- "This fierce machine which you have built, upon which we stand, will bring an end to the Senate! To their cherished fleet! All remaining systems will bow to the First Order! And will remember this… as the last day of the Republic!"
- ―General Armitage Hux
Starkiller Base was a military base located on the ice planet of Ilum in the Unknown Regions. The base served as a stronghold of the First Order thirty years after the Battle of Endor. Commanded by an unofficial triumvirate of General Armitage Hux, Kylo Ren, and Captain Phasma, it was armed with a superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems halfway across the galaxy. The First Order viewed this ability as an evolution of the planet-destroying capabilities of the Galactic Empire's Death Star designs, with the weapon serving as the ultimate culmination of old Imperial research into dark energy translations and hyperspace tunneling.
The base and planet were ultimately destroyed by a Resistance attack due to a weak point exploited by pilot Poe Dameron, causing the implosion of the entire planet as the superweapon was firing upon the Resistance base on D'Qar. The stored stellar energy then expanded, causing the planet to turn into a star.
Starkiller Base, also called "the Starkiller," was a base located on the forested ice planet of Ilum rich in kyber crystals that was located in the Unknown Regions. The First Order, a regime that believed themselves to be the successors to the ideals of the Galactic Empire, converted the planet into a base of operations owing to its unique energy-transmitting crystalline deposits, and used it to house a superweapon capable of destroying entire star systems. The superweapon consumed suns as a power source. Its mobility was provided by rocket ports on the far side of the base.
The weapon was powered by a type of dark energy called "quintessence," which was ubiquitous in the universe, and offered a practically unlimited power source to the First Order. Using a star as a power source, an array of collectors on one side of the planet would gather dark energy in stages, redirecting it to the planetary core, where it was held in place by the natural magnetic field of the planet, as well as an artificial containment field maintained by the machinery the First Order had installed within the crust. As the planetary magnetic field would not be enough to contain the amount of energy that the weapon required, a thermal oscillator was built into the planet. It generated an oscillating containment field which allowed the installation to expend considerably less energy at containing the dark energy than would be required using a steady containment field.
A colossal hollow cylinder, embedded within the massive trench left by the Empire's mining and large enough to dominate the view of the planet from orbit, penetrated the containment field to a predetermined distance, in order to direct the blast towards its target, and also to absorb its energy, which would otherwise cause catastrophic groundquakes. This design made the weapon vulnerable when it was fully charged, as the destruction of the containment field oscillator the moment before the weapon fired would release the accumulated energy not through the firing cylinder, but throughout the planetary core where it was being held, leading to the gradual collapse of the surface into the core.
As Starkiller Base was charged through the power of stars, it gradually blocked out sunlight until, running at full capacity, it extinguished it completely, leaving the surface in darkness. In order for the weapon to fire, its weapons engineers would induce a breach in the containment field, allowing the collected dark energy to escape the core through the hollow cylindrical opening on the antipodes of the planet relative to the stellar collector. During this process, the dark energy transformed to a state known as "phantom energy," and left the planet behind, tearing a hole through hyperspace along a perfectly linear path. The beam of energy was specifically designed to be seen across the galaxy, meant to encourage surrender to the First Order.
The people stationed at the base called the dimension through which the phantom energy beam traveled "sub-hyperspace," and this method of delivering the payload was near-instantaneous across vast distances. The rotation and inclination of the planet had to be taken into account for the weapon to target something, and also the lack of obstacles between it and the target, as the phantom energy beam would only be intercepted by an object of sufficient mass (like a planet). When the phantom energy struck a planet, the interaction produced enough heat to ignite the planet's core, creating a pocket nova. The space-time disruption caused by the phantom energy's passage would make the nova instantaneously visible thousands of light years away, for a short time.
Starkiller Base was protected by a planetary shield that was strong enough to deflect any bombardment, and could not be penetrated by any ship traveling at sublight speeds. The shield had an exploitable flaw, however; a fractional refresh rate necessary for a shield of its size, which could be exploited by a single ship exiting hyperspace inside the shield, with barely a second to right itself before crashing on the planet's surface. The shield control was also localized, which meant that, in case it was disabled via malfunction or sabotage, the planet would be unprotected in the time it took technicians to arrive at shield control and reestablish its operation. If shield control was damaged beyond repair, shield control had to be overridden, which was a time-consuming process. These flaws were utilized by the Resistance to destroy the base. The Millennium Falcon entered the shield after traveling through hyperspace and crash-landed on the edge of a cliff.
In addition to the primary weapon and shield control, Starkiller Base's facilities included numerous ship hangars, sanitation infrastructure, amenities for the garrison of stormtroopers, flooding tunnels and a room dedicated to communications with Supreme Leader Snoke via hologram. Snowtroopers utilized Light Infantry Utility Vehicles to help maintain the vast technological accomplishment that was Starkiller Base, as its technology penetrated the entire planet. Crew and support staff helped maintain this vast technological terror in both surface and subsurface facilities, while the sheer size of the planet meant that droid workers were essential in maintaining the base. Sentry droids utilized rolling casters to travel through the base's interior, while patrol droids utilized long-range communications antennae to survey the wilderness above. The planet was also host to the largest known deployment of First Order military forces by the time of its destruction, with its command and operations crew drawing from both Army and Navy ranks.
The planet that would host Starkiller Base, Ilum, was once a remote and mysterious world known only to a handful in the galaxy. During the age of the Galactic Empire, Ilum was mined for kyber crystals for use in the Death Star's superlaser. The resultant over-mining of kyber crystals caused the planet to bear an equatorial trench that would eventually host the Starkiller superweapon.
After the Empire's fall at the Battle of Jakku, the founders of the First Order secured research logs from secret Imperial laboratories detailing the planet. After searching for decades in the Unknown Regions for a world that met the planet's exact specifications, the First Order eventually located Ilum. The planet was initially scouted by snowtrooper teams who eliminated any native life forms that could have posed a threat to the extensive future excavation and construction project. Ilum soon became known as Starkiller Base, and became the unofficial headquarters of the First Order. Mining operations were conducted in order to harvest the planet's kyber crystal deposits for use in the First Order's war machine, and after sufficient excavation was completed, the Order converted Starkiller Base into a mobile superweapon platform, with the colossal superlaser array embedded in the massive trench in the planet's crust. The conversion of the planet into a superweapon was made easier by the earlier Imperial mining.
Home to the First Order
The superweapon housed in the base bore some similarities to the DS-1 Death Star Mobile Battle Station and the DS-2 Death Star II Mobile Battle Station, the two planet-destroying battle stations built by the Galactic Empire, but it possessed far more power than its predecessors and was more than twice the size, as it was built into a planet. Starkiller Base represented a technological step forward in power, as the First Order believed that they needed to become more powerful than the fallen Galactic Empire if they were to succeed in enacting their goals. Starkiller Base drew its power from the energy of stars, a possible reason for its name.
The culmination of the Galactic Empire's research into dark energy translations and hyperspace tunneling, the enormous arrays of specially designed collectors used the power of a sun to attract and send dark energy to a containment unit at the core of the planet, where it was held and built up until the weapon was ready to fire. Its ability to concentrate dark energy in this manner gave Starkiller Base access to a practically unlimited source of energy.
At some point prior to the mission to the Dassal system, the system's sun was drained by Starkiller Base. Additionally, the planet Najra-Va was cored in a test attempt to construct the base. The First Order used ships to transport trash off of the planet and dump it on the Garbage Moon of Maher. On Starkiller, stormtroopers, such as FN-2187 and FN-3761, kept the floors clean with the use of mops. After being stranded on a remote planet with Kylo Ren, General Hux and Captain Phasma confronted Admiral Brooks on Starkiller Base, whilst it was under construction, where he killed the admiral.
Last day of the Republic
- "The weapon. It is ready. I believe the time has come to use it. We shall destroy the government that supports the Resistance, the Republic. Without their friends to protect them, the Resistance will be vulnerable, and we will stop them before they reach Skywalker."
"Go. Oversee preparations."
"Yes, Supreme Leader."
- ―General Hux, and Supreme Leader Snoke
The first test of the base's weaponry, which had already been charged by draining a star before moving into position, happened right before the Battle of Takodana. After gaining Supreme Leader Snoke's approval, General Hux commanded the base to fire on the capital of the New Republic, Hosnian Prime, and four other planets in the Hosnian system, utterly destroying the planets and a a significant portion of the New Republic's fleet. This event became known as the Hosnian Cataclysm.
During the Battle of Takodana, the scavenger and Resistance ally Rey was captured by Kylo Ren and taken to Starkiller Base, where he attempted to interrogate her. She was able to resist upon realizing that she was Force-sensitive.
- "So we disable the shields, we take out the oscillator, and we blow up their big gun. Alright, let's go."
- ―Poe Dameron
As Starkiller Base prepared to destroy the planet D'Qar, the site of the Resistance's headquarters, the Resistance planned an attack of their own. Using information from Finn, a defected First Order Stormtrooper, Resistance pilot Temmin Wexley flew a reconnaissance mission to the Starkiller Base system, acquiring detailed scan data on the base. Using the data, Finn revealed a critical weak point—the Starkiller's thermal oscillator—that, if destroyed when the weapon was fully charged, but before it fired, would eliminate the base.
Squadrons of X-wings engaged TIE fighters defending the base, while the Millennium Falcon bypassed its shields and deployed a ground team to disable the shield generators. When the X-wings tried to take down the thermal oscillator but failed, Han Solo and his team delved deeper into the Starkiller's subterranean complex, with the aim of reaching the weak point themselves. Along the way they re-encountered Rey, who had freed herself. Chewbacca detonated explosives on columns supporting an access tunnel that led into the thermal oscillator's conduit. With the tunnel open, Poe Dameron, a commander in the Resistance Starfighter Corps, entered it and destroyed the conduit, starting a chain reaction of explosions across the planet's surface. The planet imploded and then exploded, the stored material from the drained sun expanding to create a new micro-star in the planet's place, turning the star system into a binary. The new star was unofficially named "Solo" in honor of Han's passing.
- "They've conjured legions of Star Destroyers. The Sith fleet will increase our resources ten-thousandfold. Such range and power will correct the error of Starkiller Base."
- ―Allegiant General Enric Pryde
Despite the loss of Starkiller Base, the First Order, having decimated the government of the New Republic, began to reign. Confident enough to emerge from the shadows, Snoke decided to command his forces himself from his flagship, the Mega-class Star Dreadnought Supremacy. Acknowledging that their headquarters had been discovered, the Resistance was forced to evacuate D'Qar. The Resistance was nearly decimated by the First Order Navy. With a handful of survivors remaining, including General Leia Organa, the remains of the Resistance fled to Crait and then escaped from certain defeat aboard the Millennium Falcon thanks to the efforts of the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and Rey.
While talking about their adventures, Dameron revealed to Rey that when Starkiller Base destroyed the Hosnian system, he initially thought they were finished, assuming that the laser was to hit Takodana. He then stated that even the Resistance wasn't sure about what Starkiller was, as they only knew its location from following the trajectory of the lasers.
The zealous Enric Pryde, who had witnessed the fall of the Galactic Empire and later obtained the rank of Allegiant General within the First Order, viewed the Starkiller as a costly mistake. In his eyes, blame for the base's destruction belonged to Hux, the young general who had long championed the weapon's power. One year after Starkiller Base's destruction, Kylo Ren informed his Supreme Council that their forces would merge with the Sith Eternal, the secret cult of Darth Sidious hidden away on Exegol. Although General Domaric Quinn voiced skepticism at the idea, Pryde viewed the proposition as an essential correction to Hux's errors with Starkiller Base.
The Sith Eternal's fleet, the Final Order, bolstered the resources of the First Order's navy and supplied them with Xyston-class Star Destroyers, capital ships equipped with planet-killing axial superlasers. While unable to destroy entire systems at once as the Starkiller once did, the massive Sith fleet had the potential to spread across the galaxy and subjugate countless worlds. After the Star Destroyer Derriphan annihilated the planet Kijimi, the Resistance fought a decisive battle against the Sith Eternal at Exegol, where they destroyed the Sith fleet and ended their planet-killing capabilities for good.
Behind the scenes
- "It is very much — and it's acknowledged as such in the movie — apparently another Death Star. But what it's capable of, how it works, and what the threat is, is far greater than what the Death Star could have done. Starkiller Base is another step forward, technologically speaking, in terms of power."
- ―J.J. Abrams, on the similarities and differences between the Death Stars and Starkiller Base
Starkiller Base was created for the 2015 film Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. The film's director, J.J. Abrams, stated that the superweapon's similarities to the two Death Stars from the original trilogy were intentional, as the new generation of Imperials within the First Order would want to prove that they were stronger and more advanced than their predecessors in the Galactic Empire. The base's name harkens back to the original name of Luke Skywalker, who George Lucas originally called Luke Starkiller.
According to Pablo Hidalgo of the Lucasfilm Story Group, the sub-hyperspace rip caused by the base's firing allowed the light from the novas to be temporarily visible as it happened on the surface of Takodana. Hidalgo also stated that the base was mobile, and that it had consumed a star before destroying the Hosnian system.
Based on information from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order and Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away, it is heavily implied that Starkiller Base is actually the planet Ilum. Both depict Ilum as strip-mined for kyber crystals by the Empire, resulting in a striking resemblance to Starkiller Base. The connection between Ilum and Starkiller Base was officially confirmed in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary.
In Star Wars Legends, there existed a space station called the Star Forge, which, like Starkiller Base, also drew in energy from a star to convert it into energy. However, instead of redirecting it through a destructive beam, the Star Forge converted the stellar matter into raw material to manufacture starships and war material meant for conquest.
- Disney Infinity 3.0
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Poe to the Rescue" (Indirect mention only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Resistance Rises – "Attack of the Conscience"
- LEGO Star Wars: All-Stars – "Scouting for Leia/A Mission with Maz" (Mentioned only)
- LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
- Star Wars: Galaxy of Heroes
- LEGO Star Wars Terrifying Tales (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary
- Age of Resistance - Finn 1
- Star Wars Battlefront II
- Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens
- Join the Resistance: Attack on Starkiller Base
- Star Wars: Complete Locations
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: The Visual Dictionary
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens novel
- Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
- Age of Resistance - General Hux 1
- Star Wars: Episode VIII The Last Jedi
- Poe Dameron 27
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: A Junior Novel
- Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker: The Visual Dictionary dates the events of Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker to one year after the events of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. As Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates the events of The Force Awakens to 34 ABY, the events of The Rise of Skywalker must occur in 35 ABY.
- Star Wars: Episode IX The Rise of Skywalker
- Star Wars Super Graphic: A Visual Guide to a Galaxy Far, Far Away
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film