10

In the space battle scene, the Rebels lost 2 X-wings while attempting to enter the planetary surface. Why didn't they fly around it?

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    For the same reasons you don't simply walk around your door, when you forgot your keys. – Jörg W Mittag Feb 17 at 12:20
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    Vote to close it and reopen on April 1. – AcePL Feb 22 at 13:27
43

They can't go 'around' the shield because the shield encompasses the entire planet.

What am I looking at?” she asked, squinting at the ring. She made out the specks of starships descending through its center, but then a shimmer outside the ring’s edge caught her eye—the subtly distorting gleam of an energy field.

There’s a planetwide defensive shield with a single main entry gate,” Bodhi said. “This shuttle should be equipped with an access code that allows us through.

Rogue One: Official Novelisation

The film's 'Ultimate Visual Guide' factbook makes it abundantly clear that the shield has the same strength all the way round and is otherwise "impenetrable".

Bodhi has a working familiarity with the Scarif approach — he's flown it over a dozen times before. However, his paltry security clearance means he has never set foot beyond a landing pad, several kilometers distant from the team's ultimate objective: the Scarif Citadel. One obstacle at a time is the only way to succeed in this foolhardy mission against overwhelming odds. Bodhi's clearance codes get the shuttle past its first obstacle—an otherwise impenetrable shield barrier that envelops the entire planet, save for a high-altitude gate station.

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    Since surrounding an entire planet with a shield is much more efficient than covering a single island... – jeffronicus Feb 17 at 17:58
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    @jeffronicus - The Empire had operations all over the planet. The Spire was merely the centre of said operations. – Valorum Feb 17 at 18:05
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    @jeffronicus Of course it is. Eg. you can't dig a tunnel under the shield. – Agent_L Feb 17 at 23:22
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    Note that the shield doesn't have to cover the entire planet to be effective - it just has to cover enough of the planet to do so. Even a local shield would prevent orbital bombardment, and would also prevent most quick raids on the base itself. Although a shield that doesn't go all the way to the ground wouldn't prevent the movement of fighters, the gate overhead provides a wonderful overwatch/early warning platform, allowing you to direct your own fighters to intercept. – Clockwork-Muse Feb 18 at 4:13
  • @jeffronicus, you'll note the Empire is not noted for efficiency when it comes to doing things. – Keith Morrison Mar 1 at 15:41
10

It appears that the shield encased the entire planet. The gates were the only way in while the shield was up.

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