I know a whole bunch of you are going to be up in arms about this, but I stand my claims here: the Death Star sucks, and here are 5 reasons why.

The Death Star pre-Yavin.
AKA: Mimas back when it was fully operational.

Bur first, let’s go over some stats. The 1st Death Star was a battle station built by the Galactic Empire as a superweapon for blowing up planets. It was officially called the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station. Most people just called it the 1st Death Star though.

A Corellian corvette did die though.
Fortunately, no Bothan spies died to get these plans.

It was first used at Jedha, where it destroyed Jedha City and about a quarter of the moon it was on using a single-reactor superlaser beam. It was then used to destroy the Imperial facility on Scarif in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Death Star’s blueprints from being leaked to the galaxy. Finally, it was destroyed during the Battle of Yavin, when a single Force-sensitive farm boy flying a X-wing somehow managed to blow it up.

No second guesses here.
Terry Pratchett: “Million-to-one chances…crop up nine times out of ten.”

Now that you’re all up to speed on what it was, now I’ll tell you why it sucks so badly.

1. Financial Cost Of The Death Star

We currently don’t know exactly how much it cost to build the 1st Death Star. The best information we have is that construction costs exceeded 1 trillion galactic credits.

1 trillion dollars compared to a random boi.
Not exactly credits, but close enough.

Does this seem like a meaningless number right now? Let’s put it this way: an Imperial II-class star destroyer costs 150 million credits to build. This means that the money used to build one Death Star could’ve built 6,666 Imperial II-class star destroyers, with change to spare.

Many is better than 1 Death Star.
I’d take this over a single Death Star any day.

I remind you, just the Death Star’s construction costs were over 1 trillion credits. There’s still the support costs: the costs of the Death Star’s daily fuel intake, the costs of the crew’s wages, the costs of the food and water needed to feed the crew, etc.. While I can’t find any concrete information on what a stormtrooper’s wages are, keep in mind that the Death Star had 25,984 stormtroopers serving on it. Even assuming that stormtroopers are paid twice a month like soldiers in real life, those wages would add up pretty quickly. And I would advise the Empire not to not pay their stormtroopers, otherwise…

Stormtroopers on strike.
Stormtroopers after the Imperial pay ship was late again.

Let’s see Lord Vader try Force-choking 26 thousand stormtroopers all at once.

2. Resource Cost

It’s not just the costs in terms of money that we have to worry about. It’s also the costs in terms of construction material. We know that the Death Star’s outer hull was made of quadanium steel plates, but we still don’t know what the Death Star’s interior is made of. All we know is: there’s a lot of it.

That’s a lot of steel.

While we don’t know the mass of the Death Star, we can make calculations based on its volume. The Death Star has a volume of 17.16 quadrillion cubic meters. Assuming that 90% of its volume is empty space like in real life ships, it’d still take 1.71 quadrillion cubic meters of steel, which amounts to 134 quadrillion metric tons of the stuff. To give you an idea of just how much steel that is: Earth’s global steel production is about 1.3 billion tons annually. This means that for us, it’d take over a million years to produce enough steel for a Death Star, assuming that Earth even has that much iron in the first place.

The logic of the Death Star's construction bein debated.
Vader: “Master, how many planets did we have to strip mine to get this much steel this quickly?”
Sidious: “All of them.”

Even leaving aside the negative impacts this would have on those worlds being mined (ecological, economical, you name it), all of that steel still would’ve been better off building a fleet of star destroyers. A similar site gave a star destroyer’s mass as 4.44 billion kg. If you run the calculations, you realize that the Death Star is made up of enough steel to build over 30 billion star destroyers.

Rey contemplates the salvage value of the 2nd Death Star.
Rey: “So much steel scrap…”

I really do think 30 billion star destroyers would’ve been a better use of that steel than one measly Death Star.

3. Manpower Onboard

The Death Star had a crew. We saw some of them running around manning guns, controlling the superlaser, dying in random explosions, etc.. Those were only a tiny fraction of its crew though. There were a lot more than that.

Remember the Death Star!
Remember Yavin IV!

The Death Star had anywhere from 1,186,295 to 1,206,293 crewmembers on board at the time of its destruction. Of that number: 342,953 were Imperial Navy and Army garrison troopers, and 25,984 were stormtroopers. No matter how you look at it, that’s a lot of people who died that day.

Death Star memorial day.
Our Lord Vader remembering the fallen.

But regardless, those 1.2 million crew would’ve been far better put to use manning star destroyers. Canon tells us that Imperial II-class star destroyers had a crew of 46,750. Running the numbers tells us that the Death Star’s complement could’ve crewed 25 Imperial II star destroyers, with crewmembers to spare for odds and ends. It’s much lower than the other figures, but I’d still rather take 25 ISDs over 1 battle station.

4. Size Of The Death Star

The Death Star is a 160 km wide sphere. This is pretty big for a man-made object.

The Death Star eclipses Florida.
Just another day in Florida.

But not so big when you compare it with even the smallest moons and dwarf planets.

The Death Star feels small.
Small fish in a big pond?

Regardless of its actual size though, it’s a huge target. A 160 km wide sphere is nearly impossible to miss. You could literally fling asteroids at this thing, and unless you’re Greedo, you’d be hitting it 99% of the time.

Death Star feels big again!
Big fish in a small pond now!

Meanwhile, an Imperial II-class star destroyer is only 1.6 km long. Guess which one is harder to hit? Give me a ship that can actually dodge, thank you very much.

5. Flexibility

There is only one Death Star. Well, there was only one Death Star that briefly became many smaller incomplete Death Stars, but that’s beside the point.

Many little Death Stars going really fast.
Yavin IV probably got a lot of very small Death Stars raining down on it.

A Death Star can only be in one place at a time. A single Death Star can thus only threaten one world at a time. Sure, the Death Star can just obliterate every world it stops by, but then it the Galactic Empire would very quickly cease to exist. Or at the very least, it’d go bankrupt from the countless lawsuits being filed against it.

Death Star vs. lawyer.
This is why blowing up your own worlds is a Bad Idea.

Thus, a Death Star’s power projection is very limited. Meanwhile, the Empire operated over 25,000 star destroyers at the height of their power. Granted, the Empire ruled 1.5 million worlds at the time, so even this large number of Star Destroyers seems inadequate. Even so, 25 thousand star destroyers would be much better at holding that many worlds compared to a single one.


Imperial Advisor: “My Emperor, please stop building Death Stars. Just build more star destroyers. It’d be a much better use of the Empire’s resources. Heck, even Nazi Germany tossed out their landcruiser plans on the basis of them being too insane to build!”

The Nazi Death Star.
Landkreuzer P. 1500 Monster: the Ur-Death Star.

Sidious: “What’s a Nazi Germany?”

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