Star Wars: Imperial Industrial Capacity
Last Revised: 1999.05.22
The puny Federation, with 150 member planets, is utterly insignificant compared to the Empire. Our galaxy contains 400 billion stars, over 100 billion of which have been mapped. It also contains at least 12 million inhabited star systems. The breadth and width of our territory covers the entire galaxy, although there are literally billions of star systems which have yet to be explored. Even with twenty five thousand years to expand our territory, we could colonize one planet every month and still not make significant inroads. However, there are some Federation cultists who wish to claim that there are less than 12 million star systems in our territory, and some who even go so far as to claim that we only control a portion of one quadrant of the galaxy, similar to their enemies, the Borg. This is utter nonsense- the official galactic map from the BTM CD clearly shows the galactic core located where it should be- at the galactic core (something which should be obvious, but which some cultists insist on denying). More importantly, it shows a selection of historically significant colonized planets, and they clearly are scattered all over the galaxy, from one end to the other. There are several other canon and official references describing the galaxy's size.
From the canon novelization of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, softcover pg. 116: "This station is the final link in the new-forged Imperial chain which will bind the million systems of the Galactic Empire together once and for all." Spoken by Grand Moff Tarkin.
From pg. 301 of Tales of the Bounty Hunters hardcover: "In a sector of the galaxy Boba Fett had never heard of, a star went nova; it murdered a world and an entire sentient species. It aroused less comment than had the destruction of Alderaan, only a decade prior; the galaxy at large barely noticed the tragedy, and Fett never heard about it. In a galaxy with over four hundred billion stars, over twenty million intelligent species, such things are bound to happen."
From Dark Empire, issue #3: Leia: "It's true, Han. The Force is bringing me closer to Luke ... even though he's light years away ... he's in terrible trouble, Han. The dark side is swallowing him whole! We've got to find him!" Han: "Sure, why not? There's only twelve million inhabited star systems out there ... it shouldn't be too hard."
The above quotes allow us to derive several conclusions:
The ANH quote made it clear, back in 1977, that the Empire has at least one million star systems under its direct control. This allows us to place a lower limit on the size of the Empire, with the added benefit that it comes from a canon source rather than an official source. Federation cultist denials of Imperial size are obviously based on ignorance of the oldest, most canon source there is.
The TOTBH quote describes the size of the galaxy, which is significantly larger than the Milky Way galaxy in which the Federation resides. Ludicrous Federation cultist claims about a super-small Imperial galaxy are obviously invalid.
The TOTBH quote also describes more than 20 million intelligent species, which is consistent with an organization containing millions of star systems (particularly when most of those star systems are colonized by humans). We saw only a handful of species in ANH, TESB, and ROTJ- a miniscule fraction of the 20 million species described here, using a miniscule fraction of the 6 million forms of communication known to C3PO. This indicates that ANH, TESB, and ROTJ depict only a tiny portion of the vast territory of the Empire.
The DE quote indicates that the number of inhabited star systems is actually greater than twelve million. However, it must be noted that many of these star systems are probably small outposts rather than full member systems, like the one million systems mentioned in the ANH novelization.
There is some debate as to where the so-called "Unknown Regions" are located. The Unknown Regions were mentioned in Heir to the Empire among other sources, and they are a region of space which has been roughly mapped (so that the locations of stars etc. are known) but not thoroughly explored. Some claim that the Unknown Regions constitute one or more "pie-shaped" quadrants of the galaxy, but there is no reason why anyone with the technology to travel from the core to the outer rim would always do so in one quadrant. It is more likely that the Unknown Regions are either a poorly explored area that is often skipped over by travellers, or the galactic halo- the diffuse region of stars and globular clusters which exist outside of the thicker regions of the galactic disc. This halo would be inconvenient to settle because of the dispersion, which would explain why no one ever bothered exploring it in 25,000 years (even though the OutBound project was created to explore other galaxies).
The Federation cultists believe their Federation has impressive industrial capacity, but they are clearly not familiar with our industrial capacity. We have constructed 25,000 Star Destroyers in the last 20 years and two Death Stars within the last 5 years. These forces, impressive as they are, are still dwarfed in numbers by the massive fleets of dreadnaughts, frigates, escort cruisers, light cruisers, etc. that have been patrolling the galaxy for millenia.
Some Federation cultists make ludicrous claims about us having only a few thousand ships (like their puny Federation), because Han Solo stated in ANH that the Empire couldn't possibly have destroyed Alderaan. He said: "The entire starfleet couldn't destroy the planet. It would take a thousand ships with more firepower than I've-" before being cut off by a hurtling TIE fighter. Frankly, it doesn't take a genius to see that this quote can be interpreted in many ways, not least of which is the fact that Han Solo is demonstrably wrong about the capabilities of the Empire since he claims that it is "impossible" for them to have done what they just did: destroy a planet. For them to twist this quote to claim that the Empire can control millions of star systems with a few thousand ships is typically illogical- he is speaking in the heat of the moment, he obviously knows nothing about the true capabilities of the Empire since he thinks they can't destroy a planet (even though they just did) and the Death Star was too large to possibly be an Imperial space station (even though it was). Furthermore, the density of ships filling the Coruscant sky in TPM indicates that millions of ships travel in and out of Coruscant on a daily basis. This isn't even the full military force of the Empire- it is just the food and supply ship traffic for Coruscant's population! We must repeat, and emphasize that any Federation cultist who makes ludicrous claims about our starship fleets being as small as their puny starship fleets is obviously ignorant, self-delusional, or both.
It should be noted that the most common Federation cultist objection is that we never see hundreds or thousands of Imperial warships in one place at one time during the original trilogy. Frankly, this line of argument betrays a staggering lack of analysis. ANH, ROTJ, and TESB's events take place almost entirely in the Outer Rim, where fleet density is low. The only events in the Galactic Core, in all three films, take place in ANH during the destruction of Alderaan. Alderaan had little or no standing fleet, and the Death Star required no fleet since its firepower exceeded that of half the entire Imperial starfleet. Every other event in all three original trilogy films takes place in the Outer Rim, away from the highest concentrations of ships. The Emperor only used a few dozen ships for his ambush at Endor, but he had the Death Star which is itself equivalent to millions of ships. The fleet was only there to herd the rebel ships into position for the Death Star. In the first minute of TPM we see that the Trade Federation blockade consists of 2 mile wide starships in geosynchronous orbit, less than 10 miles apart. Since the TradeFed blockade was a full planetary blockade, this means that they had thousands of these vessels in orbit. This isn't even the government- it is a mere shipping company! Furthermore, the blockade itself is described as "trivial" by Qui-Gon; clearly, this was not a stunning quantity of starships to him. Obviously, attempts to equate Imperial fleet size to Federation fleet size are misguided and futile.
A common fallacy is the belief that Star Destroyers are exceptionally large even by the standards of the Galactic Empire, when in fact they are unremarkable vessels. The Invincible-class dreadnaughts which patrolled space generations before the first Imperator-class Star Destroyers were commissioned were over 2km long, like the one that Han Solo encountered when he traveled to the Stars' End prison facility.
However, a lone ISD is still an impressive sight for primitive cultures, who are generally incapable of constructing a vessel on that scale (the Federation has never been able to build a starship longer than 700 metres). Its length is approximately 1600 metres, and its volume is approximately 9E7 m³. Contrast this with the Federation's front-line warship, the military-version GCS. Several hundred of these ships were deployed in their recent Dominion War, making them the apparent backbone of their fleet (their Defiant-class and Sovereign-class ships are few in number). The GCS is a mere 650 metres in length, and a mere 6.5E6 m³ in volume. Federation cultists invariably compare the length of the two ships when comparing their size, but volume defines mass, and the volume of an ISD is fourteen times as large as the volume of a GCS. A one-dimensional comparison of length is oversimplistic and unrealistic- a 10m sphere is 8 times larger than a 5m sphere, even though it is only twice as wide.
Therefore, even if we disregard the rest of the fleet and exclusively discuss ISD's, the Empire's ISD fleet is as massive as 350,000 GCS's.
The second Death Star was roughly 900 km in diameter (ref. Star Wars Technical Commentaries and the Endor tactical display in ROTJ), so its volume was roughly 3.8E17 m³. Some of the apocryphal sources (relying on ridiculously unreliable RPG-based statistics) indicate a mere 120km diameter for DS1 and 160km diameter for DS2, but SWICS refutes these claims with a 160km diameter figure for DS1, which obviously means that the much larger DS2 was not 160km in diameter. The visual evidence from ROTJ also supports this claim.
Since we know that DS2's volume is 3.8E17 m³ and a GCS's volume is 6.5E6 m³, we can easily calculate that DS2 is equivalent in volume to more than fifty billion GCS's. Approximately 60% of DS2 was completed in the six month period before ROTJ (ref. Shadows of the Empire). Therefore, if the Federation had comparable industrial production to the Empire, it should have been able to build 35 billion GCS's in six months, or 2200 GCS's per second. This is obviously not the case, therefore the Federation has at best a miniscule fraction (<1 millionth of a percentage point) of the industrial capacity of the Empire.
Some dimensionally-challenged Star Trek fans have attempted to claim that their starbases add up to the equivalent of a Death Star in terms of size and industrial requirements. However, even if we leave aside the issue that DS2 was 60% constructed in 6 months while the Federation's starbases were constructed over a 200 year period, this is obviously not true. Starbase 74 (shown here) is approximately 5400m in diameter at the head, and 6900m in length. The secondary hemisphere beneath its mushroom head is roughly 2.5km in diameter, and the rest of the spine is roughly 1.5km in diameter. We can therefore estimate that 7E10 m³ is an extremely generous estimate for the volume of Starbase 74. Therefore, DS1 is at least as large as thirty thousand space stations the size of Starbase 74, and DS2 is at least as large as five million space stations the size of Starbase 74.
Starbase 74, in spite of its puny size, is actually the largest space station ever constructed by the Federation. In fact, it is one of only three Federation space stations larger than DS9 (ref. DS9 TM).
The ability to construct vast space stations and fleets of starships is paired with vast logistical supply capabilities by reason of necessity. The Federation is often claimed to own an advantage in this area thanks to their replicators, but the duplicator technology seen in Han Solo and the Lost Legacy performs the same function as replicators. Furthermore, neither duplicators or replicators eliminate the need for supply ships. Both require raw materials composed of the appropriate elements to produce the necessary products, so vital supplies (foods, starship parts, weapons, miscellaneous consumables) still need to be shipped to fleets and space stations. Mineral ores still need to be mined and refined. It is strange that Federation cultists would insist that replicators completely eliminate the need for a conventional logistical infrastructure in spite of the continued need for mineral extraction and refining facilities in their territory. Terek Nor, now known as Deep Space Nine, originally served exclusively as a mineral refining installation!
Some Federation cultists insist that we possess no rapid-fabrication technology and are forced to use primitive 20th century assembly lines. However, this is a perfect example of their unscientific thinking, because DS2 simply could not have been constructed in such a manner. From Shadows Of The Empire, we know that no fabricated components were shipped to Endor; Prince Xizor's privately-owned transport fleet carried nothing but unprocessed raw materials to Endor to keep the construction of DS2 secret. This means that the raw materials had to be rapid-fabricated into useful components at the construction site, but there were no industrial facilities on the Endor sanctuary moon or in orbit. Therefore, mobile rapid-fabrication equipment must have been used to build the components in DS2.
More evidence of the massive scale of Imperial transport fleets can be seen in the fate of Gholondreine-b. On pg. 167, it states:
"The oceans of Gholondreine-b had been sucked down to the last molecule of saline liquid, then transported by a fleet of massive Imperial freighters to an orbital catalysis plant near Coruscant. Economy hadn't been the motivating factor- it was more expensive to ship that amount of water than to synthesize it- but punishment had been."
Note the ramifications: a single transport fleet carried the entire planetary oceans of Gholondreine-b away. If Gholondreine-b was similar to Earth, then the mass of its oceans would have been roughly 1.4E21 kilograms. Even if the transport fleet was composed of a million ships, each vessel would have had to carry 1.4 trillion tons of water! The density of water is roughly 1 metric ton/m³, so each ship would have needed at least 1.4 trillion cubic metres of cargo space. If the transports were cylindrical in shape, they had to be 5 km in diameter and at least 71 km long to have that much internal space! Even if each ship took 1000 round trips, the operation would have required a million-ship fleet of vessels measuring 1km in diameter and 1.8km long. This incident shows again how the Imperial transport fleet is superior to anything the Federation could possibly field.
The Star Wars Galactic Empire's industrial capacity is overwhelmingly superior to the Star Trek Federation's industrial capacity, and it has allowed us to build the massive military force that we will use to crush the Federation.
The ISD fleet is equivalent in size to 350,000 GCS's, and it is but a small fraction of our total fleet.
DS2 is equivalent in size to over 50 billion GCS's or 5 million of the Federation's largest starbases, and it was 60% completed in only six months.
We also have superior logistical capabilities, although the capture of such a small piece of territory will not present any kind of test for our supply fleets anyway.
Johann Crombach, for calculating the volumes of ISD's and GCS's based on 3D model data.