Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star
Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star (Serious Cat via Flickr/Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)
Watch a NASA scientist school the empire on how to build a better death star
Lexile: 740L

Assign to Google Classroom

The Death Star of the movies might be one of the most terrifying weapons of mass destruction ever made. But it's clear that the moon-sized space station was not the most well-thought-out project. 

After all, what good is a planet-destroying weapon if it can be taken down by one measly little X-Wing? As it turns out, the Empire totally overlooked another design. It would have been faster and cheaper. And more effective, too. They could have simply built the Death Star around an asteroid.

What is the biggest problem with the Death Star? It would have been hugely costly to build. It is as big as a moon. And it was built from scratch. Not to mention that the Empire also made a backup. It was stashed in orbit around Endor. 

To build two massive space weapons in such a short period of time would have wrapped up such a huge amount of money. So their destruction likely ruined the Galactic Economy.  And it would have happened overnight. This is what Matthew Braga writes for Motherboard. 

Zachary Feinstein is an economist and associate professor. He works at Washington University in St. Louis. He did the math. He found that destroying the Death Star might have been Emperor Palpatine's final revenge against the Rebel Alliance.  Even as the good guys celebrated their victory, the loss of the Death Star would send them struggling to prevent a galaxy-wide economic depression.

"We found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout," Feinstein wrote in a new paper. He said it would need to be at least 15 percent. And may need to be even more. The bailout would be of Galactic Gross Product. 

The paper Feinstein wrote for was the arXiv preprint server. It is a publication for papers that have not been peer-reviewed.  He continued, "Without such funds at the ready, it is likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression."  And it would have been of astronomical proportions.
"If one wanted to build a Death Star, you did not build it by launching a bunch of stuff off a planet," Muirhead says. He spoke in a video. It was filmed for Wired. "You went and got yourself an asteroid.  And built it from that." 

An asteroid core would add stability to the Death Star's structure. Muirhead says that it would also provide all the assets a Sith Lord would need to realize his evil engineering vision. Those assets include raw metals and organic compounds. They even include water for the future space station.
Surprisingly, this is not just a thought experiment for Muirhead. It's his job. 

Muirhead is a chief engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is actually in charge of NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission. It aims to send a crewed mission to land on a deep-space asteroid. The goal is to achieve the feat by 2023. The asteroid would be dragged back to Earth orbit.
NASA is not planning on building its own Death Star any time soon. The Rebel Alliance should consider itself lucky that Muirhead does not work for the Empire.

Source URL:

Filed Under:  
Assigned 125 times
Why should the Rebel Alliance consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • yazzizec0-dil
    1/08/2016 - 01:51 p.m.

    "You went and got yourself an asteroid. And built it from that." I disagree that they went and some how built a "death star" out of just one asteriod. Have you seen the size of the "death star"!

  • alisont1-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:37 p.m.

    I think they are lucky because if they let Muirhead be on the the Empire side he would made the Empire stronger making the Empire winning the whole series. If they win then that would mean the bad guys win with a a good ending for them, but with the good guys losing. The Rebel Alliance is also lucky because if they made Muirhead make a bad ending the result is a bunch of complaints from their Star Wars fans saying and asking why they made the Empire win making is a bad movie.

  • kadenj-cam
    1/11/2016 - 05:33 a.m.

    Empire could make the Death Star a lot more cheaper, stronger, faster.
    If we build the Death Star on the asteroid, the inside of the Death Star will be very strong solid. Also it will be more cheap because they don't need to make inside.

  • mattl-bel
    1/11/2016 - 02:01 p.m.

    Because he would have his own empire.

  • sarahj-bel
    1/11/2016 - 02:11 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance should consider itself lucky that Murihead doesn't work for the empire is because he would have to do a lot of work.

  • elliew-bel
    1/11/2016 - 03:15 p.m.

    They wouldn't know how to use the Death Star.

  • jenniek-bel
    1/12/2016 - 01:57 p.m.

    Because he would have his own empire.

  • derekzangerle-bak
    1/12/2016 - 05:07 p.m.

    wow!!!the death star is stronger then I thoght

  • ryanstreator-bak
    1/12/2016 - 08:17 p.m.

    Wow! How many Death Star will thay build

  • valeriec-gon
    1/14/2016 - 01:22 p.m.

    because if he were the empire would be in trouble

Take the Quiz Leave a comment