During ANH, Han, Chewbacca, Luke, Obi-Wan and the two droids have left Tatooine aboard the Falcon just in front of the search troops (they fled under blaster blows).
At this point, the Empire know that the "two droids they are looking for" are on board the Falcon.

Did the Empire know the Falcon was going to Alderaan, right after the escape from Tatooine?

When the Falcon arrived near Alderaan, a TIE fighter attacked them, then they followed it right to the Death Star. Did they stop all the ships that went on the planet after it exploded?

Or did the empire kidnap the Falcon because he knew the droids were on board? Was the empire just "lucky" to catch the ship that contained precisely what it was looking for (the plans of the Death Star)?

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    Well, the Death Star is a military base. So they have sentries flying around. The TIE didn't attack them after all, it made a run home once it had detected them and they it to report back. Then the Empire made a cross check about the make and model and immediately realised that a YT-1300 had escaped from Tatooine with the droids they were looking for. That was enough of a coincidance to demand further investigation... And anyway the Empire is more the board first ask nicely never kind of government...
    – BMWurm
    Aug 31, 2018 at 13:57
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    Note that Tarkin picked Alderaan to leverage Leia and she told them to take the plans to Alderaan, so it's not a coincidence that the plans ended up back in the vicinity of Vader/Tarkin
    – Valorum
    Aug 31, 2018 at 13:57
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    @iammg - They didn't. They went to Alderaan to leverage Leia into giving up the rebel base. Their plan was to find out the location of the base, go to the base (where the plans would likely be heading) then blow it (and the plans) up
    – Valorum
    Aug 31, 2018 at 14:07
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    @BMWurm - It's jarring for me to see "and they would have succeeded" when it's not followed by "if it wasn't for those darn kids!" Aug 31, 2018 at 16:41
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    @BMWurm: In addition to the Death Star being a military base -- justifying regular sentries -- it had just blown up Alderaan. It would make sense after such a procedure to have TIE fighters scout the remains and investigate any surviving vessels. Which furthermore explains their actions against the Falcon. (The scene described below happens after they capture the Falcon.)
    – DrSheldon
    Sep 1, 2018 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


No, it is clear from the scene between Vader and Tarkin that they had not expected the Millennium Falcon to come back to the Alderaan system.


                      (over intercom)
                 We've captured a freighter entering 
                 the remains of the Alderaan system. 
                 It's markings match those of a ship 
                 that blasted its way out of Mos 

                 They must be trying to return the 
                 stolen plans to the princess. She 
                 may yet be of some use to us.

It is only at this point that they decide to let the princess escape, so that she will lead them to the rebel base. Had they been expecting the ship to travel to Alderaan, they would have made their plans ahead of time.


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