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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

For A More Civilized Age

How Much Would A Death Star Cost?


If you’ve ever sat up at night, wondering just exactly how much effort you’d have to put in to building a working to scale replica of the Death Star, you know, just because they said you couldn’t, and wouldn’t it totally impress that special person, and anyway what has this planet done for you lately why not just blow it up to teach it a lesson?

Well, if such questions have ever marched through the silent halls of your mind in a quiet moment, you might want to take a look at this project done by a student team at LeHigh University, which, if nothing else, is a lesson in scale.

They started with the assumption that the first Death Star was reportedly 140km in diameter, and based the rest of their conjecture on the technology used to make modern warships. Scale up the amount of iron used to make the HMS Illustrious to that size, and you’re looking at 1.08×1015 tons of steel. That’s 1,080,000,000,000,000 tons. Which seems like a lot, until they mention that if you took all the iron ore in the Earth, you could make slightly over 2 billion Death Stars.

So. There are just a few caveats:

But, before you go off to start building your apocalyptic weapon, do bear in mind two things. Firstly, the two billion death stars is mostly from the Earth’s core which we would all really rather you didn’t remove. And secondly, at today’s rate of steel production (1.3 billion tonnes annually), it would take 833,315 years to produce enough steel to begin work. So once someone notices what you’re up to, you have to fend them off for 800 millennia before you have a chance to fight back. In context, it takes under an hour to get the steel for HMS Illustrious.

Oh, and the cost of the steel alone? At 2012 prices, about $852,000,000,000,000,000. Or roughly 13,000 times the world’s GDP.*

But then again, you can just take out a loan from the entire planet and then default on them in the most awesome way possible.

In their article this statement is immediately followed by a picture of the Death Star blowing up Alderaan.

This is certainly not the final word on reverse engineering the cost of the Death Star: as one commenter pointed out, nobody’s added in the cost of getting all those materials to space in the first place, which just raises the question of why we aren’t getting them from space, but things swiftly start arcing into the area of “magic technology” and other fictional time and money saving enterprises. Anyone willing to improve on their methods may, we assume, do so.

(via GeekSugar.)

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  • Anonymous

    That’s a real back of the envelope calculation, but quite interesting.  I don’t think the Empire ever had the equivalent of 13,000 earths under it’s control, so the Death Star is a rather unlikely construction, heh.

  • eric mcintosh

    I don’t working to scale is what you mean.  You’re not talking about building an approximation you mean- A full sized version.  There’s no scale here.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VK7U6RFTAUIPW2JR2NGPBP2IYA super

    An obvious short cut.  You use some very powerful weapons that could destroy an entire world.  However those weapons wouldn’t be mobile.  They would be constructed in a remote and well defended system.  Then all of the ore would be in space, ready and easily available to use.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Rogan/814500446 Matthew Rogan

    What he didn’t factor into his costing is the launch vehicals used to lift every single ton of the death star from earth into space. now lets assume that you use the Long March 3B rocket with it’s low cost of $4,412/kg you now have a launch cost of $4.7 x 10^21 which dwarfs the steel costs of $8.5×10^17.  and thats just into low earth orbit, leaving out the feul for getting to a lagrange point or elsewhere in the solar system.

    however it’s considerably cheaper to extract and to not lift to space asteroid Iron.  which is the only real source for anything we are going to build with extrasolar ranges.  plus there are no major ecological catastrophies from strip mining asteroids, which they do in star wars I think.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_R7GVNIKWG3S2UTHEQOMSZXT4M4 Anna B

    God, the cost of building and owning a Death Star is just ridiculous. I blame the 1%.

  • Amanda W

    The Death Star was built in a secret location the center of a cluster of blackholes with only one way in and out. We can assume the ore was mined from asteroids, by droids and alien slaves. Cost and time of production could be significantly reduced by just creating the droids that mine and process the ore into Death Star components. And if you have machines that service the droids, you really only have to worry about the mother machine that makes the droid. So conceivably you just need one alien mastermind named Qui Xux behind the entire process…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kalynn-Osburn/100000209378615 Kalynn Osburn

    But…wait…didn’t they make 2 of those?

  • Anonymous

    This article reminded me of this, which made the rounds last year:
    http://www.dau.mil/pubscats/ATL%20Docs/Sep-Oct11/Ward.pdf 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Natalie-Sexton/100000074052310 Natalie Sexton

    A DEATH STAR IN EVERY GARAGE, AND A CHICKEN ON EVERY DINING ROOM TABLE.

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to take out a loan build a freaking rocket go to space and build a home some where on a remote planet.. Come back refuel blow the planet up all the while watching the fireworks from the comfort of your own home on another planet.

  • Anonymous

    Just don’t give Lockheed Martin the contract…………….

  • Anonymous

    Ya, it may actually get built!

  • Anonymous

    Eventually…..with the LockMart executives claiming success……can just destroy a large asteroid and only 350 % over budget

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6M7LOUUEH5UMXGH3IM5KQXO7AA frederick

    There are near asteroids that contain a variety of resources such as diamond, platinum, and
    iron ore. These could be mined for such a project.

  • Conor Raypholtz

    lolz you could do it for much less than that easily find a iron object in the astiroid belts and hallow them out into segments of a death star with cheap robots then attach them and run electronics :)

  • Conor Raypholtz

    in space there are solid iron balls we call asteroids… 2 or 3 could be hallowed by robots to make a entire death star really cheaply

  • Conor Raypholtz

    450% extra 100% to launch a study into why it cost so much..

  • http://www.facebook.com/rock.emond Rock Emond

    just wait for the insurance bill… and not to mention the premium increase after the “Skywalker” incident

  • Anonymous

    One thing everyone here seems to forget, is that you cannot bend light to get the effect of a death star.  That is strictly a Hollyweird trick.  It’ll never happen in real life.  The laws of physics won’t allow it.

  • Nerdburger

    Not to mention the resources of a galaxy spanning civilization like the Republic was before Palpatine turned it into The Galactic Empire. They would have have access to dead star cores, cometary clouds and asteroid belts from several thousand different star systems.

  • http://www.facebook.com/harley.odell.9 Harley O’dell

    Quantum physics will though

  • http://twitter.com/defector68 defector k

    some people have tooooo much free time to spend (gooh OP gooh, gooh)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Rogan/814500446 Matthew Rogan

    attually that part, is in fact currently posible – you can percisely tune and align lasers to create a laser with the lasers at the apex of the beam. it’s just very ineffcient. however if you assume that the lasers are forming with their diffraction pattern a relativistic ion accellerator that dosen’t melt itself from the heat, energy and shear, it makes a lot more sense. The rest of it could be the first stage of the accelerator and the lasers bump up the hardest part of the acceleration.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matthew-Rogan/814500446 Matthew Rogan

    why not just go full von nuerman on the empire then?

  • Anonymous

    And sit in the hangar, never being used for anything like the F-22.

  • Fart Vapers

    Yeah, but then who am I gonna find to kill with it? Oh, yeah, everybody…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/willie.chung1 Willie Chung

    the electrical wirering alone would cost more zero then can count,a electrician cost a average of 60-80 dallors an hour, you got a death star is about the size of the moon.even with say a thousand electrician it would take about 4 to 5 hundred years at say $60. a hour.it would be about 30 thrillian dallors.

  • Anonymous

    2 million death stars, not 2 billion — the original centives.net posting has been corrected; see footnote “*”.