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At the beginning of Star Wars: A New Hope, we see the Rebel Blockade Runner with Princess Leia and the Droids being pursued by a Star Destroyer above the planet Tatooine. Practically directly above it, close enough that it could almost be in orbit.

It seems an incredibly strange coincidence that they should run so close to a planet that just happens to play host to Darth Vader's estranged son and former mentor before his turn to the Dark Side. Moreso that they'd fly so close to any planet at all, when space is so vast and empty.

What reason did the Rebel Blockade Runner have for being so close to Tatooine during this chase?

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This is not a coincidence at all.

Princess Leia was travelling to Tatooine to meet Obi-Wan Kenobi and ask him to help the Rebel Alliance. When her ship is intercepted, she has to improvise, so she sends R2-D2 to the planet's surface with a message for Obi-Wan:

General Kenobi. Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars. Now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to present my father's request to you in person, but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to bring you to Alderaan has failed.

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    It would be an interesting to speculate what would happen if the she hadn't come under attack. Would she have left with Kenobi and Luke would remain a farmer? – joshbirk Jun 23 '14 at 17:57
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    @joshbirk considering Obi-Wan obviously knew who Luke was, I highly doubt he would have left Luke on Tatooine to play farmer. – psubsee2003 Jun 24 '14 at 0:16
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    @psubsee2003 - but we don't know what Leia was going to ask him. If Kenobi thought it was safer to leave Luke on Tatooine, he might have - and a trip to Alderaan to see Bail might not warrant blowing the whole "your father was a Jedi Knight" thing. Remember that at the start of ANH - Luke and Obi-Wan are only barely acquainted with one another. "Ben" blows his cover only because of mortal danger. – joshbirk Jun 24 '14 at 0:45
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    @joshbirk: Yes. Also, Obi-Wan had not seen Leia since she was an infant. Upon meeting her, he might have decided she was much better Jedi material than Luke and decided to train her instead. (Let's face it, Luke is a whiny brat, like his father before him.) For all we know, that was the point of sending her to Tatooine in the first place. – Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 24 '14 at 8:30
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    Suppose Leia's orbiting ship is captured by the Imperials while she is on Tatooine, so she and Kenobi hire Han to take them to Alderaan? But this is heading into fan fiction which doesn't really belong in Q&A comments. ;-) – Royal Canadian Bandit Jun 24 '14 at 13:42
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This is addressed directly in the new (canon) Star Wars novelisation. Simply put, Leia's mission had two parts. Firstly, to collect the plans for the Death Star and secondly, to collect Obi-Wan Kenobi from his hiding place on Tatooine.

Admitting she failed made the words taste bitter in her mouth. Though she and the crew of the Tantive IV had downloaded the information and made the jump to Tatooine, she wouldn’t be able to complete the second part of the mission. Her father had requested that she seek out an old friend, one General Kenobi, because, in his own words, “a war demanded warriors” to fight. A legendary Jedi Knight, Kenobi had gone into secret exile on the remote desert planet to avoid the deadly purge that had wiped out his order.

A New Hope: The Princess, the Scoundrel, and the Farm Boy

This would obviously explain her proximity to the planet.

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