Okay, we like to gripe about the outrageous cost of developing the F-35 and the USS Milwaukee, but that price tag is just peanuts compared to what the Pentagon would have to pay to develop a fully functional Death Star–$300 quintillion.

How many zeroes is that?


Vice sat down with Jamie Morin of the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation team to figure out how big of a budget the military would need for a Death Star.

Historically, we have seen operations costs for our major systems come in roughly between 50 and 70 percent of the total cost of buying and maintaining that system, with ships generally coming in at the top of that range. If we think of the Death Star as a ship, and we accept the previously published $193 quintillion acquisition cost estimate, then $300 quintillion might be in the right range for a lifecycle cost estimate. However, it’s important to note that lifecycle cost estimates for weapons systems depend heavily on how long you intend to keep that system in your inventory. Based on the Empire’s past experience, they may not want to assume that they can keep their orbital battle stations around very long.

The Star Wars franchise as been inescapable since it premiered in 1977, so we’re sure you’re familiar with the giant planet-destroying ball in the sky. As both the crowning jewel of the Empire’s fighting force and the base of its operations, the Death Star was used to blast apart planets and pressure the galaxy to bend to the Empire’s will.

But as Morin points out, the Death Star isn’t the unbeatable ship it pretends to be. It was destroyed in the first movie by a ragtag group of fighter pilots in the infamous trench run. It was then rebuilt, only to be destroyed again. Given how easily the Death Star exploded into a fiery ball of shrapnel, perhaps the Pentagon could save a couple quintillion.

In 2013, the White House rejected a petition demanding that the United States build a working Death Star for the same reasons, though its price estimates were a bit lower and Morin’s.

– 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?