The Death Star is a moon-sized military space-station that is the Galactic Empire's ultimate weapon of doom, capable of destroying planets with a single shot of it's superlaser. The Death Star was to be an instrument of terror, meant to cow treasonous worlds with the threat of annihilation. It had a formidable array of turbolasers and tractor beam projectors, giving it the firepower of greater than half the Imperial starfleet. Within its cavernous interior were legions of Imperial troops and fightercraft, as well as all manner of detention blocks and interrogation cells.
In a brutal display of the Death Star's power, Grand Moff Tarkin, one the Empire's preeminent governors, targeted its prime weapon at the peaceful world of Alderaan. Leia Organa, an Imperial captive at the time, was forced to watch as the searing laser blast split apart her beloved world, turning the planet and its populace into orbital ash and debris.