In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, when Poe and the others are discussing their plan to get to Exegol, Poe says:

FINN: As long as those Star Destroyers are on Exegol we can hit them.

BEAUMONT: Hit them how?

ROSE: They can't activate their shields until they leave atmosphere.

POE: Which isn't easy on Exegol. Ships that size need help taking off. Nav can't tell which way's up out there.

WROBIE TYCE: So, how do the ships take off?

POE: They use a signal from a navigation tower, like this one.

Do the features of the planet itself (the magnetic fields, etc.) just inhibit any meaningful determination of "up"?

  • 21
    bad script writing?
    – RichS
    Jun 14, 2021 at 3:17
  • You could improve this question with quotes from the movie or links to a video snippet from the movie.
    – RichS
    Jun 14, 2021 at 3:17
  • 1
    Actually, any planet's features (e.g. gravity, or just simply being there) determine which way is "up" pretty effectively.
    – Spencer
    Jun 14, 2021 at 11:04
  • 2
    @RichS That's the answer. Attempting to make sense of out this film is an exercise in futility.
    – Null
    Jun 14, 2021 at 11:29
  • 1
    The law of Nazi FAIL: "Every overwhelming collection of Nazi forces has at least one hidden weakness that we can exploit to inflict utter defeat." Jun 14, 2021 at 12:18

1 Answer 1


Poe is exaggerating.

It's not that the ships literally can't tell what direction gravity is pointing, but rather that navigating a ship of that size through an atmosphere is difficult even in ideal conditions. Exegol's atmosphere is not ideal, either.

In addition to the ships involved being huge, it's also the case that the Sith fleet is huge in terms of numbers. Individual ships charting their own escape vectors would be chaos. There would be collisions left and right, followed by explosions, debris, and more collisions. Fleet actions need to be coordinated. This is why we have air traffic controllers in the real world to coordinate takeoffs even if there's only one plane!

Frankly, the unbelievable part of this is that there would only be one tower.

  • One justification for only one tower, of course, is that it reduces the risk of conflicting information. Of course, better design means that the ships will try to make a decision based off of all of the towers they can contact, but imagine the pinball chaos if they only used the closest, and one tower is saying "left" while the others are saying "right"...
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jun 14, 2021 at 14:48
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    @FuzzyBoots In general, if you're coordinating among multiple towers, you need a Byzantine fault tolerant system to avoid the sort of conflicting orders you're envisioning. But, most BFT implementations are meant to protect against faulty hardware, not intelligent, malicious actors.
    – Cadence
    Jun 14, 2021 at 14:56
  • Didn't part of that scene specifically involve the Sith trying to swap from the tower to the flagship as a 'mobile tower' or something when they realized what the New Republic forces were trying to do? It seemed like the ships were capable of acting as backup towers or relay stations in case of an emergency.
    – TylerH
    Jun 14, 2021 at 21:01

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