I just watched Elysium and it got me wondering - in the exhaustive Star Wars canon, has there ever been a Stanford torus-like structure? (And don't say the Death Star)
Unlikely. Does this mean the Stanford Torus was NEVER used in the Star Wars universe? That is a different question. But my reasoning is based upon the fact we are never in a time in the Star Wars canon, even in the Expanded Universe that does not have artificial gravity, indicating a level of technological and scientific sophistication far greater than any current Earth engineering is capable of.
I know that might seem to be a strange approach to answering the question, but bear with me. Having reviewed the multitude of specific space stations designs listed in canon works and comic depictions on Wookiepedia, none of these designs even closely resemble the Stanford Torus. Once I started looking into the designs I realized why.
The Stanford Torus design is created the way it is because it is required to spin in order to generate gravity (via centrifugal force).
Its design is predicated on using mirrors for energy and lighting, meaning the capacity to lift a respectable power supply into orbit may be in doubt or that the power supply would have to be lifted into orbit in small pieces and later rebuilt once in space.
"Stanford torus" refers only to this particular version of the design, as the concept of a ring-shaped rotating space station was previously proposed by Wernher von Braun5 and Herman Potočnik.
It consists of a torus, or doughnut-shaped ring, that is 1.8 km in diameter (for the proposed 10,000 person habitat described in the 1975 Summer Study) and rotates once per minute to provide between 0.9g and 1.0g of artificial gravity on the inside of the outer ring via centrifugal force.
The tech level in the Galactic Republic even in its earliest depictions is far more capable than almost anything we can do on current Earth even if the political will to put a Stanford Torus in orbit existed.
The Galactic Republic is a very old Empire in comparison to most seen in science fiction, having existed for at least 25,000 years or more. Such a long existence gives time and opportunity to develop a wide array of technological developments and designs like the Torus are simply too unsophisticated to be used, even on the most primitive of planets under Empire rule.
The Galactic Republic was capable of terraforming planets, capable of using artificial gravity, even on relatively small craft like the Millenium Falcon, and able to store power at levels modern humans would do anything to possess. The power-cell of a lightsaber would be worth a fortune on Earth today.
The Galactic Republic was the ruling government of the galaxy that existed for more than 25 thousand years, until the establishment of the first Galactic Empire in 19 BBY. Throughout its existence, the state was commonly known as the Republic. In the post-Republic era and beyond, it was remembered as the Old Republic; it was also rarely known as the First Galactic Republic. At times, the term Old Order was used to describe the Republic.
- Even in the time of the early Galactic Republic, the ability to build shipyards capable of surrounding an entire planet, a scale of design dwarfing the primitive Stanford Torus. One of the earliest and still operational facilities showing the scale of the early Republic's space station engineering capabilities was the Kuat Drive Yards.
Kuat Drive Yards was founded in the early days of the Galactic Republic by a group of human aristocrats known as the Ten. These merchants, led by the Kuat family, joined together with the intent to create the largest, most efficient shipyard in the galaxy. They hired terraformers to change the planet Kuat into a paradise world while engineers designed and built the first six of many orbital shipyard complexes.
The actual Kuat Drive Yards were a collection of various facilities throughout the Kuat System. The primary shipyards made up a nearly solid ring, called the Orbital Array, that surrounded the planet Kuat itself.
These stations were split into smaller units, designated as slipways, offices, machine shops, factories, drydocks, or apartments for workers. Most Kuati citizens lived within this ring, never setting foot on the surface of the planet below.
The orbital array was lightly armed, sufficient to deal with pirates or small warships, though anything above a frigate was beyond the capabilities of the array's defenses.
Does this mean there are no old-school pre-Republic Stanford Torus' out there? No.
Only that such a design would have only remained in operation if those worlds had little or no regular traffic with the Republic or had developed their technology independent of Republic technology.
In the event of an interaction with the Republic, it is unlikely but not impossible a species would refuse to accept any of the tech the Republic was capable of producing, especially if they had been ambitious enough to be able to build a Stanford Torus in the first place!
I know that a Stanford Torus is supposed to be a doughnut-like habitat in space, something in between the ship in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Larry Niven's Ringworld.
If we're going with ships, there is the possibility of one: in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, at the very end after Han turns into a freeze-pop, Luke and Leia are left in a live-ship. While perhaps not a Standford Torus in definition, it is a space habitat. Also, with the needs of a military, there would need to be live-ships in a space-bound military, since any number of sailors might have families. They could be left on war-ships, or they might have live-ships that travel nearby, or a space-station for those stationed out in space. (none of this is canon, though)