White House Says No to Death Star

White House Says No to Death Star

Paul Shawcross, Branch Chief for Science and Space at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), accepted the challenge to respond to the “We the People” petition to build a Death Star.

The Obama White House initiated the We the People petition opportunities to make the White House more accessible to the people.  Anyone 13 or older can petition the White House for action on a range of topics and if 25,000 signatures are obtained within 30 days, the White House promises a response.

Most of the topics are serious, but someone proposed that the United States begin construction of a Death Star by 2016, a reference to the fictional super-weapon in the Star Wars movies.

Shawcross, often criticized for any White House budget decision that doesn’t go NASA’s way, authored the response and shows that OMB does, in fact, have a sense of humor.  The semi-serious riposte, entitled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For,” says that a Death Star isn’t in the cards not only because of its phenomenal cost — Shawcross links to a Lehigh University estimate that it would cost $852,000,000,000,000,000 — but because the administration does not support blowing up planets or building super-weapons that are so easily vulnerable to destruction.

More seriously, he points to the reality that we have an International Space Station, two robots — one laser-wielding — on Mars, two spacecraft on their way out of the solar system (Voyager 1 and 2), and a myriad of other nifty space activities ongoing.

Shawcross ends by encouraging readers to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields and then “the Force will be with us!”


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