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Space

White House shoots down Death Star petition

The US has no plans to construct a technological terror as depicted by George Lucas in the Star Wars saga, disappointing nearly 35,000 petition signatories. The White House responded using the wittier side of the Force.

The White House dashed the hopes of 34,435 Star Wars fans by rejecting a petition for the US to construct a "Death Star," the planet-sized destroyer of worlds featured in the earlier trio of Star Wars films.

Top White House science and space official Paul Shawcross published an amusing response to the public request entitled "This Isn't the Petition Response You're Looking For," one of several references to the cinema classics.

"The administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn't on the horizon," the statement said, subsequently offering three reasons against the proposed project.

"The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it," Shawcross wrote.

He also said that the "Administration does not support blowing up planets," with the Death Star obliterating Princess Leia's home of Alderaan in the film "Star Wars: A New Hope."

Then, in a reference to the same film, Shawcross asked "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"

'We're living in the future!'

The White House subsequently lists a series of real-life space projects, including the International Space Station ("That's no moon, it's a space station!"), NASA's Mars Rover, the planned Hubble Telescope successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, and efforts to build Star Wars-esque robotic arms, floating droids and quadruped walking robots.

"We're living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a careers in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field," Shawcross advised, in a rare moment without his tongue in cheek.

One of the fake Darth Vader accounts on Twitter noted the news by lamenting, "The White House rejected the petition to build a Death Star, I find their lack of faith disturbing."

Still, Shawcross finished his official response with a separate quote from the infamous villain voiced by James Earl Jones, reminding fans of George Lucas' films: "Remember, the Death Star's power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force."

The White House accepts petitions on any issue, and responds to any that reach a threshold of 25,000 signatures, provided they are deemed not to breach certain security and law-enforcement criteria.

msh/sej (Reuters)