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We all know that the Death Star's original design was done by the Geonosians. The people who made the plans did not want them to fall under the control of the Jedi or the Republic, so their ally Count Dooku took them away to a safe location.

Needless to say it had changed hands more than a few times by the time of Rogue One.

Spoilers for Rogue One:

In the movie Rogue One, the Death Star blew up the archive on Scarif with the Death Star's plans still plugged into the Citadel's transmitter. Galen Erso had said, "I know there's a complete engineering archive in the data vault at the Citadel Tower on Scarif." Could the Empire really have blown up the only complete plans in existence, leaving them with no copy?

It is clear from the events of Star Wars: A New Hope that the Empire never managed to get the "stolen Death Star" plans back from the Rebel Alliance.

To make thing more complicated, the Empire eventually managed to fix the flaw in the reactor in time for the second Death Star. To do that without the complete plans would have been painful.

So I was wondering: did they have backups of the plans for the first Death Star?

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In A New Hope, Grand Moff Tarkin is told

We've analyzed their attack, sir, and there is a danger. Should I have your ship standing by?

It does appear that the plans were still in existence somewhere, likely on the Death Star itself for this exchange to be able to happen.

Most likely Scarif is the only semi accessible place that Galen knows the plans are, since he apparently had some hand in them being there evidenced by the naming of the file there.

The empire likely also had plans for it somewhere else for them to be able to build the second Death Star as well.

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  1. This was covered in detail in this SFF Q&A. But in short, yes, the Scarif plans were likely NOT the only plans for Death Star - merely the one loaction that Erso Galen knew of and could point out in his message.

    “I know there’s at least one complete engineering archive in the data vault at the Citadel Tower on Scarif. Use what I’ve told you, run the analysis, and you’ll be able to plan your attack. Any pressurized explosion to the reactor module will set off a chain reaction that will -”
    (Official novelization, Chapter 6)

    Note the bolded text. "At least" implies that there are there are others.

    This makes sense out of universe. There's never just one copy of important documents. Everything of importance has backups.

  2. To cover your "fixed for Death Star II" point - additionally, we don't know if the reactor weakness was fixed in DS2. It wasn't destroyed the same way as DS1 - it was destroyed because the station wasn't finished and the fighters simply flew into it and actually blew up the reactor directly with weapons; as opposed to DS1 destruction caused by the Galen's flaw.

  • scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/8496/… "The first major change made in this redesign was the elimination of the two-meter-wide thermal exhaust port that was used to ignite a chain reaction in the main reactor of the first Death Star, destroying it." They flew into internal access tunnel, construction was still ongoing remember, to get to the reactor without the weakness of thermal exhaust port. – Vyndicu Dec 28 '16 at 23:09
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    @Vyndicu - thermal exaust port had nothing to do with the built-in reactor failure Galen created. It was kind of his fault, but not intentionally so (novelization covers it) – DVK Dec 28 '16 at 23:23
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    @Vyndicu - no, he didn't. He intentionally made the reactor system blow-uppable from a single explosion. The exaust port wasn't intentional (though also his work). – DVK Dec 28 '16 at 23:28
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    Darth Vadar was certainly present and was chasing Luke Skywalker making a run in the trench and failed to stop him. – Vyndicu Dec 29 '16 at 4:20
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    There was an earlier attack run where the pilot actually panic and shot the torpedoes too early and missed the thermal exhaust port. So Darth Vadar may or may not have realize what they were shooting at. But a quick look at the death star plan may have pointed out exactly what they were doing afterward. That clue and luke skywalker's run may be enough to figure out how they did it. – Vyndicu Dec 29 '16 at 15:01
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The key here is the word 'archive', I work in IT and typically this is just what it sounds like, a backup copy - they'll be other copies but that's where they keep their 'off-site' backups.

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I'm not sure about the origin of the plans, because I did not finish the book about the Death Star yet. But! Other books cleared my opinion. Galen Erso finished almost done plans with some add-ons. So there is possibility that the plans from Scarif were not the only plans of the actual Death Star.

  • link This is the earliest instance I know of a complete death star plan. It was handled off to Count Dooku during first battle of geonosis in order to avoid the plan falling into hand of Jedi. – Vyndicu Dec 28 '16 at 18:55
  • Okay, try Animated Clone Wars.. There is some clues about Darth Sidious, looks like he is the first owner. Because Geonosis it´s just the place where it was built (according to books like "Tarkin") – Sadloslav Dec 29 '16 at 9:31

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