A NASA Engineer Explains How to Build a Death Star

Looking to build a moon-sized space station of your own one day? Then you’ll want to hear this helpful tip from NASA’s Brian Muirhead as he discusses giant technological terrors, the best way to fly through an asteroid field, and how NASA itself is (slowly) catching up to the tech of Star Wars.


[Via Wired]

Contact the author at rob@io9.com.

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Star Wars Nerd Alert:

Addendum to the NASA dude (cuz, y’know, this may be the one area I’m more knowledgeable than he.) (Suck it, NASA dude!)

Atmospheric flight in Star Wars is largely accomplished by anti-gravity tech, called repulsorlift technology. This coil-based system is present in everything from speeder bikes to some capital class ships (for instance, the late Republic, early Imperial era Victory I-class Star Destroyers).

As one would expect, a skilled pilot or an advanced computer-assisted flight system can take advantage of this lift as a form of thrust for maneuvering. The benefit is that it does not require standard physics thrust (ergo, fuel/energy consumption is probably optimum and thrust ports are not necessary) as it is, as the name implies, a repulsing energy field much like magnets. The drawback is that it requires a mass to repulse from (old EU differs on occasion regarding the ability to push an object away vs interacting with innate gravity fields) and is relatively useless in outer space.

So, while the Falcon is certainly using its rear main engine for forward propulsion, it is not really relying on standard aerodynamics for atmospheric maneuvering. The engines provide main forward thrust, the repulsorlift provides, well, lift, and in tandem with its vectoring jets (seen best in landing in Cloud City, ESB), these three systems are the key to its agility in atmospheric flight.

Also, the Millennium Falcon (modified YT-1300) has fusion engines, not ion engines. Though it seems this may no longer being confirmed in canon, since the Great EU Purge of 2014.

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PS: More funding for NASA! And the CSA!