- "We'll be sent to the spice mines of Kessel or smashed into who knows what!"
Kessel was a planet within the Akkadese Maelstrom that hosted spice mines. The planet also exported coaxium and Kesselstone. While Kessel's northern hemisphere was devoted to mining, the planet's southern hemisphere was home to lush sanctuaries. During the Imperial Era, the Galactic Empire and Pyke Syndicate ran several mining operations that employed slave labor. These slave mining operations were targeted by various underworld and rebel factions.
- "I've heard pilots talk about this place. It's legendary."
"Yeah. It's legendary for its corruption."
- ―Trace Martez and Ahsoka Tano
The planet Kessel was located within the Akkadese Maelstrom in the Kessel sector of the Outer Rim Territories. Much of the planet's northern hemisphere was devoted to mining spice, coaxium, and Kesselstone. While much of Kessel's surface was devoted to mining said minerals, Kessel's southern hemisphere was home to lush sanctuaries. The world had a hot and humid climate and was a hotbed of life.
Theories suggest that the source of spice within Kessel is the turbulent area of space that surrounds the planet. Over eons, debris from churning singularities of the Maw Cluster and surrounding Akkadese Maelstrom accumulated into the planetary mass. This mineral-rich world produced a vibrant ecology with enormous forests.
Kessel was a key world in the spice trade, with slavery being used in the production of goods. During the Clone Wars, Kessel was ruled by King Yaruba of the Yaruba Family of Kessel. At one point, Yaruba's majordomo, Kinash Lock, while acting on behalf of the king, negotiated a deal with Rafa Martez to transport spice to Marg Krim of the Pyke Syndicate on Oba Diah.
For years, the Pykes dealt with spice mined from Kessel, using smugglers and freighter captains to deliver it to the crime families of Coruscant. The Galactic Empire also operated a mining operation, employing numerous slaves, including Wookiees, to harvest spice. Meanwhile, the Yaruba Family of Kessel lived in lush sanctuaries in the planet's southern hemisphere, turning a blind eye to the brutal working conditions in the mines of the northern hemisphere.
In 10 BBY, the Pyke Syndicate Capo Quay Tolsite operated a coaxium mine on the planet which was manned by slave laborers. During a mission to obtain coaxium for the Crimson Dawn crime lord Dryden Vos, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Qi'ra, and the droid L3-37 freed the slave miners and droids from the Pyke Syndicate. They then escaped into the Akkadese Maelstrom aboard the smuggler and gambler Lando Calrissian's freighter, the Millennium Falcon.
Being pursued through space by Imperial TIE fighters and TIE heavy starfighters, Solo flew the Falcon through the dangerous Maw Cluster. Despite being attacked by a Summa-verminoth, Han Solo and his crew managed to complete the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs.
In 5 BBY, the Spectres rescued several Wookiee prisoners from Spice mine K76. During the mission, the former Jedi Padawan Kanan Jarrus identified himself as a Jedi by igniting his lightsaber, bringing himself to the attention of the Grand Inquisitor.
When the Empire boarded the starship Tantive IV, which carried Princess Leia Organa on a secret mission for the Rebel Alliance, the protocol droid named C-3PO expressed fear that he and his counterpart, R2-D2, would be sent to the spice mines of Kessel.
After the collapse of the Empire in 5 ABY, Kessel's lucrative spice trade was left in the state of complete disarray. Without the guiding hands of Imperial officias or Mining Guild protection, competition for Kessel spice became a bloody free-for-all. It was deemed to be unsafe to operate on processing termini like Formos and Oba Diah, leading to the eventual rise of the pirate gang known as the Spice Runners of Kijimi.
Behind the scenes
- "I've talked about this before, but the split Kessel design -- one side beautiful, one side blighted -- had been kicking around since at least 2009, and preserving the notion in any new storytelling seemed important since it came from how George Lucas envisioned the planet."
- ―Pablo Hidalgo
The planet Kessel was first mentioned in the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Its first canonical appearance was in Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, the premiere of the animated television series Star Wars Rebels. The series used designs and concepts created for Kessel by Star Wars creator George Lucas, who developed its appearance, culture, and economy.
Kessel was seen for the first time in the movie premiere of Star Wars Rebels, where the planet is shown with no cloud surrounding it. In Solo: A Star Wars Story, which takes place before Rebels, the infamous Kessel Run is shown to be the only entrance to Kessel through a cloud surrounding the mining planet. Pablo Hidalgo later revealed the canon depiction of Kessel, where one side is lush and prosperous at the expense of the other side of the world, came from George Lucas himself around 2009. In the Star Wars: The Clone Wars episode "Deal No Deal," Kessel appeared as it had been shown in Solo, as well as marking the first appearance of Kessel's "royal" side. Previously stories like Solo that had only shown the industrial side of Kessel had needed to balance depicting the world while also keeping the lush hemisphere out of shot, thus preserving the reveal of the full planet.
Notes and references
- Ultimate Star Wars
- Star Wars: The Galactic Explorer's Guide
- The Mandalorian – "Chapter 12: The Siege"
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Beginner Game
- Star Wars: Smuggler's Guide
- Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
- Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Deal No Deal"
- Solo: A Star Wars Story: Tales from Vandor
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Solo: A Star Wars Story The Official Guide
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas places the events of Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, which depicts the mission to free Wookiee prisoners, in 5 BBY.
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Poe Dameron: Free Fall