That's no moon! It's an $850 quadrillion space station that can destroy an entire planet! Or at least, that was the idea, until The White House shot it down.
In an incredibly fun and smart response to a fan petition for the U.S. government to build a Death Star as seen (and blown up twice) in the Star Wars saga, President Obama's administration politely shot the idea down a few weeks ago - so to speak - in a way aimed to promote science and tech, specifically interest in advancement of space exploration and the work NASA does. But as a response to that response, a crowdsourcing initiative began on Kickstarter for us regular folk to "build it ourselves." And now, as a response to that response to a response, there's a campaign to construct a squadron of X-Wings to defend us from that threat. Thank you, Disney.
By acquiring Lucasfilm in October and simultaneously announcing plans to launch a new Star Wars trilogy (episodes 7-9) beginning in 2015, Disney has done a lot more than get movie geeks speculation about the future, but they've already begun getting the brand back into every facet of pop culture.
The original petition on We The People from November 14th went like this:
Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.
By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.
More like galactic offense.
Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, offered the official White House response in mid-January as an explanation for why replicating what the Galactic Empire tried to accomplish may not be a sound plan:
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?
A one-man starship you say? That's exactly what the latest crazy Kickstarter initiative wants to realize. While the "Open Source Death Star" Kickstarter aims to raise £20,000,000 to develop plans for the space station's construction (and enough chicken wire to protect its exhaust ports), the "Rebel Alliance X-Wing Squadron" Kickstarter hopes to raise a more reasonable $11 million to construct a single X-Wing prototype and train one pilot.
The stretch goals are worth a smile for those who know their Star Wars spacecraft:
Stretch Goal 1:
$4,485,672,683: That's the world-wide box office total for all of the films (+ The Clone Wars). We figure we can build up an X-Wing squadron for that. We'll be taking applications for Rebel fighter pilots after we reach our Stretch Goal.
Stretch Goal 2:
13 million Galactic Standard Credits: A Class YT-1300 Freighter (heavily modified) and a crew consisting of a Corellian smuggler and a Wookie co-pilot.
Stretch Goal 3:
One of our Backers / Rebel Comrades wisely suggested adding another stretch goal to include a prototype Y-Wing Bomber. So, if we reach $23,000,000, which is reportedly the production cost of the Empire Strikes Back, we'll also build a prototype BTL-B Y-Wing heavy starfighter / bomber to help clear the path for the X-Wing to do its thing.
At the time of this writing, they only need around $10.8 million more within the next 47 days to get the first X-Wing into production! As an experienced X-Wing Alliance gamer, I nominate myself as that pilot.
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P.S. Both Kickstarter campaigns are joke funding initiatives. Enjoy it.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes if you dig Star Wars movies and games.