By Richard Bruce BA, MA, and PhC in Economics

I read on the Internet that the diameter of the first Death Star, from the first *Star Wars* movie that came out, *A New Hope*, was 140 to 160 kilometers. The second Death Star from the Return of the Jedi was estimated to be even bigger.

Taking even the the lower estimate for the first and smaller Death Star this is insanely large. It was big enough to have floor space roughly equal to the surface of the earth, including the oceans. If it had housed people with the same amount of housing space enjoyed by the people today in developed nations it could have housed trillions.

To grasp how big the interior of the first Death Star was supposed to be we need to calculate the volume. To do this we use the formula for the volume of a sphere, four thirds times pi times the radius cubed.

v = 4/3 pi r^{3}

The minimum estimated size of the diameter for the first Death Star was once again 140 kilometers, the radius is half that 70 kilometers, or 70 thousand meters.

Plugging this into our formula we get about 1.4 quadrillion cubic meters. A quadrillion is a thousand billion, or one followed by fifteen zeros.

Given this there are about 479 trillion square meters of floor space. Figure about five quadrillion square feet. This is slightly less than the surface of earth, including the oceans.

According to estimates I found on the Internet there were 1.7, million personnel on the first Death Star. If we split the floor space up into rooms, ten square meters or 100 square feet each, the Death Star would have about 50 trillion rooms. So there would be about 30 million rooms per person.

If they wandered around at random from room to room at the rate of one per minute they would meet on average less than two people in an eighty year life time.

If they decided to fully populate the Death Star, turn it into a giant city in space, it could accommodate ten trillion people at five small rooms, 50 square meters, or 500 square feet per person. That is more than a thousand times the population of earth, and about five thousand times the population of Alderann, Princess Leia's home planet that the Death Star destroyed.

If we use the same somewhat arbitrary standard of 50 square meters per person, the Death Star would need a radius of about 393 meters, a diameter of about 787 meters, to accommodate the estimated 1.7 million military personal on the death star. Note that is less than a kilometer.

A sphere big enough to provide 50 square meters each for the earth's population would need a radius of a little over 6.3 kilometers, about 12.6 kilometers diameter.

Last edited September 15, 2015