The Death Star in a scene from Star Wars : Episode IV
The White House has provided a detailed response to petitions calling for construction of a "Death Star" for national defense, but it boils down to one word: No.
For one thing, a Death Star is estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000, writes White House official Paul Shawcross.
"We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it," adds Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch with the White House Office of Management and Budget.
When the White House set up its petition website, it pledged to respond to any requests that received more than 25,000 signatures.
More than 34,000 people seconded a Star Wars-themed petition to construct a Death Star by 2016, so that "the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense."
In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek response -- entitled "This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For" -- Shawcross writes:
"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?"
Shawcross also noted that the U.S. already finances 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."
David Jackson, USA TODAY