We were just about to go to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters when we spotted bad news for all the Sith Lords out there.
An online petition requesting that the U.S. government begin construction on a Death Star by 2016 was submitted to the White House in November, making a case for the interplanetary super-weapon by saying it would “spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.”
More than 34,000 people signed on, but the White House shut down the idea cold as Hoth. Actually, the Obama administration was a pretty good sport about the outlandish proposal.
“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon,” Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the official reply.
Shawcross noted that construction would cost an estimated $850,000,000,000,000,000 and questioned the wisdom of spending “countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.”
In turn, fans of the idea issued a mock press release bemoaning the White House’s refusal to build a moon-sized, killer space station capable of blowing up planets.
The Death Star proposal was submitted through the “We the People” section of WhiteHouse.gov, which allows visitors to create petitions on a variety of issues. The feature gained widespread media attention in the wake of the 2012 presidential election when several petitions were launched by Obama critics requesting permission to secede from the Union. Counter petitions were created asking that those critics be deported.
The Obama administration has said it will provide an official response to all petitions that reach a certain number of signatures. That quantity was originally set at 5,000, then raised to 25,000. This week the White House increased the signature requirement to 100,000 in 30 days, citing exponential growth in the number of petitions and signees.
Macon Phillips, White House director of digital strategy, notes that in the final two months of 2012, some 73,000 petitions were created and 4.9 million signatures were registered.
“As we’ve seen overall use skyrocket, more petitions are crossing the threshold — and doing so much more quickly,” Phillips writes. “It’s wonderful to see so many people using ‘We the People’ to add their voices to important policy debates here in Washington and bring attention to issues that might not get the attention they deserve.”
So, no Death Star. How about appropriating funds to build some imperial AT-ATs for mass transit?