While Star Wars is a piece of science fiction (or fantasy depending on who you ask), the dedicated fanbase always finds creative ways to imagine Star Wars elements in the real world. Now a group of Star Wars enthusiasts have asked themselves a heavy-hitting question: What would it cost to build a real AT-AT walker?
For those of you who unfamiliar with these vehicles, AT-AT walker stands for All Terrain-Armored Transport and they are some of the most deadly machines created by the Empire. These walkers were made famous in The Empire Strikes Back during the Battle of Hoth. Though the Rebels fought bravely and learned how to trip the AT-ATs using harpoons and toe-cables, they were overwhelmed by the Empire's forces and eventually lost the base.
While these walkers are set to appear once again in this year’s Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the team over at Best Casino have decided the time has come to uncover what the actual price-tag for one of these walking behemoths would be.
Their results? After a fair amount of research, the team approximated the total cost to be $226.5 million. Furthermore, it looks like they were able to come to that number because the technology to create one of these sci-fi weapons actually exist.
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The most sci-fi part of the AT-AT is by far the lasers it uses to shoot at enemies. Modern society has such lasers, like the ones currently in use on the USS Ponce, which the government calls LaWS (Laser Weapons System). The AT-AT's front lasers would require more power. The closest comparison we have for a laser of that magnitude would be the ATHENA (Advanced Test High Energy Asset) which is developed by Lockheed Martin. All of these lasers would cost roughly $72 million.
Armor & Engines
As far as the entire heavy armor on the walker is concerned, the strongest armor closest to the AT-AT walker can be found on the American M1 Abrams tank. This armor has a fantastic power-to-weight ratio, making it ideal for this type of Imperial walker. After measuring the height and width of the machine, the total costs would range upwards of $146 million. Taking up half of an AT-AT's building budget.
The team points out the gas turbo engines located in the M1 Abrams tank and suggest they could be used as the leg joints and motor of an AT-AT. Cost of those? Around $8.5 million.
Lastly, you can’t forget to pay the stormtroopers who pilot and operate the machine right? Combining the total number of salaries between three stormtroopers (that’s one gunner, one pilot, and one commander), would cost an annual salary of around $192,000. That number is, of course, chump change when compared to everything else that needed to make this machine complete.
What Else Could We Make?
You didn't think fans hadn't estimated other costs for Star Wars inventions, did you? While the AT-AT is one of the strongest mobile machines of the Empire, two of their most well-known structures are the Imperial Star Destroyer and, of course, the Death Star. So what would they cost?
Kynan Eng, over at Quora, did some research regarding a total cost for one Imperial Star Destroyer. Though Eng removed all of the unnecessary, i.e. impossible, calculations such as hyperdrives, tractor beams, force field shields, and artificial gravity generators, and still he came up with the crazy price tag of $636 billion. That number doesn’t even include the price to take all of those components to space which he calculates would be roughly $44.4 trillion!
Without going into some of the crazier math it took to find these numbers, Eng was able to find out the cost in size, volume, and mass to build this Star Destroyer using real world objects such as the largest cruise liner in the world named the Allure of the Seas, the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, and the International Space Station.
In his article, Eng makes mention of other resources made or found on this planet, like the afore mentioned ATHENA laser, for the Star Destroyer's weapons. They include the NASA Evolutionary Ion Thruster (NEXT) and the Lockheed Martin F-22, both which would come in handy for the destroyer's engines, as well as the Falcon Heavy, the largest and cheapest commercial rocket ever made, to make light of the space transfer costs.
Steep prices for sure but nothing compared to the moolah necessary to create the Empire's greatest weapon: the Death Star.
The Cost To Destroy Stars & Planets
Last but not least is the incredible moon-shaped battle station known as the Death Star. This enormous machine would take many years to construct and LOTS and LOTS of cash to bring it to life. Cheyenne Macdonald over at Dailymail.com came across a professor majoring in electrical and systems engineering at Washington University in St. Louis named Dr. Zachary Feinstein. Dr. Feinstein did his own calculations and deduced that it would cost somewhere around $419 quintillion to completely build a fully functioning Death Star.
Feinstein did these calculations based on the Gross Domestic Product — or the "Gross Galactic Product" in Star Wars terms. Feinstein referenced the previously mentioned marvels of modern technology and also factored in how much steel was used to create the USS Gerald Ford and how much that steel cost: $17.5 billion. A little math on the circumference of the Death Star and voila, $419 quintillion dollars. Lucky for all, we've already seen the Death Star doesn't even have to be fully operational to pack a punch. Maybe there's room for cutting corners.
Clearly we have no need for intergalactic weaponry (yet), but it's fun to imagine what it will cost in the future to engage in star wars. Additionally, kudos to those who actually took the time to do the research and apply real math and science to come up with these unbelievable numbers. For those caught up in the thought of it all, at least we'll get to see Star Destroyers and AT-AT's come December 16 when Rogue One hits screens.
What do you think of these calculations? Think we should start saving our pennies? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!