Supply Management: Operating a Death Star

Star Wars, George Lucas’ saga, has been revived lately with a new series of films. The next one of them “Rogue One” is about to come to theatres this December. The storyline will be centred around the trademark object of the Star Wars galaxy – a lethal weapon of planetary destruction with a rather self-explanatory name Death Star.

Of course, the connection between the Death Star and supply management does not seem entirely obvious. However, this iconic symbol of the space saga has been so popular among people that in 2013 a group of people filed a petition to the US government to start building this space object. To give an answer to this petition (naturally, a negative one) the US government did the actual calculation of costs to build and operate such an object, which included supply management, as well. In this article, I will briefly touch upon them.

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First of all, to build a Death Star, mankind would need to figure out how to transport more than 1000 quadrillion tons of iron into space. Merely extracting it from the Earth would take more than 800,000 years and cost 13,000 more than the world’s GDP. To operate the spaceship, one will need 1,200,000 people, excluding employees responsible for cleaning and catering. Speaking of the latter, to feed the employees a supply manager of the Death Star would need to procure more than 2,000,000 tons of food and more than 257,000,000 liters of water per year. And this only includes drinking water, excluding bathing and sanitation needs. Given that an average person consumes 3 cups of tea per day, the spaceship supply manager will need to ensure the delivery of more than 1,300,000,000 tea bags per year.

The numbers certainly indicate that it is currently impossible to build and operate such a huge object. However, given a fast pace of technological development that pertains to logistics and supply management, as well, we might see something similar in the real life some (probably, rather distant) time in the future. For now, those, who signed the petition to build the Death Star, have nothing but to enjoy its stunning views on cinema screens.


Written by: Aliaksei Savin

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