Few fictional weapons of mass destruction have captured moviegoers’ imaginations like the Death Star. The orb of death is among Star Wars’ more memorable pieces of technology, in large part because it fueled the plot in the original Star Wars movie.
Few realize, however, that the Death Star was not just weapon, but also a military station, home to ship personnel including technicians. It functioned in the same way a battleship or a submarine would function.
If every nook and cranny were used, it would take 1.08 trillion homes to fill the Death Star.
We know this number can be difficult to digest. For perspective, it is the equivalent of 879 million Empire State Buildings. In fact, it makes the Boeing Everett Factory, the largest building in the world by volume, seem tiny. It would take 69,000 Boeing Everett Factories to fill the Death Star.
How Did We Do It?
To figure out how many homes would fit inside the Death Star, we needed to know a couple of things:
- The volume of the Death Star
- The volume of a house
By calculating these numbers, we were able to estimate how many typical American houses it would take to fill the Death Star to its full capacity.
A Moon-Sized Condo
How big is the Death Star? Though this might seem like a simple question, in truth it’s difficult. There were several different Death Stars to choose from, the two most famous being from the original trilogy. Of course there is also the maze that is the expanded Star Wars universe, which includes—in no particular order—novels, comics, cartoons, video games, and toys.
To make things easier we decided to stick with the movies. This left us with a choice between the murder sphere in “A New Hope” or partially constructed monster in “Return of the Jedi.”
We chose the Death Star from “A New Hope” because between the two weapons, it was “fully armed and operational.”
Moon-sized or Just Plain Moon?
Once we chose a Death Star, we needed to learn its volume. Much like the Force, there were two paths:
- Find something similar
- Find some blueprints
Some have pointed out that Mimas, one of Saturn’s seven major moons, looks uncannily similar to George Lucas’ afterlife orb. Why is this you might ask? Mimas has a large impact crater on its surface known as Herschel that gives the moon its Death-Star façade.
But with such a rich fictional universe, this didn’t seem appropriate. Instead we searched for blueprints.
According to the Star Wars: Incredible Cross-Sections, the first Death Star was 75 miles (160 kilometers) in diameter. This number gave a starting point to calculate the volume of the Death Star, or how much space is inside the sphere.
The volume of the Death Star is 220,781 cubic miles. Of course, we needed to know the volume in cubic feet. This number is about 32.5 quadrillion cubic feet.
From here we needed to figure how many houses could fit in 32.5 quadrillion cubic feet. Our initial guess? A metric shit ton.
This House is Full of Itself
Houses come in different shapes and sizes. To calculate the volume of a house, we assumed our Death Star–ready home was comprised of 2,500 square feet with 12 foot ceilings. This made the volume 30,000 cubic feet.
From here our math ninjas used high-tech abacuses to solve our quandary. This gave us our answer: 1.08 trillion homes.
Maybe someone should have told Luke before he blew up the Death Star. It’s as if a trillion homeowners cried out and were suddenly silenced.
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