2

Hyperspace travel seems to be cheap and easy in Star Wars. They move large ships, lots of cargo, even entire planets across the galaxy. A ship coming out of hyperspace can have any speed. We often see that they have no difficulty matching the speed of the spaceship to the orbital velocity of the nearest planet, or to the already waiting other ships. Why don't they come out of hyperspace at high speed, release some rocks, and reenter hyperspace immediately?

A big rock, traveling as fast as a real meteorite could kill most life on a planet far more easily than the Death Star did. Other type of projectiles would be even more deadly or even less detectable. What about a dark, cold metal rod? It would be almost invisible, and if properly designed, would penetrate the crust of an Earth-like planet causing devastating volcanic eruptions and lava flows. Or a truckload of sand? It would be easier to spread and more difficult to recapture, and would reach the atmosphere and create a giant fireball.

Yet, we see none of these in any episodes of Star Wars.

We see that hyperspace travel is not possible on the surface of the planet, but we also see ships entering hyperspace just outside the atmosphere. A meteorite, real or artificial, so close cannot be deflected.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Voldemort's Wrath, Meat Trademark, Edlothiad, Alarion, Dave Johnson Aug 15 at 15:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • Hi, welcome to SF&F. Are you limiting this question to Star Wars canon, or would you include legends? You should clarify that. In legends, Thrawn used cloaked masses to create a kinetic anti-ship blockade, just to give one example. – DavidW Jul 31 at 2:05
  • " A ship coming out of hyperspace can have any speed. "? – Adamant Jul 31 at 2:06
  • 1
    This is a weird, random hypothetical. I’ve voted to close it as primarily opinion-based. – Stormblessed Jul 31 at 2:51
  • 4
    @Stormblessed It's not a weird or random hypothetical. The tactic is used in the books of The Expanse, which depicts more realistic space combat than Star Wars. And Episode VIII's introduction of hyperspace ramming makes the tactic infinitely more powerful, which raises the question why no one has thought to use it before. Why spend trillions building a Death Star when you can destroy a planet by simply hurling some asteroids at it? I've re-opened this as it is possible to provide an in-universe factual answer (e.g. "no one thought of it" or "it's not feasible because X"). – Null Jul 31 at 5:28
  • 1
    In Star Wars ships do not come at any speed from hyperspace . Episode VIII is a massive plot hole threatening to extinguish whole SW universe, it is not very wise to use it as a justification for anything . In fact, most fans choose to simply ignore events in sequels . – rs.29 Aug 1 at 7:29
6

Well, for one thing, planetary-based particle shields would defend against many such attacks. Shields similar to the one surrounding Scarif in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were capable of deflecting anything from a shot from a laser cannon to a capital ship's turbolaser batteries, and as seen in the movie, torpedo attacks and even an X-wing starfighter slamming into the surface had next to zero effect on its integrity. Smaller meteoroids/meteorites would probably break apart and bounce off the shield, partially vaporized.

Now, that's not to say that mass-driver technology like modern real-world railguns and gauss cannons isn't used in Star Wars; in fact, it is and it's seen onscreen with the cannons mounted atop the Grand Army of the Republic's All-Terrain Tactical Enforcer walkers in Episodes II and III. In the Legends/EU continuity, other forms of mass-driver weaponry existed, too.

There was also an instance in Legends of an Imperial superweapon called the Galaxy Gun, which was an immense mass-driver weapon that launched a huge missile through hyperspace towards a target; the missile would exit hyperspace near enough to a planet for its own propulsion system to activate, sending the missile into the planet's surface and detonating a warhead that basically set off nuclear explosions throughout the world's atmosphere until the planet cracked and disintegrated in a massive explosion.

The simplest explanation for why your suggestion of meteorite weapons wasn't used, I'll frame in the form of a question: Why would you use it? If your goal is to cause an Extinction Level Event on a planet, why go through the hassle of hyperspace and dragging an asteroid when you have massive vessels hundreds of meters long with directed-energy and smaller ballistic weapons that can target with precision a base, a city, even a nation, and effectively turn it into a smoking crater? A single Imperial-class Stardestroyer had enough firepower to turn a continent's surface into an uninhabitable wasteland, a squadron of them could obliterate all life on a planet if so inclined.

However, there's no reason to suspect that the Empire wasn't researching that very concept. The Tarkin Initiative, the thinktank behind the Death Star's final designs and construction, is said to have had several other projects in varying stages of development in Rogue One, and so it's a logical possibility that a regime that created the Death Star (and in Legends created many more planet-killing superweapons that rivaled the canon Starkiller Base in terms of destructive power) wasn't looking into other new and exciting ways to destroy planets.

  • 2
    " If your goal is to cause an Extinction Level Event on a planet, why go through the hassle of hyperspace and dragging an asteroid when you have massive vessels hundreds of meters long with directed-energy and smaller ballistic weapons that can target with precision a base, a city, even a nation, and effectively turn it into a smoking crater?" An asteroid with a hyperdrive strapped to it is a lot less hassle than "massive vessels", especially when some of those vessels cost trillions to develop (e.g. the Death Star). – Null Jul 31 at 5:32
  • An asteroid with a hyperdrive might be cheaper, but the OP's question involved dragging or releasing an asteroid from a ship, either from its cargo hold or, as I interpreted it, from being dragged behind it via tractor beam. It wouldn't necessarily make it more effective than a Star Destroyer and it would also only have a single purpose, that is, to smash into a planet. One of those massive vessels or battle stations would simply have more function for a variety of tasks and requirements, from a practical standpoint. – SpaceWolf1701 Jul 31 at 12:26
  • I guarantee you that the R&D costs to develop the technology to carry or drag an asteroid behind a ship while in hyperspace is orders of magnitude less than the R&D costs to design a superlaser capable of destroying a planet and a massive station to house all the personnel to operate and defend that station. The operational costs would be significantly lower, too: a single droid could operate the hyperdrive guiding the asteroid whereas even a Star Destroyer requires a crew of hundreds. – Null Jul 31 at 14:19
  • Star Destroyers are useful as mobile platforms for space combat and a variety of tasks but if your objective is to simply kill all life on a planet then a fast-moving asteroid is cheaper, faster, and more thorough. – Null Jul 31 at 14:20
  • I'll grant you that, but there's also the very first part of my answer as to why it wouldn't be practical: Planetary shield systems, as well as planetary-based gun platforms. There was a turbolaser system in Legends whose aperture was several time the size of an X-wing; I imagine such a weapon could easily shatter an asteroid into a billion harmless fragments. I'd also say that the Empire as a whole wasn't really into the planet-killing thing. The Death Star was widely derided among the Navy and I recall that at least a few Imperials were appalled by the destruction of Alderaan. – SpaceWolf1701 Jul 31 at 14:32
1

Namely because hyperspace turns you immaterial. In TFA they bypassed the shield via hyperspace and it's swell to suggest that when ships worry about gravity wells, they worry more about their ship suddenly existing again than damaging the well itself. Its the same reason hyperspace ramming ships is hit or miss. You have to be RIGHT on target and hit the thing before you hit lightspeed.

  • I can't remember ever seeing anything about that was how that working in TLJ, do you have any evidence that you could edit in to back this up? – TheLethalCarrot Aug 5 at 17:12
  • It would cost much less in R&D (and take much less time) to build technology that could precisely set the time to enter/exit hyperspace so that an asteroid slammed into a planet at relativistic speed than to design a Death Star with all its component systems to do the same job. – Null Aug 5 at 19:20

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.