On November 14, 2012, a petition was started on the White House’s website requesting the US government to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.” The petition attracted over 35 thousand signatures passing the required 25 thousand signatures required for the the White House to officially respond. In a letter titled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For,” the White House has declined.
The response, penned by Paul Shawcross, states its interest in creating jobs and securing the national defense, but the creation of a Death Star may not be in the best interest of US taxpayers. “The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000,” writes Shawcross. In a period of attempts to reduce the deficit, the creation of a Death Star by 2016 probably wouldn’t help. The article also states the fact that “the Administration does not support blowing up planets,” and that they wouldn’t want to waste taxpayer dollars on a ship with a flaw that can be “exploited by a one-man starship.”
Shawcross tries to settle our collective disappointment by explaining how we already have an International Space Station, and lots of telescopes, and a Mars rover with lasers, and all sorts of other cool stuff while peppering in some other Star Wars jokes. But still. A Death Star would have been really nice to bring in the new year come 2016.
The full text of Shawcross’s response is copied below:
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky—that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts—American, Russian, and Canadian—living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs—one wielding a laser—roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo—and soon, crew—to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.