The US government has recently turned down a petition signed by over 34,000 people to construct what it describes as a “space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star”. The White House is under an obligation to respond to all petitions which receive more than 25,000 signatures through the website, We The People.
The petition claimed that the construction of a Death Star would be a major boost to the economy with regards to job creation; however, they overlooked the astronomically high cost of the production.
The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost in excess of 850 quadrillion dollars ($850,000,000,000,000,000); unfortunately, not a financially viable project given the current economic climate.
Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, responded to the petition in good humour, entitling the reply as “This isn’t the Petition Response you’re looking for.”
He goes on to state that there is already something floating around in the sky, saying “that’s no moon” in reference to the International Space Station.
Reasons such as “why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?” and “the Administration does not support blowing up planets” were also cited.
Shawcross then mentions how rovers on Mars and astronauts living on the International Space Station are paving the way for future space travel.
He promotes science, engineering and mathematical careers, as these jobs may one day lead to what is currently classed as science fiction becoming a reality.
Consider that A trip to the Moon, the 1902 film by Georges Méliès (as seen in Hugo) was seen as science fiction at the time and yet, a mere 67 years later, on July 20th 1969 Man walked on the moon.
Eight years later, Star War Episode IV: A New Hope was released, and less than 36 years have passed since its release. Who knows what the world will be in another few decades; maybe we’ll have interstellar travel and the ability to re-grow body parts.
Or maybe not, however the frontiers of science are forever moving forward and will continue to do in ways that will surely shock and surprise all of us.
The White House, on the other hand, has made a change, stating on 15th January that a minimum of 100,000 individual signatures were now needed for a petition to receive an official response, a number quadruple what was required for the “Death Star” response.