In the movie The Last Jedi, why didn’t the First Order’s dreadnought ship go in reverse, or move in another direction, so it wouldn’t get hit by the falling bombs?

I don’t recall Poe taking out the dreadnought’s engines after he destroyed the ship’s guns.

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    Do Star Wars ships even have a "reverse"? Slowing down in space isn't a simple matter of shifting gears. Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 5:10
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    Flyin' a dreadnought ain't like dustin' crops, boy...
    – Valorum
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 6:13
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    They're irreversible – Like my raincoat!
    – Essen
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 9:52
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    Does "space" even have a "falling"?
    – gowenfawr
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 18:26
  • @gowenfawr Nope. Just like the ships, they were simply propelled into one direction, like shooting a cannon, only with really slow ammunition that would continue to drift into space if it missed (until it'd hit something else, of course) 😅 Commented Sep 11, 2018 at 6:49

1 Answer 1


If one looks at the design of the Dreadnought, or in fact most Star Wars spaceships, they lack (powerful) engines on the front. They only feature engines in the back, to fly forwards. So, for the Dreadnought to dodge, it would have to fly forwards, or fire one half of its engines (for example, to go right, fire the left half of the engines). If it had flown forwards, the bombs might hit the ship on the bridge, or center mass (which risks splitting the ship in two halves or cutting off hallways with fires or vacuums, effectively splitting the ship in two halves as well).

But, even if the Dreadnought could go in reverse, we have two other issues. If it was standing still, it has to lumber that massive surface into movement faster than the bombs that are being propelled towards if from above (where its surface is the greatest, together with the underside). In a zero gravity environment, it's really hard to get anything moving and once you do, trying to stop it is even harder. If the ship was already moving forwards, the engines would have to not only cancel the forward momentum, but then also get it moving backwards once more.

And even here on Earth (where we are not in a zero-gravity environment), generating momentum takes time. Imagine a car. It doesn't simply go backwards at full speed immediately, as I'm sure you've seen or experienced. Likewise, a car that is driving forwards, does that stop immediately? Of course, on Earth a car stops faster due to grip to the ground and resistances from for instance air. In space, you have no 'grip' onto anything, nor is there resistance (except from gravitational pull of bodies like planets). Starting to move in a direction from standstill is a case of increasing thrust on one side, like with an engine, resulting in movement into the opposite direction. Stopping works the same, only you increase propulsion against the durection you're moving towards. But that takes considerably more time as there's nothing to grip your weight to, or lose your momentum in.

So, if the Dreadnought would move forward, it risks losing more of its front part, either directly or effectively. If it could have moved backwards (i.e. it had strong engines on its front too), that would've taken too much time anyways. At least, too much time to not change much of the outcome we see in the movie.

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    There's also the fact that small ships in Star Wars tend to be a lot faster than the bigger ships. For example, in the same film we have Kylo Ren and a few other fighters easily make the gap between the larger ships.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 9:26
  • @TheLethalCarrot in our real world this would make sense, as the bigger the object, the stronger the thrust has to be to move it as fast as a smaller object. A smaller ship with an engine would go faster than a bigger ship with the exact same engine. But, it would also take more force to slow the bigger object back down. Additionally, making engines bigger is hard, and you're going to hit a roof on that. And you can only fit so many engines on a ship, so bigger ships should generally get slower than smaller ones Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 9:53
  • @TheLethalCarrot Great comment though, and I assume Star Wars uses this same principle, as their space has been seen to operate as ours over the movies! Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 9:55
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    Gravity doesn't really have anything to do with it. It's more difficult to get things moving on Earth because of all the friction (and likewise easier to stop things).
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 12:17
  • @OrangeDog Correct, I worded it a bit weird, trying to bring it close to home, and will reword it when I have time later today! Thanks for the notification! Commented Sep 10, 2018 at 13:47

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