While most students of galactic history are aware that Bothan Spies were only involved with the plans for the second dreaded Death Star and not the first Death Star, there’s a new wrinkle: Bothan Spies don’t steal shit. They only spy.
Lucasfilm Story Group rep Pablo Hidalgo set the record straight with SFX magazine: As we know, Bothans did not steal the first Death Star plans from Rogue One and A New Hope, but they also didn’t steal the plans for the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi, either. As reported by Games Radar, the forthcoming print issue of SFX has Hidalgo hammering home the ongoing Death Star plan confusion thusly: “I would like to finally clarify that the Bothans never stole any Death Star plans … because the lead-in to Rogue One drew a lot of attention to a basic misunderstanding … the Bothans just provided information on the [second] Death Star’s location, status, and that the Emperor was to visit; Mon Mothma never once mentions plans.”
So there you have it: the Death Star in Rogue One has nothing to do with the Bothans mentioned in Return of the Jedi. If you already knew that and you’re feeling smug, well, maybe you didn’t know the kind of information the Bothans supplied to the Rebellion about the second Death Star. But now you do. How did the Bothans die? Well, in the non-canon Shadows of the Empire comic, a lot of them got shot-up while Luke Skywalker was hanging out with them. Luke ended up fine, by the way.
Meanwhile, the answer the question as to why the Empire named TWO secret battle stations “the Death Star” in a row will probably never be explained. Bottom line: Because there are two Death Stars, expect ongoing confusion about who knew what about each Death Star to continue for a long, long time.