The T-65 model X-Wing uses an astromech droid — such as R2-D2 — to handle miscellaneous tasks required to pilot an X-Wing: Tasks like navigation, small repairs, assist in piloting and such. Astromech droids are used in similar ways for other small craft such as the N-1 Starfighter or Jedi Starfighter shown in the prequels where they mount themselves from the bottom of the craft.

But this question is specifically about the T-65 model X-Wing where there is simply not enough clearance beneath the X-Wing’s fuselage for an astromech droid to roll underneath and mount themselves.

How exactly do astromech droids — such as R2-D2 — get into that droid hole in the back of the X-Wing to begin with?

For example, this is what I know about R2-D2 and X-Wings as seen in the original trilogy:

Star Wars (1977)

  • Yavin (Rebel Base): We see R2-D2 being lifted into the X-Wing fighter by some kind of lifting device; clearly needs help in that instance. And when Luke comes back to Yavin after blowing up the Death Star R2-D2 is effectively disabled in the battle so he has to be pulled out again by that lifter thing.

The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

  • Hoth (Rebel Base): During the Rebel evacuation of Hoth, we see R2-D2 is already in the cockpit of Luke’s X-Wing fighter waiting for Luke to return. So one can assume he was put back in the droid hole by some lifter in the Rebel base on Hoth.
  • Dagobah (Yoda’s Front Yard): After Luke crash lands his X-Wing into a swamp on Dagobah, R2-D2 gets out of the X-Wing — via some elevator device that pushes him back out — but then falls into the swamp after the ship jostles just a little bit. Then when Luke leaves Dagobah later on, how did R2-D2 get back into the X-Wing?
  • Bespin (Cloud City): We see Luke arrive with R2-D2 following right behind him. Assuming Luke landed on one of those Cloud City landing platforms, I can’t imagine there was some astromech droid lifting apparatus. How did R2-D2 get out?

Return of the Jedi (1983)

  • Tatooine (Jabba’s Palace): The droids show up at Jabba’s Palace alone at the beginning of the film. But later on it’s clear that Luke arrived in his X-Wing. So how did R2-D2 get out — and get back into — the X-Wing while parked in the desert?
  • Dagobah (Yoda’s Front Yard): Luke clearly lands safely here and leaves just as safely. R2-D2 is out of his droid hole and back in as well… How?

That said, under normal circumstances — for any X-Wing fighter; not just Luke’s — how does an astromech droid safely get out of an X-Wing get back into that droid hole?

The warranty expired on R2-D2’s rocket jets/boosters by the time of the Galactic Civil War so they could not be used in the original trilogy films.

FWIW, I fully realize that R2-D2 is shown using rocket jets/boosters to fly around in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (2002); something that droid has never done in any of the Star Wars films before. But as this other question/answer thread explains, R2-D2’s jets/boosters stopped working — and the warranty expired on them — by the time the events of the original trilogy happened so they could no longer be used:

“Rescinding previous consumer documentation that guaranteed a ‘lifetime’ of reliability in their after-market astromech hover rockets, Industrial Automaton has now capped the warranty at 20 standard years. This decision affects all optional R2, R3 and R4-adapted leg-bracket and barrel-housed propellant rocket systems. IA is instead recommending feature swap outs after 20 years, regardless of actual logged hours of operation.”

Additionally, this bit of trivia on R2-D2’s operational state is official canon as well; bold emphasis is mine:

“However, by the time of the Galactic Civil War, R2-D2’s boosters had not worked in ages, and his warranty was long expired.”

So rocket jets/boosters can be ruled out… Unless there are non-movie references to them being used by astromech droids to get into and out of an X-Wing out there?

For reference, these pics…

Here is R2-D2 being lifted into the droid hole of Luke’s X-Wing fighter.

R2-D2 being lifted into the droid hole of Luke’s X-Wing fighter.

And in this picture, R2-D2 lifts himself out of the droid hole after Luke crash lands on Dagobah.

R2-D2 lifts himself out of the droid hole after Luke crash lands on Dagobah.

Looking for in-universe, canonical explanations; not armchair speculation and theories. If none (currently) exist, legends explanation would suffice. Regardless, please provide references and context.

  • 1
    Using elevator and boosters.
    – Oni
    Dec 21, 2020 at 21:35
  • In your latter picture, Artoo is being elevated by a small platform in the astromech socket (in-universe it appears to be operated by a pair of hydraulic pistons based on the X-wing cross section). But how he'd get in there on his own without boosters or a crane hasn't really been addressed IIRC unless there's something that specifically refers to Luke and/or Yoda using the Force to lift him up. The only instance I can recall is the Naboo N-1 starfighter where Artoo enters/exits through the bottom of the craft with the help of some onboard arms or claws. Dec 21, 2020 at 23:09
  • 1
    It might help to catalog the situations where R2 needed to enter or exit an X-Wing at a location that wouldn’t have what I’m going to call a “droid crane”. As far as I recall, dagobah is it. After that is Bespin, which he leaves aboard the Falcon. Then it’s fleet stuff until dagobah again in RTJ and then fleet again. Perhaps the force or lifting slowly and carefully by hand is what is done on dagobah Dec 21, 2020 at 23:56
  • I seem to recall a scene from the prequels where he's inserted into a ship from the bottom. But I really don't want to watch the prequels again to try and find that clip. (Yes I know you were talking about the original series, but this would establish that there were canonically other means of inserting an astromech into a ship that would have existed at that time.) Dec 22, 2020 at 17:17
  • 1
    "Use the Force, Luke!"
    – Mark
    Dec 23, 2020 at 5:37

4 Answers 4


Presumably, whenever possible, a droid will be lifted into place the way R2-D2 is shown being inserted in A New Hope. However, The Empire Strikes Back does show evidence of what appears to be a backup mechanism. When R2-D2 has to be reseated for the departure from Dagobah, it can be seen that he is attached to his compartment by a cable. The cable is clearly visible at 0:10 in the clip below and the still.

With guidance from the pilot, this cable could presumably also be used to winch the droid up onto the top of the X-Wing.

R2-D2 on top of Luke’s X-Wing with some kind of cable attached to him.

  • 7
    Nice catch! A manual winch for when you’re out in the boonies! Dec 22, 2020 at 1:31
  • 2
    @IanKemp - They use liquid cable for those sorts of things. It's incredibly strong, apparently.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2020 at 16:00
  • 4
    Are you sure that isn't one of R2's many maintenance tools?
    – Harabeck
    Dec 22, 2020 at 17:23
  • 1
    @IanKemp: Are you just talking about winching a droid? Even just 1/4" cable (6mm) has a breaking strength of around 6000 lbs (~3000N) to 8 ton(ne)s. I doubt droids weigh more than several cars. Example reference Dec 22, 2020 at 18:59
  • 2
    @Giacomo1968: Which would put them in the range where, in a hurry, a single strong pilot (or a couple of folks working together) could conceivably carry them up their directly, skipping even the winch, no Force needed. Especially if the unit has some sort of convenient handle to grip them by. Dec 23, 2020 at 13:37

While I'm not aware of any cases where R2-D2 has been seen exiting an X-Wing in the current canon, Book One of the so-called 'Thrawn Trilogy', Heir to the Empire has Luke revisiting Dagobah in chapter 10 and using the Force to lift R2-D2 down to ground level after the droid exited the socket on his own.

Most likely Luke could have done the same following his training under Yoda considering he was able to levitate Threepio and the chair he was sitting in in Return of the Jedi.


R2-D2 has rocket boosters.

R2-D2 has retractable rocket boosters built into his legs. While he's never explicitly shown using them in the original trilogy, we see him using them in a fight with some battle droids in the prequels.

While he's only shown using them to hover and light his enemies on fire in that sequence, it's entirely possible that his manufacturer's intended use for them would be to use them to launch himself up and into the astromech droid socket of a fighter, when lifting devices weren't available.

  • 2
    Indeed. Notably R2 is an old droid whose lifters don't work (hence the need for a crane). On a newer model they'd be far more likely to work propoerly.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2020 at 11:06
  • 4
    @Giacomo1968 - It's expressly stated in Star Wars that R2-D2 is an older model - CHIEF: This R2 unit of your seems a bit beat up. Do you want a new one? LUKE: Not on your life! That little droid and I have been through a lot together. So this answer at least tells us how a normal R2 unit might ascend.
    – Valorum
    Dec 22, 2020 at 16:04
  • 1
    @Giacomo1968 That feels very heavily like a retcon to explain why they aren't seen in the OT.
    – Davidw
    Dec 22, 2020 at 22:43

They can't except in the case of Luke Skywalker (or any Jedi) because for non Jedi/force users they use a crane that attaches to the droid and lifts it into the x wing but force users just use the force to lift the droids out

  • This doesn't appear to offer any information that isn't already in the answers above. Can you back this up with any evidence?
    – Valorum
    Dec 26, 2020 at 9:12
  • I am 100% i have seen it in some canon show or movie and SPOILERS FOR THE MANDALORIAN S:2 E:8 when luke flies his x-wing into the hanger within seconds we see him killing dark troopers and every other time we see droids getting loaded into other x-wings they get lifted out with a crane type thing and (not including driving the crane other to the x-wing) it takes about 20 seconds to hook it up and pull it out so how else could Luke (the force user ) get r2-d2 out of the x-wing . we do also see other times were this can happen like with rey and bb-8 but i dont feel like righting about that. Jan 1, 2021 at 10:29

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