I realize there are questions focusing on how gravity works on the Death Star as well as moderate sized spacecraft like the Millennium Falcon—where you can stand up and walk around them—in the Star Wars universe. But why does gravity exist inside of small scale vehicles like X-Wing fighters and T.I.E. fighters in the Star Wars universe?

I mean, in small scale craft one or two people are strapped in and sitting within a cockpit of the craft as they fly around. So gravity doesn’t seem to be necessary in cases like that. And in the case T.I.E. fighters, it seems it’s well known they do not have shields or hyperdrive… But somehow they have gravity systems?

Is it because gravity systems in the Star Wars universe are so cheap and easy to implement they are essentially like as commonplace as lightbulbs compared to other things—like shields and hyperdrive—that seem to be harder to setup, manage and implement?

Please provide citations—expanded universe, canon, “Legends” and such—to put it all in proper context.

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    What evidence is there that it does? As you say, everyone is generally strapped down, so it'd be hard to tell the difference for the most part...
    – Micah
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 21:27
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    "Don't have small bits of loose stuff that can float around in your rapidly accelerating spaceship" sounds like a pretty sensible plan to me. (This is sort of like RichS's comment, except that there's a range of accelerations which is safe for humans as long as everything is strapped down, and it's not clear to me that the small fighters exceed it.)
    – Micah
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 22:02
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    It's partly for the same reason they bank in the vacuum of space (and explosions go boom! there - that is, scriptwriters ignorant of basic science, and audiences who don't care. Probably also because it's difficult for the special effects crew to simulate zero-g.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:31
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    @JakeGould, not so fast. Can you prove that physics in the universe is location-invariant and time-invariant? We are taking about a long, long ago far, far away time and place. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 12:38
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    There is a scene at the end of ESB in which the frozen body of Han Solo is carried to the bounty hunter's ship. The encasing, of the size of a mattress, floats and the guys simply push it. Another example of artificial gravity is Luke's speeder from Episode IV. Then, there are the chase scenes from ROTJ. I would not mention the examples from the prequels, except for the chase scene in which Anakin rides the speeder to catch something. All those relatively modest devices had some form of artificial gravity. It looks like in SW universe, artificial gravity is a trivial technology.
    – user56635
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 14:35

2 Answers 2


Because if such ships did not have artificial gravity or inertial compensators, the occupant would be reduced to chunky salsa every time the ship sped up, slowed down, or rounded a curve.

This website says Yavin is 198,000 kilometers across. So going around it from the rebel base on its moon will take several minutes. This video snippet says after the X-Wings left, the Death Star will be firing range in 15 minutes.

So let’s assume the X-Wing took 3 minutes to get there after take off. Let's also assume it had to go around 240,000 km instead of just 198,000 km to reach the Death Star since we need to include both the moon's distance from Yavin and the Death Star’s distance. That means the X-Wing would probably have to go faster than 1333 km/s average speed. Which means an X-Wing fighter must accelerate to faster than 1333 km/s in just seconds.

Accelerating from a near stop to 1333 km/s is not like those cars back on Earth that go from zero to 60 mph in 10 seconds.

Without inertial compensators, Luke would have been crushed by g-forces. R2-D2 might have survived. I am trying to imagine R2-D2 leading several other astromech droids in an the assault on the Death Star after all the pilots died.

This image (below) from the Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Incredible Cross-Sections book shows what acceleration compensators look like and the important safety purpose they provide.

Bottom line: Every ship—no matter how small—needs inertial compensators to protect the crew from death.

An image of a gravity controlling device on a “Star Wars” starship.

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    @user21820 What? That can't be. In order to average a speed of $x$ from a standing start and stop, you must exceed $x$ during your journey. The lowest-G way to travel is to constantly accelerate s.t. at midpoint you reach $2x$ (maximum) speed, then start decelerating at the same rate you accelerated so as to ease to a stop at the destination. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 4:30
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    @user21820: If you linearly accelerate until the midway point and linearly decelerate thereafter, then you'll reach your average speed in one quarter of the total time of the journey. If the total journey is 3 minutes (as this answer suggests), then one-quarter of the time is 45 seconds, which I think can validly be characterized as "just seconds".
    – ruakh
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 4:30
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    @IwillnotexistIdonotexist: Did you even read my comment? Does "halfway" not mean that past that point you will exceed $x$?
    – user21820
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 5:48
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    @user21820: And what "invalid logic and mathematics" would that be? As far as I can tell, your objection can only be that 45 seconds is too long to count as "just seconds"; but if so, then I don't know how you decided that.
    – ruakh
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 7:41
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    The problem with this kind of calculation is that, when X-Wings are actually on screen, they seem to fly more or less like ordinary fighter planes and not like things capable of pulling thousands of gees. Obviously the real reason for this is that no Star Wars writer ever actually does the math, but if we're coming up with a plausible in-universe reason I'd prefer "there was a brief offscreen hyperjump" or even "planets in the Star Wars universe are somehow a lot smaller than real planets" to "X-Wings can accelerate really well, but only if we're not looking at them."
    – Micah
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 18:07

For manned craft that travel at the speeds involved in Star Wars, artificial gravity is a necessity.

Small changes in direction would produce forces that would pulverize a human pilot. So if you want to have fast-moving one-man fighters in a science fiction setting, they need to have artificial gravity to cancel out the accelerational effects.

From the movies, there is evidence that artificial gravity is ubiquitous. Moreover, it can be used to do more than just give a ship a uniform “down” direction.

On the Millennium Falcon—for example—the artificial gravity does not point in the same direction everywhere. In the pods from which the laser turrets are controlled, the gravity is oriented at a ninety degree angle relative to the rest of the ship.


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