Back in 2015, Hollywood gossip site TMZ got a juicy look behind the scenes of Rogue One. Specifically, they were able to get spy shots of the tropical planet set that Jyn and her crew will infiltrate:
Apart from the First Order dropship-like ramp, one other thing stood out in this photo. Let’s take a closer look:
Do you see it? There’s a bunch of orange capsules on set. They were also present in other set pieces for Rogue One:
A closer look at the mysterious crates:
These spy shots were taken in September 2015 in a soundstage in North London.
Then in April, we got the first trailer for Rogue One. And once again, the mysterious crates were present. This time they were stowed in an armored vehicle convoy:
The Rogue One Lego sets leak last week confirmed that the hovertank thingy is carrying orange boxes:
Unfortunately we had to blur out the rest of the pic lest LEGO come after Stormtrooper Larry’s ass again
So what’s in them orange boxes? Making Star Wars thinks it has the answer: kyber crystals. MSW’s source says the orange boxes were called “kyber crystal crates” on set, and they were being mined from a mountain side.
According to Wookieepedia, kyber crystals are rare, naturally occurring crystals “resonating” with the Force. They were famously used as the lightsaber’s power source by both the Jedi and the Sith, and getting one was part of a youngling’s initiation in order to become a padawan.
More importantly, they were used as the basis for the old Sith Empire’s superweapons:
There were also larger, rarer crystals of great power and that, according to legend, were used at the heart of ancient superweapons by the Sith.
Interestingly, the Star Wars databank entry for the Death Star superlaser mentions kyber crystals as well:
Each of the Empire’s Death Stars were built around a terrifying weapon — a superlaser array capable of destroying an entire planet. According to legend, the ancient Sith used massive kyber crystals to create superweapons; during the Clone Wars, the Geonosians revived the superlaser design.
Here we can infer two things:
1. The Death Star isn’t the first superlaser weapon, but the latest in a long tradition of superweapons by the Sith. They really love big lasers.
2. Like its predecessors, the Death Star’s superlaser is likely powered by kyber crystals.
This makes sense. Since kyber crystals were used to focus energy into a lightsaber’s blade, they’re also the perfect choice for focusing superlaser streams into a single, poweful beam that could obliterate an entire planet. In essence, the Death Star is one giant lightsaber, albeit one that unleashes its energy in one massive, instantaneous blast instead of a less powerful but steady stream.
So what does this mean for Rogue One? If the Death Star is indeed powered by kyber crystals, the Rogue crew would run into these orange crystal crates as they infiltrate the Imperial base and steal the plans.
If you notice, the leaked TMZ photos show what looks like an underground entrance. This fits in with MSW’s underground mine / mountainside theory of where the Empire gets the crystals:
The crates themselves might be the plot device that would clue the Alliance in on what the Empire is building. After all, you don’t harvest shuttle-fulls of rare, laser-focusing crystals just for a lightshow in Coruscant.
Our guess is, that hovertank convoy in the trailer will be ambushed by Jyn’s crew. Then when the Empire gets tired of its crystal convoys getting blown by IEDs, it resorts to a new type of cargo carrier: the AT-ACT.