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Rogue One: A dive into the shield gate protecting the Empire's Los Alamos

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ILM

Star Wars fans have been wondering: What is the wheel-shaped space station that an X-Wing squadron is seen attacking in Rogue One?

What you’re looking at is the Shield Gate, and the world below is Scarif, a tropical planet that is one of the Empire’s key military bases. Think of it as a galactic Los Alamos, the top-secret desert town where scientists and engineers built the first nuclear bomb during World War II.

Scarif is a gigantic version of that — a remote weapons development facility that is so precious to the Emperor that the entire planet is covered by an impenetrable force field.

“You can see the blue sheen surrounding the entire planet,” Rogue One co-producer John Swartz says. “The shield gate is the security. As Imperial ships and cargo comes through, it punches a hole in the shield so they can pass. The gate officer gives clearances as they give out their call signs.”

Scarif is a key part of what the filmmakers call “the Imperial security complex,” he added, making it the home base of Ben Mendelsohn’s Director Orson Krennic, head of the Empire’s special weapons division. 

“It’s part of their military industrial complex. It’s not necessarily where the Death Star was constructed, but a lot of military research goes on there,” Swartz says. “That’s why Krennic spends time there. It’s the site of research, structural engineering, munitions and manufacturing, all rolled into one facility.”

In these shots, you see Rebel X-Wing fighters during the movie’s critical battle — attacking and breeching the gate as it skims the surface of the shield, opening a doorway into the planet’s atmosphere.

ILM/Lucasfilm

The goal of the Rebels is the basic plot of the movie: Secure the plans for the original Death Star.

While we long ago saw the final battles between the Rebels and the Empire, here we are seeing one of the first.

Check back later for more Rogue One images.

For more Star Wars news, follow @Breznican.

To read more on Rogue One, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Tuesday, or buy it here now – and subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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