Some claim this controversial aerospace project will beget an unspeakably horrific weapon. Others call it an unprecedented feat of engineering and logistics -- a kind of new hope.
Blueprints and other confidential documents recently leaked to the Web portray a space-based battle station, being referred to as the "ultimate weapon," expected to be an unprecedented feat of engineering and logistics.
Once the project's concept and design are refined, the battle station formally dubbed Death Star is expected to take approximately two to four years to construct, a huge goal for such a massive undertaking.
Much like a previous "Death Star" that was completed and subsequently destroyed, the new incarnation will be made of quadanium steel, an extremely durable metallic material.
"A quantity of metal equivalent to the mass of a small moon would have to be mined and refined, and eventually brought together," according to one resource. "No mere handful of planets could supply enough raw materials and components for a Death Star."
The people in charge of the new Death Star want to avoid the fate of the previous version, which, as a result of supply and design problems, took nearly two decades before being considered operational.
As such, resources that cannot be produced locally will be ferried to the construction site from all over the galaxy, with some of the materials shipped to the area on hundreds of ships from Coruscant-based manufacturer Xizor Transport Systems (XTS). It is unclear the amount of construction material XTS will haul, or whether the outsourcing will even be necessary.
Original plans for the battle station called for it to be approximately 120 kilometers in diameter, according to early schematics. (Other sources have claimed a value in the range of 160-165 km.) A huge equatorial trench 376 kilometers in length was to split the station into two equal hemispheres, with one area of the station alone to have housed most of the major landing bays, drive thrusters, sensor arrays and tractor beam systems, with two supplementary trenches existing halfway between the equator and each pole.
(Technical schematics for the new Death Star, developed by the cutting-edge technologists of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, were recently leaked online. Click right image for a closer look.)
The newest incarnation of this so-called "ultimate weapon," however, will be much larger, with a diameter of 800-960 kilometers, or 550 miles, according to one report.
Facilitating the Death Star's space propulsion will be a network of powerful ion engines that will transform reactor power into the needed thrust.
"The incredible energies harnessed by the station combined with its great mass [will give] the Death Star magnetic and artificial gravitational fields equal to those found on orbital bodies many times greater in size," according to a classified profile of the project.
Both iterations of the battle station were designed by engineer Bevel Lemelisk, whose previous work includes designing the Tarkin.
In the newest version of blueprints, Lemelisk has added thousands of turbolasers and eliminated a thermal exhaust port in an attempt to remove any external weaknesses or fatal design flaws. The two-meter exhaust vent that doomed the first station will be replaced with millions of millimeter-wide tubes, each designed to seal if excess energy is detected.
Weaponry and Defenses
The battle station will itself be well protected against rebels and other terrorist attacks.
"It is protected by an energy shield, which is generated from the nearby forest moon of Endor," according to one Admiral Ackbar. "The shield must be deactivated if any attack is to be attempted."
In addition to thousands of weapons emplacements scattered across the Death Star's surface, the primary weapon of the battle station will be its superlaser, which will derive power directly from a hypermatter reactor. A faceted amplification crystal will combine the destructive power of eight separate tributary beams into one single blast with the intensity of a stellar core.
Security will consist of imperial troopers.
The practical application of so many new technologies at such an unprecedented scale has already taken years of research and development.
As for actual construction, labor will likely be organized locally and performed by self-replicating automata, with massive automated construction droids expected to perform much of the work.
"Without automation and robotic labour [sic.], the assembly of a Death Star within a year would probably require trillions of technical overseers," as one insider noted. "To finish a battle station within a reasonable time using mere billions or millions of living sentient beings implies very sophisticated automation."
Moving forward, even with the benefit of droid labor, the sheer volume of human (and some say alien) effort involved is almost incomprehensible.
A project of this scale would provide a huge boost to human employment in a variety of professions: engineers, architects, electricians, mechanics, assembly workers, machinists, truck drivers and shuttle fliers, suppliers, buyers, safety managers and myriad other contractors.
(Image above-left is an artist's rendering of what this "Ultimate Weapon" is expected to look like when close to completion. Click image for source of rendering.)
Since the battle station's plans were leaked online, worker stress associated with the still-classified project has been sharply criticized. Many detractors have cited the abusive management behaviors rampant in the earlier project and its proposed iteration.
For example, after the failure of the earlier Death Star, a peculiar politician directly involved in the project, named Emperor Palpatine, unleashed on Lemelisk deadly piranha-beetles, which ate at his flesh and blinded him. The design engineer survived and was cloned by Palpatine (a.k.a., Darth Sidious) to redesign the new station.
Moreover, prior to his death in a tragic workplace explosion, Death Star mastermind Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin had been referred to by workers as both "brilliant" and "ruthless," whose methods were "merely bids to aggrandize his own status."
"These guys are case studies in bullying boss techniques," said one local union rep. "And that type of tyrannical behavior just kills employee productivity ... not to mention planets."
Indeed, to demonstrate the first Death Star's power, Tarkin destroyed an entire planet.
The most fervent backlash over the multi-galactic aerospace project comes in hindsight of the first station.
Critics argue that it didn't work out too well with the last Death Star, when the entire structure was destroyed by a farm boy and his crew "a puny band of rebels with outdated fighters," as Palpatine put it.
What happened to the first Death Star designed by Lemelisk
Nonetheless, with the new project, team leaders are proud to take part in this massive feat of engineering.
"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design," Palpatine was quoted as having said.