The Orbital Nightcloak was a siege weapon deployed by the Galactic Empire in 5 ABY. It consisted of a network of hundreds of satellites orbiting a targeted planet. When placed in orbit around a world, the satellites would prevent all sunlight from reaching the surface, creating utter darkness and eventually turning the world to solid ice, killing all life.
A single nightcloak satellite resembled an umbrella. Crowning the satellite was a dome-shaped series of electromagnetic panels that concealed a discharge system. The nightcloak was propelled by a deployment thruster fixed beneath the cooling and discharge systems while the rectangular-shaped reactor core stood over the subspace transceiver and control computer cooling. At the bottom lay the sensor array and an oval telemetry node.
The nightcloak system consisted of a network of hundreds of such satellites orbiting a planet. Each of these wreaked chaos and devastation on a planet by intercepting and distorting any waves of light and thus blocking any form of light energy whether visible, infrared, or ultraviolet from reaching the planet's surface. The captured solar energy was then used to power the Orbital Nightcloaks, making them self-sufficient.
The Orbital Nightcloak system was affected by a number of disadvantages including its wide scope and that its control systems were interdependent. Even if a handful of the satellites was destroyed or disabled, all of the remaining satellites would be deactivated.
A newer Orbital Nightcloak would allow up to 10% of the satellites to be destroyed before the network shut down. The satellites also incorporated short-ranged weaponry, usually laser cannons and concussion missiles, to deal with attacking starfighters.
The Orbital Nightcloak was again deployed by Zsinj over Dathomir, holding the planet hostage until the inhabitants handed over New Republic General Han Solo. Solo escaped Zsinj's clutches and succeeded in disrupting the chain of the Nightcloak satellites, saving the planet from being frozen.
All remaining satellites were most likely destroyed by the Hapan battle fleet that arrived at Dathomir shortly afterwards.
Sometimes dummy satellites were deployed as a countermeasure to the tactic of destroying or disabling satellites to stop the Orbital Nightcloak. The dummies would act as decoys that could be destroyed without affecting the system.
Behind the scenes
It is possible that the Nightcloak was inspired by the flying island Laputa from Gulliver's Travels. In case of a rebelling city, the first stage was covering it with the island's shadow, thus preventing sunlight and rain from reaching the rebels..
- X-wing: Solo Command
- The Courtship of Princess Leia (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption (Model only, cut from actual game)