TL;DR Launching a fully operational Death Star into space & bringing a piece of you with me.
Hello World! My name is Blaze Sanders. I’m an ex-NASA engineer, and I love Star Wars. Clearly. I’ll be launching a miniature yet fully operational Death Star into space (100 km) above Earth. You can guess what happens once they’re in space...
WAIT. WHAT?! WHY?!
- Are you causing more orbital debris?
- LASER in space, is that legal...?
- How much does rocket launch cost to get into space?
- Why, this is a huge waste of money!?!?
A full scale Death Star is completely impractical. The cost for a full scale 120 km diameter Death Star (DS-1) would be ~$850 quadrillion (by estimate of this government proposal).
Turns out a 10 cm (3.93 inch) scale model is not only practical, but doable! This has been on my bucket list for years and I’m finally going for it (see Medium story)! It’s a celebration of Star Wars through and through, with the campaign ending on the weekend of May the 4th and the Death Star returning to Earth for the premiere of Star Wars Episode IX (SQUEEE!)
Press Release with HD Photos & Videos: www.deathstarinspace.com/presskit
Note: Non-English and deaf Earthlings please see video script text at bottom of page. We would love help improving our closed captions and translating into Russia and Spanish :)
At the core of our Death Star is a space tolerant printed circuit board (PCB), complete with a 0.150 Watt LASER (8 Watts if we reach our stretch goals!). The internal PCB's will be etched and then gold-plated with Kickstarter backer names onto either a Jedi blue, Ahsoka Tano white, or Sith red PCB at the core of the space station.
Everything is packed in a heat resistant, flame retardant ULTEM 9085 3D printed spherical shell (Aluminium if we meet our stretch goals!). Once in orbit, multiple ‘Alderaan's’ will be released, the LASER will power up, and we’ll demonstrate the power of the Empire. Fear, then, will keep the local systems in line. Before Dec 20, 2019 (Star Wars Episode IX premiere date) one lucky backer will receive the Death Star after its parachute landing in New Mexico.
We are making the suborbital PCB's space tolerate by using Roger 4003 based PCB material, thermal spreaders, dual solder mask color, via paste fill, tin-whisker free solder chemistry, and thermally conductive vibration proofing epoxy. This is in preparation for a six month mission to low earth orbit (LEO), another one of our stretch goals.
If you want to construct your own battle station for a STEM outreach project, we have already open sourced bug filled hardware and software at www.deathstarinspace.com
After college, I worked at NASA for two years, where I learned to manage the risks involved with a project like this. 1.5 years ago I started planning a simple suborbital mission, with 8 months of delay built into the schedule. At that time my main focus was getting six different rocket companies to quote the launch price, and now we have five paths to space (you need backups in the aerospace industry)! I’ve already reserved space on a 5.5 meter United Frontiers Discovery X rocket, so regardless of what happens with this Kickstarter, I will be putting something in space. My current backup item is a big surprise for my sister :)
- United Frontiers - I have already fully paid for a 1U launch with my personal savings.
- Eclipse Orbital - Joined a company w/ ex-NASA & Tesla friends to venture fund a rocket.
- Space Ops Australia - Quoted $19K, w/ signed launch Reservation & Service agreement.
- Rocket Lab - Submitted $85K order on website for 1U launch to 500 km Sun-Sync orbit.
- NASA CubeSat Launch - Since project is non-profit & STEM focused we could fly cheap.
Galactic credits will not make this happen, but WE THE PEOPLE can launch a 10 centimeter / 3.93 inch diameter Death Star into space by grabbing the attention of Walt Disney and the partially fractured Star Wars fandom before May the 4th. Let's bring balance to the force!
Table 1 Key: B = Base KS ($18,420), 1+ (1st Strech Goal), 2+ (2nd Strecth Goal), and etc. It's critical Table 2 Cell O2 > Table 1 Grand Total or Up Goer Five does not go to space!
- +$1,000 - Upgrade LASER power output by factor of 50 (from 0.150 to 8 Watts)
- ++$1,500 - Work w/ United Frontiers to put a HD camera inside the rocket fairing section
- +++$2,000 - 3D print metal Death Star outer shell using Aluminum on i.materialize.com
- ++++$19,000 - Backup suborbital launch on Space Ops Australia rocket from down under
- +++++$85,000 - Go to Low Earth Orbit (LEO - 500 km) w/ Rocket Lab for 6 month mission
The long term goal of this project is to send a Death Star into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for at least 6 months and turn on its LASERS to transmit power to another CubeSat and/or send peoples names via light out of the solar system. That is why we are making even the suborbital PCB's space tolerate by using Roger 4003 based PCB material, thermal spreaders, dual solder mask color, via paste fill, tin-whisker free solder chemistry, and thermally conductive vibration proofing epoxy in preparation for this long term goal.
$1 / The force is strong with (thank) you Every dollar counts and your interest means a lot to us, therefore in addition to the BACKER only updates, we will send you a personalized digital badge. Created by Michael Mooring and Blair Gordon this badge symbolizes a Parallax microcontroller inside a spherical space station shell. Feel free to share your personalized badge on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to help spread the word!
$4 / 3D model download and CAD & YouTube URL:
Do you have access to a 3D printer and want to print your own battle station? If so, we will send you two digital 3D CAD model files (.STP and .STL) which have all the internal structures to mount the electronics used in this project. We will also send you a URL so you can view and comment on the CAD model to suggest changes before we send the final file out to backers. Just don't turn to the dark side of the force... Three months before our rocket launch (Sept 2019) you will receive the finalized 3D model and a private YouTube livestream URL to chat with the team for 1 hour before we send everything into space.
Using a model from Adam Robinson on GrabCAD as a starting point, Blaze Sanders updated the file by hollowing out the center. This saves 3D printing material and allows electronics to be mounted securely inside using metal inserts and M3 bolts. A
REPLACE IMAGE ABOVE WITH CGI FINAL RENDER THAT REMOVES SUPER CAPS???
$9 / Digital Name in Space (on microchip)
We have already loaded the names of 24 Star Wars cast members onto a memory chip of the prototype hardware as a test. Join them on a hero's adventure to outer space by sending your name (or any 32 character text message) along with them.
$25 / Physical Name in Space and BACK
Select the color printed circuit board (PCB) that best represents your relationship with the force (or perhaps choose the lightsaber color you would build for yourself). This PCB will be made of aerospace quality Roger 4003 material and your name will be etched in copper and then gold plated. Your name (or any 32 character long text message) will be mounted to the inside of the top half of the Death Star and then shipped to you after returning from space!
- Blue - Light side Jedi Guardian and skilled lightsaber warrior (Obi-Wan Kenobi)
- White - Grey Jedi focused on the living force, not the old ways of the Order (Ahsoka Tano)
- Red - Dark side Sith with more powerful blades fueled by passion (Darth Vader)
$40 / Two launch party tickets + Digital Name in Space
Join the fire filled party at Spaceport America (or backup locations - see risks below) in New Mexico late 2019. Airplane tickets to get to Spaceport America are NOT included, but if YOU are the first person to back us on this level AND live within CA, NV, UT, AZ, NM, TX, or OK then you my friend are welcome to car pool in a Tesla Model 3 with us.
$80 or $320 / 22 x 22 x 15 mm payload slot into space + Digital Name in Space + 3D model
Want to send something personal into space (and BACK)? How about a wedding ring, a LEGO piece, your hair, a DIY experiment, or etc. The EARLY BIRD price is only $80 because I felt like anyone should be able to afford to send something into space in their lifetime.The only limit is that the item must be non-living and not explode (too much), we will verify with you before the close of the Kickstarter that your item has a GO to fly. Just mail your item to our Oakland, CA office by Sept 2019 and we will make it happen. Note: 100% chance of object return is not guaranteed. Rockets and Death Stars often blow up especially if Luke Skywalker (@hamillhimself) is around.
$135 / STS-135 Signatures:
Be the proud owner of space history. Receive signatures of all four astronauts from the final NASA Space Shuttle mission (STS-135) on a colored 8.5 x 11 inch poster. Pictured right to left (ladies first): Sandra Magnus, Christopher Ferguson, Douglas Hurley, and Rex Walheim
$160 / 3D Printed Model + Digital Name in Space
That's NO Moon! It's a 10 cm diameter fully operational battle station. We will print and ship a grey, 60% fill, 100 um layer, plastic PLA shell to you. Note: We are still fine tuning the internal support structure and bolt patterns for metallic 3D printing, as shown in the development figure 12 below and figure 10 above. Also be aware that NO electronics are included with this reward.
$600 / Construct your own Death Star + Digital Name in Space
For those with a good feeling about this, we can send you all the parts to build your own Death Star (in less then 20 years hopefully). Once complete you should bring it to the Star Wars Episode IX premiere Dec 2019, and flex your Star Wars geek power.
$4500 / Space flown fully operational station + Digital Name in Space + Launch tickets
Get the 1st Death Star to ever go to outer space and back. What will it look like after flying to space and back - will it explode or will it look similar to the SpaceX Dragon 2?!?! Note: The PCB's with peoples names and personal items will be removed before shipment to you.
We are currently writing SPIN code that runs on the Parallax Propeller microcontroller, which makes this project great for STEM education outreach. Kids (< 18) can add/push code into the DSiS Github at STEM-Code.spin and send their code into space for FREE! Learn how to send your code into space on Episode 1 of the DSiS Podcast - posted at the bottom of the web page at www.deathstarinspace.com/engineering
We have built two prototypes so far to test and down select the components needed to fulfill our MDR requirements. We have verified that the 150 mW LASER system works and can be controlled by L298 full H bridge software. That our supercapacitor voltage regulators work as expected and can power the Parallax microcontroller long enough (7 days) to complete its mission. The Parallax microcontroller has already flown to space on the NASA PhoneSat mission, so we know its up to the challenge. Additional open source details can be found at www.deathstarinspace.com/engineering with development history pictures below.
CLOSED CAPTIONING VIDEO SCRIPT FOR DEAF & NON-ENGLISH
[ZERO-G FLOAT IN FROM SCREEN RIGHT]
Hello World. My name is Blaze Sanders, and I'll be sending a Death Star into space. Did I mention it was fully operational?
[SWELLING MUSIC AND LASER SOUNDS]
As an ex-NASA engineer and a huge star wars fan, I’ve been wanting to put a Death Star into space for years. The completion of the 42 year journey from a New Hope to Episode 9 seemed like the perfect time to do it and I just wanted to give Star Wars fans everywhere a chance to join in. [JAZZY MUSIC]
After two years of mission planning and hardware hacking, I’ve finally booked a payload slot on a 5.5 meter United Frontiers Discovery X rocket to blast our battle station past the Karman line, which is the defining altitude for outer space.
Once in space, eight miniature Alderaan’s will be released. The LASER will power up, and the Galaxy will know the full power of the Empire...
[EXPLOSION SOUNDS IN SPACE? :)]
at 1/ 1,000,000th scale :)
Backers will be able to put their name in a space flown memory chip, or get their name etched and gold plated in a Jedi Blue, Ahsoka Tano white, or Sith red Printed Circuit Board, or even get the entire space station after the flight.
DS-1 will launch in Q4 of 2019 and return to Earth for the Star Wars 9 premiere on December 20th. For fans everywhere, I’ve already open sourced the hardware and software, available at www.deathstarinspace.com
So that’s the plan! We have some pretty cool rewards, some awesome stretch goals. So please join me on this crazy hero’s journey to put a death star into space. Spread the word, tell your friends, and may the force be with you...always.
(1) How was that Beau?
(2) It was awesome!
(1) Was it the best acting you have ever seen in your life?
(2) Oh was that Blaze? I thought you hired somebody?
Risks and challenges
Hey Disney, this Kickstarter project (not product) is non-profit (no person is getting salary) and STEM outreach focused. It's a "Transformative" use of DIsney IP because it includes complex engineering additions such as; supercapacitors, custom 4 layer PCB's with human names, and is enclosed in a 1U CubeSat form factor. This project is also not in competition with any Disney / Star Wars related video, movie, or TV show products. See Disney Trademark Infringement: Everything You Need to Know at https://goo.gl/dVVkWE
I have already paid for a suborbital rocket launch, so no matter what, something will be going into space and back. My backup object is a big surprise for my sister :) That said we understand the risks that come along with this project including; reward fulfillment cutting away from capital needed to finish the project, United Frontiers mission getting delayed more than 6 months, our hardware being delayed because of requirement creep and failed hardware stress tests. That said we have built delays into the schedule, since things always take three times as long as you plan for :) Also if we miss Star Wars IX we could try again on the next movie release.
The first risk (reward fulfillment) has been carefully analyzed. We have studied five different space Kickstarters to see where they went wrong (uninspiring rewards, man hour expensive / hard to build rewards, too many rewards, etc) and created the following open source Kickstarter business analysis spreadsheet (https://tinyurl.com/y6nqt9g4) to make sure we stay on budget and determine if we can realistically fulfill this project.
The second risk (United Frontiers is delayed more then 6 months) has been reduced via 3 backup solutions. First, I have joined Eclipse Orbital Systems with fellow ex-NASA and ex-Tesla friends of many years to build Umbraphile, a 16 foot tall hybrid rocket. We will be launching from Kodiak Spaceport in Alaska in Q3 2019 and are accepting payload and rocket engine purchase inquiries now (https://www.eclipseorbital.com/flightbooking). Second, Space Ops Australia has hardware ready to fly in Q4 2019 and I have signed their launch Reservation & Service agreement contracts. We just need to raise the stretch goal of $19K to pay the balance. Third, Vector Launch could get us to ORBIT if we raise the $150K stretch goal. and lastly NASA gives away free / low cost rides to space if they are STEM focused. Which we are by being open source and by letting students write code that will go to space. Check out the following link for details https://www.nasa.gov/content/about-cubesat-launch-initiative
The third risk (hardware requirement creep and failed stress tests) has been greatly reduced using NASA's System Design Review method, 3D printing eight versions of the shells and assembling three versions of the PCB in China. We have tested the LASER's on Earth and dropped the fully assembled system (40 G's) on to wooden tables to test for robustness :)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (25 days)