The Blockbuster Costs of Real Star Wars Death Stars, Spaceships and More!
As we eagerly await this week’s release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, we’ve been thinking about how the way you watch a movie—or entire movie franchise—can drastically change as you get older.
As a kid, watching Star Wars was all about spaceships, grand adventures and using laser swords to battle an evil, asthmatic cyborg. But as an adult, you start noticing things in the films that may have breezed right past you before.
For instance, you might wonder how anyone in these movies is able to afford the spaceships they’re constantly jetting around in. They make a lot of jokes about the Millennium Falcon being a piece of junk, which probably means that it costs a small fortune to maintain. No wonder Han Solo took the reward money at the end of A New Hope. That man’s got bills!
And what about the Death Star, hmm? A space station that’s the size of a freaking moon? Emperor Palpatine had to become a shadowy dictator, because there is no way that project was making it through a Galactic Senate Budget Committee. So we wondered, if we were to try and build the Death Star today, how much would it actually cost?
Lucky for us, we have this little thing called “the internet,” where no question is too weird to go unanswered. We did some snooping and found estimated costs for The Death Star, a Star Destroyer, an AT-AT, and even, yes, The Millennium Falcon. Enjoy!
Death Star – $852,000,000,000,000,000
Yup. That’s right. 15 zeroes. It might come as a surprise, but building a space station the size of a moon plus a giant laser capable of blowing up a planet is an expensive endeavor. So expensive, in fact, that it would cost 852 quadrillion dollars, or over 7,000 times the yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the entire world!
These calculations were made by the good folks at Centives, an economics blog started by students at Lehigh University, and their original post has some really fantastic insights. For instance, they calculate that the amount of iron found in the earth’s molten core would be enough to build 2 million Death Stars.
However, the post also points out the fact that, based on the current rate of worldwide steel production, building a single Death Star would take over 800,000 years. So if you’re planning on building one, pack some snacks. It’s going to be a long wait.
Star Destroyer – $636,000,000,000
Aircraft carriers provide a really handy reference point when calculating the cost of a giant spaceship and/or Death Star. After all, aircraft carriers are already massive floating fortresses, so the basic amount of materials used to build one can be easily scaled up to match the size of a much larger vessel.
And wow is the Star Destroyer a much, much larger vessel. According to Quora contributor Kynan Eng, it would be approximately 44.4 the times of a Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier. Since those aircraft carriers cost around 10.44 billion each, a Star Destroyer would cost an estimated $464 billion.
And that’s the cost for Star Destroyers that can’t really do anything: no turbolasers, no engines, not even any electricity. It’s those extra costs that bump the total cost up to $636 billion.
One thing those estimate don’t account for is the cost of actually getting the Star Destroyer into space. Warning: It ain’t cheap. Eng estimates that, using current technology for space travel, moving the Star Destroyer parts off-world would cost about 44.4 trillion. So yeah, start saving those pennies.
Millennium Falcon – $2,662,896,238
This estimate comes courtesy of a spectacular infographic from Twizzle.
And that’s all we’re going to say. Because we think you should check out the full infographic. Trust us. You’ll be happy you did.
AT-AT – $196,000,000
This estimate comes to us again from Kynan Eng. And while the price tag is still pretty astronomical, Eng also starts his post with some good news:
“…the AT-AT is one of the few Star Wars vehicles that can be built using today’s technologies, creating jobs for working families today. It would also be completely useless from a military viewpoint, but that doesn’t matter because it is way cool and impressive.”
We couldn’t agree more. Using AT-AT dimensions from Wookieepedia (if you’re not familiar with that site, it’s exactly what you think it is) and comparing them to the cost of various heavy-duty vehicles, Eng estimates a total cost of $196 million for the AT-AT.
This is actually achievable, people. Someone start a GoFundMe!
So, there you have it, running a Galactic dictatorship—or rebelling against one—isn’t cheap. When you’re in the theater this weekend checking out the latest addition to the Star Wars saga, maybe you’ll have a new appreciation for the Empire. Sure, they’re undeniably the worst, but somewhere deep in their ranks they’ve got an amazing finance department. Give those goons a raise!