, it's possible to reconcile the quoted text with the actual design of the reactor. :-)
    – Praxis
    Dec 23, 2016 at 6:12
  • @RichS - It seems that Palpatine himself did that on purpose, to unnerve people. Much as Vader had an evil fortress on Mustafar (though there were perhaps other reasons for that).
    – Adamant
    Dec 23, 2016 at 6:17
  • 1
    "Why do we even have that shaft?"
    – EvilSnack
    Mar 22, 2020 at 16:16

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