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After they all jump into the trash compactor, I believe Han makes a comment that kind of makes it seem he didn't know where they'd end up after jumping through.

So did they know they'd end up in the compactor?

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    They knew it was a garbage chute; LEIA: Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, wise guy. – Valorum Dec 31 '16 at 14:57
  • They were under heavy fire between a wall and stormtroopers, Leia shot open a vent/port/hole covering and they blindly jumped in. Pretty sure they didn't know where it went.I think a better question is why would you have a hole large enough for a person to dive through at knee level (give or take) half way down the hall on a detention block that slides you into a trash compactor? – geewhiz Dec 31 '16 at 14:59
  • I'm guessing Han's "comment" is "Get in there you big furry oaf! I don't care what you smell!" which indicates he doesn't smell whatever Chewbacca smells, but he probably knew it was a garbage chute since Leia just said so a few seconds ago. – Ixrec Dec 31 '16 at 14:59
  • @geewhiz Knee-height for a human, but it might well be optimum height for whatever service droid is responsible for collecting/depositing the garbage in the detention levels. – delinear Feb 15 '17 at 15:42
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At least Leia was aware of what it was:

“Somebody has to save our skins!” she shouted, fire in her eyes. She gestured toward the hole she’d created. “Into the garbage chute, fly boy!”

The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

It’s not clear whether she knew that there was a trash compactor at the bottom. It seems likely, though: she probably has a general idea of what happens to waste on spaceships. Even if she did, she couldn’t have known which trash compactor, since (according to Star Wars: Complete Locations), the garbage chute had an automatic sorting system that decided to place Leia, Luke, and Han into the recyclables bin.

Of course, given how many things were sitting in there uncompacted, it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to suppose that the trash compactor wouldn’t necessarily activate while they were in there; regardless, the risk was presumably greater than certain death at the hands of stormtroopers.

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