An example of one of the Bad Theories of Spacecraft Design.

Some flaws:

  • Its one big weapon is not easily aimable.
  • Its smaller weapons have crummy range.
  • It has one small weakness.
  • Its creators are confident in their machine.
  • The guns are manned by neither infallible machines nor smart humans, so they are bound to fail.
  • It has ridges in its surface, so that the enemy fighters can be sheilded from fire.
Any others?
Sadly, no star lives forever, and in the Stages of a Star comes a point where it explodes and turns into a 'Death Star', in cosmological terms the star is said to have turned Super Nova.

When a star dies it shines brighter than it has ever shone before and brighter than it ever will again (oh dear, I feel a song coming on...).

Death Stars are beautiful to look at and thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope you can veiw what now has become a particularly famous 'Death Star' called the Cat's Eye Nebula at -

Diameter: 160 kilometers

1 Superlaser
5,000 Turbolaser Batteries
5,000 Heavy Turbolasers
2,500 Laser Cannons
2,500 Ion Cannons
768 Tractor Beam Emplacements

Crew: 265,675
57,276 Gunners

Troop Capacity: 607,360
25,984 Stormtroopers
42,782 Starship Support Staff

Total Population: In excess of one million
Taken from a Star Wars magazine, this is the figure that includes any non-military staff, such as cooks, cleaners, people who empty out garbage compactors and the valets who park TIE Fighters.

Fighter Complement:
1831 TIE Fighters
2904 TIE Assault Craft
806 TIE Boarding Craft
1384 Scouts (Whatever these are)

Warship Complement:
6 Star Destroyers
10 Battleships
39 Heavy Cruisers
17 Light Cruisers
81 Fighter Tenders
190 Troop Transports
714 Corvettes
509 Tanker Drones

Reinforced hull plating
Multiple overlapping shield generators
Sensor jammers
(Either all this wasn't working well at Yavin or they were pretty poorly designed)

Cost: You have to be kidding

Taken from though if anyone has any more accurate figures then /msg me and I'll put them here.

Death Star

The "Death Star" was created by Dr. Evil in Austin Powers II: The Spy who shagged me as an integral part of his Alan Parsons Project.

This Death Star was in fact the Earth's moon with a "laser" placed on the surface, with a moon base in a protective bubble.
The purpose of this new Death Star was to place the weapon in such a position that it could threaten any city on planet earth, providing plenty of authority behind any ransom demand that would be made.
In typical Dr Evil fashion, the only armament on the station is a large, chrome laser with flashing red lights which has the dubious honor of also attracting midget clones.

This Death Star was ultimately destroyed by the Doctor himself before it could achieve its purpose.

Death Square = D = DEC

Death Star n.

[from the movie "Star Wars"] 1. The AT&T corporate logo, which appears on computers sold by AT&T and bears an uncanny resemblance to the Death Star in the movie. This usage is particularly common among partisans of BSD Unix, who tend to regard the AT&T versions as inferior and AT&T as a bad guy. Copies still circulate of a poster printed by Mt. Xinu showing a starscape with a space fighter labeled 4.2 BSD streaking away from a broken AT&T logo wreathed in flames. 2. AT&T's internal magazine, "Focus", uses `death star' to describe an incorrectly done AT&T logo in which the inner circle in the top left is dark instead of light -- a frequent result of dark-on-light logo images.

--The Jargon File version 4.3.1, ed. ESR, autonoded by rescdsk.

Little known fact: The Death Star in Return of the Jedi is in fact the Death Star III, not Death Star II. George Lucas himself named it the Death Star III - why, who knows? Why did he start at episode IV?
The Death Star II appears in a few Star Wars books. At a time between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, the Empire begins construction of the Death Star II, but the Rebels get word of it and destroy it in its very early stages, well before it was operational.

One day at my previous place of employment, some of my team members decided to amuse themselves by raiding my Star Wars daily calendar and removing most of the character pictures. Once they had a pool of characters to choose from, they assigned everybody's cubicle and office a character. Some people had choices (I got Darth Maul), others did not (my neighbour got Jar Jar).

Our project area sign also got a picture of the Death Star posted up for passer-bys to see. Nobody really gave it much thought until one day, the sign was altered to read...

"Thank you for shopping at Death Star. Please visit again soon!"

Now would be the time to fill you in on what our company was all about. Well, we were originally a small firm that designed Dense Wave Division Mutliplexing (DWDM) testing equipment. After about 6 months in operation, we produced a prototype of a tunable optical transmitter and that was enough to get the big guys showing up at our door with moneybags. Feeling invincible at the height of the bubble, we ended up selling our souls to one of these big companies for mostly stock.

Back to the story at hand...

From that moment on, our team was no longer the (product name here) Development Team - we were the Death Star, ready to blast the competitors to pieces in the name of the Empire!

Cut to a mere 10 months, 75% layoffs, and thousands of next-to-worthless stock later. News came that the plug was finally being pulled and that we had two weeks to wrap everything up.

During the doomsday meeting, the VP of Business Development asked if anybody had any questions. One of my colleagues asked out loud, "Why us?"

The VP paused in thought and replied...

"Well, you can't really name yourselves Death Star and not expect somebody to drop a bomb down your asshole, now can you?"

Recently, a group of physics students at the University of Leicester wrote a paper detailing the physics of the Death Star, and estimating the amount of power it would have to output if it was able, as shown in Star Wars, to be able to totally destroy a planet, turning it into nothing but rubble. The steps to finding the answer are not that complicated, since it is just finding the gravitational binding energy of the earth (or a similarly-sized terrestrial planet) and then concluding that the Death Star must be able to fire at least that much energy.

Which, of course, leads to other questions. There are several questions about the physics of the Death Star that need to be answered. According to figures I have read on the Star Wars wiki, the two Death Stars we see in the films were 160 km and 900 kms in diameter, therefore it is likely that they would produce enough internal gravity that the normal structural strength of steel or other alloys would fail. However, since the Star Wars universe possesses artificial gravity, it seems that they would also possess artificial anti-gravity. So this is a rather minor problem to hand wave away.

Two issues more directly related to the power output problem are fuel consumption and gravitational tidal forces. According to the paper, the energy output of the Death Star is on the order 10^32 Joules. The most efficient (known) energy production source is the annihilation of matter and anti-matter, and to produce that amount of energy, about 10^12 tons of anti-matter (and matter) would have to be annihilated every time the Death Star fires its main weapon. This would amount to carrying around several cubic kilometers of anti-matter per shot. However, the Death Star instead uses hypermatter reactors which are a form of unobtanium. Another issue that I briefly considered is that the beam of energy that the Death Star sends out would be energetically dense enough to create tidal forces on nearby bodies. Energy has a gravitational field, and an energy beam that was narrow and energetic enough would create tidal forces, as it pulled more strongly at nearby objects than at ones further away. I was thinking of doing the math for this, but I realized that there is a much more obvious physical problem.

Each time the Death Star fires, it creates a beam strong enough to destroy the earth, an amount of energy that is, at a conservative estimate, something like a million times stronger than the entire energy reserves of the earth's fossil fuels. As much energy as the sun radiates in a month. All of it being channeled through the electrical system and conduits of a space ship, that while large, is still a million times smaller than a star. Since the beam only fires for a few seconds, it is dealing with all that energy in a much smaller space and time. There is no heat sink or cooling method that could possibly prevent some of that energy from leaking out and turning the entire base into slag. There is no electrical wiring that could carry that much energy, and even a system of mirrors and light would shatter. In other words, the biggest impossibility in the Death Star, from a physics standpoint, is from the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Of course, one of the assumptions about this is that the Death Star's weapon simply outputs enough energy to destroy a planet. It could also be that it only acts as the trigger for a chain reaction. Perhaps there is some technology that speeds up the natural radioactive decay inside a planet, or maybe the weapon temporarily suspends gravity, causing the planet to blow itself apart.

An even more important possibility to be examined is that Star Wars is not a science-fiction movie, but rather a fantasy in space, and if you watch Return of the Jedi and spend more time thinking about the physics of the Death Star than Princess Leia in a metal bikini, you are totally missing the point.

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