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If I have the timeline right from A New Hope:

  1. Leia's father sends her on a mission to travel to Tatooine to enlist the help of an old Jedi Knight, General Kenobi. The Rebellion needs his help! She is to bring Kenobi back to Alderaan, where her father awaits.

  2. On the way to Tatooine, Leia unexpectedly gets her hands on the detailed data plans of the Empire's new super-weapon, the Death Star. Wow! This could really help out the Rebellion, and may even be an essential piece of information for the survival of the entire Alliance!

  3. She CONTINUES to Tatooine to go enlist the help of General Kenobi, but just before she's able to land there, her ship is attacked by Imperial forces, led by Darth Vader. In a frantic, last-ditch effort, she puts the stolen data into a droid and records a message for Kenobi, telling him to get his butt to Alderaan and to make sure this R2 unit gets there with him. "My father will know how to retreive [the plans]."

...then that was an awfully risky (and unlikely) choice Leia made, to continue on to Tatooine to find an old army budy of her father's, who she may or may not even be able to find.

Why didn't Leia immediately return to her father on Alderaan to deliver those precious plans? Why risk so much to continue on her original mission to recruit Kenobi?

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    Darth Vader would've tracked her to Alderaan, she would've revealed she's the daughter of Bail and given away his involvement in the Rebellion.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 20:10
  • I've addressed the specific point of 'why not Alderaan' in my answer to the dupe question. Both planets were out for similar reasons; because they knew that the Empire was likely to be able to track them through hyperspace.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 20:18
  • So Vader was after her from the moment she obtained the plans? I always thought she and her crew were suprised when they were attacked. In fact, I thought that's why maybe she felt comfortable enough to continue on to Tatooine to pick up Kenobi, she felt they had gotten away with it.
    – dvanaria
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 20:18
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    @dvanaria - From the Rogue One novel; "The Tantive IV might jump out of the system, but it was hurt and it would be pursued. Best not to take chances.". It's not explicitly stated but the best guess would be that they hoped to get Kenobi off the surface and conduct repairs pretty quickly. The surprise element was in how fast the Empire tracked them down.
    – Valorum
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 20:21
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    Thanks for the insightful (if somewhat hostile) comments! This makes much more sense to me now. Leia obtains the plans, unexpectedly, and is immediately pursued by the Empire. Of course she wouldn't want to lead them directly to the hidden Rebel base, or to her father, for that matter. Yes, she was already on her way to recruit Kenobi, but now she (desperately) sees him as her only chance to get these stolen plans to the Rebel Alliance. I missed all of this nuance when I was kid.
    – dvanaria
    Commented Jun 2, 2018 at 21:10

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