I love the Internet so much. America’s netizens have demanded that President Obama consider building the legendary Star Wars Death Star and the White House has responded. Unsurprisingly, they have thoughtfully rejected the request, claiming it would cost an estimated $850,000,000,000,000,000 and that “the administration does not support blowing up planets.” The White House was forced to offer an official response to arguably the silliest question in American history since the petition garnered the requisite 25K signatures on the WeThePeople petitioning system.
After a groundswell of media attention cast a spotlight on the administration’s delayed response to the petition, the good folks in the executive branch finally coughed up an equally silly blog post, “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.”
“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon,” wrote Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. In addition to a reasonable aversion for mass genocide, Shawcross worried that the costly weapon has a well-known vulnerability. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?”
The White House did exploit the soon-to-be viral blog post to plug the administration’s own space agenda, including the International Space Station and the mars rover. We are aware this post conveniently doubles as a very clever marketing gimmick, but it’s too deliciously silly not to report (it also speaks to the oddities that the government must deal with when they experiment with open government initiatives).
Finally, we get the feeling that the super-geeky blog post was a labor of love. “Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force,” concluded Shawcross.
Read the full post below:
“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?
However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky — that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts — American, Russian, and Canadian — living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs — one wielding a laser — roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo — and soon, crew — to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget“