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

The Death Star of the movies might be one of the most terrifying weapons of mass destruction ever created. But it's clear that the moon-sized space station wasn't the most well-thought-out undertaking. 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.

The biggest problem with the Death Star is that building it would have been unbelievably pricey. It is as big as a moon.  And it was built from scratch. Not to mention that the Empire also created 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 destroyed the Galactic Economy.  And it would have happened overnight.  This is what Matthew Braga writes for Motherboard. 

In fact, Zachary Feinstein, an economist and associate professor at Washington University in St. Louis, 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 of at least 15 percent. And likely at least 20 percent, of [Galactic Gross Product] in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse," Feinstein wrote in a new paper.  It was published to the arXiv preprint server.  It is a publication for papers that have not been peer-reviewed.  

"Without such funds at the ready, it is likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions."
 
"If one wanted to build a Death Star, you didn't build it by launching a bunch of stuff off a planet," Muirhead says.  He spoke in a video for Wired. "You went and got yourself an asteroid and built it from that." 

In addition to the stability an asteroid core would add 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, organic compounds and even water for the future space station.
 
Surprisingly, this isn't 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.
 
While NASA isn't planning on building its own Death Stars any time soon, the Rebel Alliance should consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why should the Rebel Alliance consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (176)
  • jordanr-Orv
    1/08/2016 - 01:10 p.m.

    I get why people try to put logic in a fantasy movie. People like it because it probably never happen in real life.

  • smithbra10-dil
    1/08/2016 - 01:59 p.m.

    "While nasa isn,t planning on building its own death stars any time soon, the Reble illience should consider it self lucky that muirhead doesn't work for the empire." I disagree I think the muirhead should work for the Reble illience.Why should the Reble illience consider itself lucky that muirhead doesn,t work for the the empire?

  • ridlochr0-dil
    1/08/2016 - 02:30 p.m.

    It is because than they would have a harder time destroying the empire. The reason for that is the empire would have more power and stability.

  • pridecal0-dil
    1/08/2016 - 02:34 p.m.

    Could they create a wether machine to power a ion engon?

  • kates1-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:41 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance is lucky that Muirhead dose not work for the Empire because he knows how to make the death star more powerful. One way is build the death star on a asteroid. That is why you do not what Muirhead on the darkside

  • nicolea-lin-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance Is lucky indeed that Muirhead isn't working for the Empire because he is head at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and he personally stated that you go grab yourself an asteroid and build it from that.Also, it isn't just a thought.. Its his job.. So that's why I believe the Rebel Alliance is very lucky.

  • diwans1-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:43 p.m.

    I think the rebel alliance is lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the Empire because Muirhead can help the Empire improve the Death Star which would make it harder to destroy. The article mentioned that Muirhead said that an asteroid would be more stable and the core of the asteroid will add to the structure. This proves that Muirhead knows enough to help the Empire make a better Death Star. The Rebels are also lucky that Muirhead didn't help make the Death Star.

  • haileyb1-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:44 p.m.

    Critical Thinking Question: The Rebel Alliance is very lucky that the Empire isn't working with Muirhead because he is a chief engineer at NASA. A little x-wing destroyed a giant planet destroying weapon. People think that the Death Star couldn't be destroyed by the x-wing if there was asteroid around the Death Star. It says in the article,"If one wanted to build a Death Star, you didn't build it by launching a bunch of stuff off a planet," Muirhead says. He spoke in a video for Wired. "You went and got yourself an asteroid and built it from that." The article also includes,"In addition to the stability an asteroid core would add 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." He seems like he has very clever ways of figuring out how to protect and use the Death Star. It is very helpful to the Rebel Alliance that Muirhead didn't work for the Empire.

  • jaromr1-lin
    1/08/2016 - 02:44 p.m.

    The Rebels should be happy because the Death star could be destroyed by one x wing. If Muirhead was on the Empire side the death star wouldn't be destructive and the Rebels would loose. Also because Muirhead designs planes it helps so he could make the Death star extra fast. Because Muirhead works for NASA he knows how to Design his own space ship. The Empire would be a nightmare for the Rebels if Muirhead rebuilt The bad guy ships.

  • ashleyb-hor
    1/08/2016 - 02:51 p.m.

    The Rebel Alliance should consider itself lucky that Muirhead doesn't work for the empire because if he did and created the Death Star like he explained the Rebel Alliance wouldn't have been able to destroy it and save the galaxy. The authors purpose was to entertain you about something commonly loved by people today, Star Wars.

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