The allure of Star Wars lies in the creation of its vast fictional galaxy, one full of planets like Alderaan (RIP), Tatooine and Coruscant, a universe primed for escapism. That being said, sometimes it is fun to place the fantastical into real terms, and with the upcoming release of Rogue One, one particular study has highlighted the sheer financial investment required to create the Star Wars' most fearsome weapon: The Death Star.
The results have been collated by Twizzle, who applied the mechanics of the construction of the planet-destroying monstrosity into Earth terms, as well as wracking up the cost of materials and the time it would take to produce. It's time to bring out the calculator, because these are some big numbers. In summary, the construction has a volume of 1,440,000 km3 and a mass of 1.08 x 1015 tonnes, and around 140km in diameter (our Moon is 3,474km in diameter).
Now onto terms that are relatively easy to understand. Using the Earth's iron, you could make two million Death Star's, although you'd have to access the Earth's core to do so. The production timescale at the rate of 1.3 billion tonnes annually (typical for our planet), would mean it would take 833,315 years to produce enough iron. Yikes.
But How Much Would It All Cost?
It's unsurprising, then, that the production itself would be costly. The cost of materials alone would come to $852 quadrillion, on top of a cost of $20,000 per kilogram to simply blast it into outer space (costing, for the size of this structure, $21.6 quintillion). The final total would come in at *drumroll*: $22,452,000,000,000,000,000! Yes, that number, which is $22.4 quintillion. To put that into perspective (because, let's face it, we need to) the Earth's entire GDP is $75.59 trillion.
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So in short, the cost of physically building the Death Star in real world terms would equate to 297,023 times the Earth's entire GDP (according to a fancy online calculator I had to use to try and work it out). Ouch, that's a lot of money to be throwing around. If the Galactic Empire have that much money, imagine how much Darth Vader gets paid?
A Brief History Of The Death Star
The Galactic Empire's planet-like weapon — which had a population of 1.7 million — has become an iconic aspect of the Star Wars saga. It featured heavily in Lucas's original, A New Hope (1977), sparking the narrative after Princess Leia obtained the plans to its construction. Luke Skywalker eventually managed to destroy it, although unfortunately not before it could annihilate Leia's home planet of Alderaan.
The project at various stages is displayed throughout the prequels and by Revenge of the Sith (2002) is shown to be under early construction. Although Luke was successful in destroying the original, a second and even more commanding Death Star was shown in Return of the Jedi (1983), although that too was destroyed (the Empire clearly didn't learn from previous mistakes) before full completion.
Furthermore, the déjà vu inducing Starkiller Base appeared in The Force Awakens (2015), acting as a hub for the First Order as well as containing a weapon that could not only wipe out whole planets, but could wipe out entire star systems.
This year, Rogue One will go back in time and tell the story behind the Death Star's construction. The narrative will run into the opening crawl of A New Hope, depicting the Rebel Alliance and their ambitious mission to steal the construction plans to find a weakness. Plus, it has been revealed Galen Erso — father of protagonist Jyn Erso — was the architect of the entire design.
Rogue One is set to alter our view of the original trilogy, honing in on a time so closely linked to A New Hope. A huge part of that will indeed include the Galactic Empire's deadliest weapon. And, as devastating it can be, the structure one of the many fascinating attributes to the Star Wars universe — who wouldn't want to see a bit more?
Is the Death Star the best evil creation seen in cinema?