Death Stars: Population

The Death Stars are the greatest technological wonders of the STAR WARS galaxy. This page is examines their dimensions, structure, function and capabilities. It is a synthesis and conciliation of existing knowledge and also uses numerous illustrations and calculations to explore previously unknown aspects of the Death Star space stations.


There are serious problems of scale with the figures for the crew and troop complements of the Death Stars as claimed by West End Games sources. Assuming their favourite personnel number estimates, and using their demonstrably erroneous diameters of merely 120km and 160km, the densities of humans on the surface of each battle station were about twenty-six and thirty-one per square kilometre, respectively. This assumes that all of the Death Star inhabitants lived on the same surface level. In fact we know that these battle stations contained at least several thousand floors, even if the habitable zone only extends from the upper few kilometres from the surface. If these Death Star population estimates were correct then either the corridors would be so empty that a chance encounter with a stormtrooper would be virtually impossible, or else habitation only covered a few isolated surface areas. If the battle station is inhabited in such a sparse or patchy fashion then it could be dangerously vulnerable to saboutage, or serious malfunctions could occur without being noticed. When we take physically realistic estimates for the sizes of the Death Stars, the population densities (again assuming only one storey) would drop to below one lonely human being per square kilometer!

The population of 31,622,963 postulated for the Death Star I in The Technical Book of Science Fiction Films is much more reasonable For the small size of the station assumed in this book, this means a surface density of crewman of 2217.46 / km². However the crew live and work on at least hundreds of layered decks throughout at least the top few kilometres of the the station's skin. Thus we still have problems with underpopulated corridors.

Realistic crew and troop populations for the Death Stars must be at least several thousand times the previously published estimates. Each of these battle stations probably carried a few billion military personnel. Given that the Galactic Empire is able to recruit from millions of worlds which typically have populations of billions, this is still only a miniscule fraction of the galaxy's total resources. It should be remembered that there exist totalitarian states on Earth where a substantial proportion of the total population is in military service. The Galactic Empire is probably a relatively under-militarised society by comparison.

It is noteworthy that almost all the gross underestimates of Death Star population are actually contained within documents authored by members of the Rebel Alliance [in ntrinsic terms within the STAR WARS universe]. The Movie Trilogy Sourcebook is written from the vantage of a rebel "historian" (retrospective propagandist) Voren Na'al. The Death Star Technical Companion seems to be a document aimed at rebel diplomats, officers and soldiers, at least according to hints like the appendix preamble on p.84. It is understandable that the propagandists of the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic might wish to belittle these intimidating accomplishments of Imperial military engineering, and to promulagte underestimates of the slaughter at Yavin, which a rational semi-quantitative analysis suggests to be comparable in magnitude to the holocaust at Alderaan.

Mandel blueprints with a pre-SWRPG estimate of the Death Star population, but gross underestimates of the station's size and mass.

  • Return to Death Stars
  • Return STAR WARS Technical Commentaries.
  • Return to Curtis Saxton home page.
    Original content is © copyright Curtis Saxton 2002.
    Online since sometime before mid-1996.
    Last updated 2 April 2002.

    This page was constructed and is maintained by Curtis Saxton.
    This page is neither affiliated with nor endorsed by Lucasfilm Ltd.
    This site is kindly hosted by