At the end of Rogue One, Darth Vader and two stormtroopers watch Tantive IV leave the Profundity. It looks like they are outside the airlock, but his cape is fluttering as if there is a stiff breeze pushing it back.

If he is exposed to the vacuum of space, then why is his cape fluttering? I was first tempted to say exhaust from Tantive IV, but that ship is too far away to explain the cape fluttering at the end of the scene.

Notice that the cape is blown back, not forward. If air was rushing out of the ship toward space, the cape would be blown to Vader's front. It is pushed back instead as if a strong breeze was blowing it.

Is he inside a force field within an airlock and the Profundity is refilling the airlock with air at such a high rate that it causes his cape to flutter in the wind?

Is this mentioned in the official novelization?

I already checked Mythbusters on this one. A flag in a vacuum moves when its rod is twisted, but it does not flap the same way it would in airflow.

No way would Vader's cape flap like that in a vacuum. It just doesn't move the same way as the US flag did on the moon. Something must be causing air flow.

  • 5
    Force fields and air conditioning?
    – Adamant
    Jan 2, 2017 at 22:20
  • 9
    Because it looks awesome.
    – Valorum
    Jan 2, 2017 at 22:21
  • 12
    Vader showing off his use of the Force?
    – RichS
    Jan 2, 2017 at 22:31
  • 3
    The ships are low enough that they're in the atmosphere. (The ship appears to be in "geostationary" orbit which just means over a fixed point, but apparently using repulsors or something to maintain orbit, since it's too low to be in geosynchronous orbit.) I conjecture that it's low enough that he's feeling a light breeze. Jan 2, 2017 at 23:59
  • 5
    He's having a truly massive fart.
    – Tim
    Jan 6, 2017 at 2:03

2 Answers 2


If he's still in the airlock's atmosphere, then there's air and there's no reason there wouldn't be air currents.

If he's not still in atmosphere, then there's no air or gravity to stop the cape from moving. Vader was just moving pretty quickly. The cape has inertia. It is going to flutter about a bit, much like in the video you included in the question. Additionally, Vader's cape does not have a straight bar on two sides holding it in place.

  • 1
    In that case, you have a different definition of atmosphere than me. I would not call the air within a spaceship as "atmosphere". When I think of atmospheres, I think of the layer of air surrounding a planet. At least we both agree that it is ridiculous to say Vader was within the planetary atmosphere.
    – RichS
    Jan 5, 2017 at 2:15
  • 3
    @RichS It's an additional definition, rather than a different one. Atmosphere can refer to any pocket of air, not just one around a planet. Check definition 2 on MW: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atmosphere You can find similar definitions at pretty much any dictionary. Thanks for pointing out a possible ambiguity. I'll keep that in mind in the future.
    – DCShannon
    Jan 5, 2017 at 2:17
  • 1
    I see what you meant with definition 2, but I would use that definition to mean something like, "The atmosphere around the city dump stinks!" To me, the air within a spaceship is "air supply". Having grown up in a naval family, and having several friends who worked on submarines, I heard them talk about air supply, not atmosphere. It's not that big a leap for me to go from air supply for a contained vessel underwater to air supply for a contained vessel out in space.
    – RichS
    Jan 5, 2017 at 2:27
  • 2
    @RichS, this is not an unusual usage. A simple search for Star Trek transcripts and the phrase venting atmosphere yields no fewer than four episodes of Enterprise, six episodes of Atlantis, and one episode of SG-1 containing that phrase. And that's only the phrase with venting because I don't want to sift through all the ambiguities. Jun 20, 2017 at 4:13
  • 1
    @RichS, hey, I'm not in this debate. I'm just saying it's not unusual to refer to the air in a spacecraft as atmosphere. Jun 20, 2017 at 5:45

The bottom bay of the Cruiser is sealed with a magnetic force field.

How do the Death Stars retain atmosphere in the landing bays?

While Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers may have longer exposure tolerance to vacuum, they would not just standing around in it. Certainly not with an open airlock behind them from which air would be sucked out to the vacuum, likely pulling Vader and the others out with it.

Princess Leia Organa traveled onboard the Tantive IV during the Battle of Scarif. Towards the end of the battle, the Tantive IV was docked inside the crippled Rebel flagship Profundity, and barely managed to launch and escape the battle with the stolen schematics of the Death Star before Darth Vader could board it to recover them. Unofficial Fandom Article on the Tantive IV Corvette

Instead, the air within the docking bay was just recently disturbed by the departing Corvette. Thus the violent air movement.

That, and it looks bad-ass.

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