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Deployment of Space Weapons

Posted by: Andy Hill - Wed Apr 27, 2005 1:38 pm
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Deployment of Space Weapons 
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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 1:59 pm
In my mind 45 minutes of day and 45 minutes of night is a 50% loss just like 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
There seems to be the danger a little bit that this is running into a new Orbital Mechanics thread... :)
Yes it does. :)


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 2:18 pm
50 % loss of what?

During the 45 minutes of daylight energy can be got and stored. As long as the weapons are not used druing the 45 minutes of night the stored energy isn't consumed and the amount of the energy stored increases during the next 45 minutes of daylight.

As long as there is peace while the platform orbits Earth the amount of energy grows until the capacity of the storage is exhausted.

Then there should be no problems when the weapon has to fire the first time. As long as it has to fire at the night-side of Earth it could get new energy at the day-side - if it has to fire at the day-side it could use the solar power directly and doesn't have to consume that much stored energy as it has to on the night-side.

This would be different if the platform is launched after beginning of a war.

Storing that amount energy at the surface will be prevented because there are clouds often. And during 12 hours of daylight at the surface there are several periods of 45 minutes of daylight in LEO that add up concerning the gathering of energy in a store.

So this couldn't be the problem.

We shouldn't forget that there was the SDI - didn't include laser weapons? To make blind sensors of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles?



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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 3:00 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
50 % loss of what?
I guess you need to think like an engineer to get it.

Storage of energy for 45 minutes or even 12 hours is not the problem. The point is that either on the ground or in LEO, the solar panels only see the sun 50% of the time, averaged over a day or more. The additional losses due to clouds on the ground are a small problem compared to the difficulty of launching the solar panels and batteries into space and ensuring they continue working there for years with no maintenance.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 3:23 pm
I think that this was all beside the point as, discussed earlier, the weapon platform is likely to be in a geostationary orbit and have the same rotational period as the earth although it might have slightly more "daylight" hrs due to its height above the Earth (making it see dawn earlier and dusk later).

The second article appears to be talking about an orbiting satellite that collects energy from a ground based laser and focuses it at an enemy target. Such a device would not need a huge power source in orbit to operate tracking and optical equipment and solar power would probably work OK.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 4:41 pm
So wait, we are talking about directed-energy weapons here, yes? There is a lot of available information on this kind of thing, a bit of dedicated googling could help to understand that the engineering problems are much more complex than your'e presuming.

First of all, under current technology, you're never going to be able to place an orbital laser weapon (short of building some monster BFR), the only way that real weapon-level energies (i.e. MW-class) are achieved is by using chemical fuel (typically singlet-delta oxygen generation methods or something similar). The ABL system currently being built flies aboard a 747, and I believe it carries enough fuel for only a dozen "shots" or so...

You could perhaps put just a targeting reflector in space, but I don't think that you can park it in geosync. You need sureveillance-level resolution, focusing the laser is essentially the same task as photographing somebody's vehicle from space, and all of those birds are in LEO. Then you have the problem of real-time tracking of the bouncer sat and the target, compunded by the deformation of the reflecting surfaces during manuver and targeting. Don't forget maintaining the absolute pristineness of your optics, which will probably have to be supercooled as well, lest they be cooked by the beam they are supposed to be directing. This last bit of technology may actually be at hand on account of the various orbital telescope projects, though.

Add to all of this the supreme vulnerability of anything in orbit (the USSR had tested a ground-based ASAT laser in the early 90's, I'm sure the U.S. COIL or MIRACL devices are suited for the task as well; heck, even Isreal has a laser that could probably do it. Even without a big laser on the ground, targets in LEO are ducks, there have been more than one air-launched ASAT missiles produced in the last couple of decades.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 5:01 pm
SawSS1Jun21 wrote:
So wait, we are talking about directed-energy weapons here, yes? There is a lot of available information on this kind of thing, a bit of dedicated googling could help to understand that the engineering problems are much more complex than your'e presuming.


I'm not presuming anything, I'm just saying what the article appears to be suggesting. Whether it is feasible in the near future, a couple of decades or never at all I really coundn't say. But the two articles appear to draw different conclusions based on similar facts to whether the US is likely to deploy space weapons.

Conjecture by various writers must create unrest in other countries which will eventually lead to the conclusion that there is no smoke without fire. As long as high ranking government officials and military officers say that this is an option, people will think that it is going to happen when technology catches up with military asperations.

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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 5:15 pm
Yeah, that's true... The U.S. military leadership (and the current administration as well) are fond of saying that there is nothing they won't try, and that is sure to make other nations uneasy.

The reality is that they are spending R&D money on lasers, but I don't think they really want to put them in space. I do think they want to put GPS-guided air-to-gound munitions in space. I read an article about the pentagon folks talking about this about two years ago, after which I consulted with someone I know at Boeing Space Systems. He confirmed that it was true and we had a brief discussion about it.

About 10 months later, I had occasion to bring up the topic again, and this fellow assured me he had no idea what I was talking about. Around this same time, I read about some senators on some space appropriations committee whom refused to sign the papers they were working on because they felt that the allocations were going to result in a breach of international law which would result in a "threat to national security." Of course, the committee's work is secret, and it passed anyway in spite of the protest...

Anyway, I think the weaponization of space is possibly fait accompli, and I know it certainly doesn't have to be a "death ray" to cause death.


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Post    Posted on: Tue May 10, 2005 6:31 pm
SawSS1Jun21 wrote:
Anyway, I think the weaponization of space is possibly fait accompli, and I know it certainly doesn't have to be a "death ray" to cause death.


Most people believe it is a matter of when rather than if. The trouble is that the technology will be here anyway in other guises used for peaceful purposes. Nearly anything can be adapted for a military use. Things like laser range finding used for autonomous docking systems are a good example of this, the same technology can be used to track missiles or a friendly spacecraft. The technology will evolve with or without the military's help and if there is no treaty or a clear unambiguous statement to never deploy space weapons by all nations (something that is not likely to happen) then someone will decide that they need this option.

The US, despite what Bush says, appears to be taking the view that if somebody is going to do this then its going to be them and this will allow other countries to follow suit.

IMHO the whole idea is stupid given that using ICBMs to attack the US is highly unlikely and that terrorists can find much easier ways to achieve their aims. Setting off Nuclear weapons in the US would be counterproductive, the backlash would be huge and other countries would be forced to take a stand.

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 11, 2005 8:44 am
Peter,

we should urgently clarify and explain our thinkings and backgrounds in the two threads I recommended in another thread yesterday. Please try to find out why the links I posted don't work in your case. Do you see the Off-Topic section? Are you a Senior Member and do you have access to that section? If not please try to get the access by talking to Sigurd and Cathleen.

It is possible to join our thinkings and backgrounds to one larger whole concept.

You seem to have in mind each project, each task and/or each object isolated - separated from the others - while analysing and considering it. If it turns out that this really is so then this is one of the major reasons why you get other results than I. You were talking about costs and compared them to losses of energy but if the isolated consideration of weapon platforms is removed and space stations, satellites, vehicles and space travelling people are included - then it looks different.

The next point is that the higher the orbit the more access to solar power. A weapon platform at geostationary orbit will see the sun much longer than 12 hours althought it requires 24 hours to orbit Earth - while a place at the earthian surface sees the sun 12 hours only.



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 11, 2005 12:40 pm
Here's an example of what I've been saying about technology being developed for civil applications that could be used in a military role.

The article is talking about ISRU and how cooling can be used to produce rocket fuel and oxygen then for no apparant reason the last paragraph talks about how this could be used to cool a space based laser system. Why make this point? The people who maybe looking at such weapons are probably already aware of the connection, it adds nothing to the story and it just serves to raise the space weapons profile again.

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology ... 50511.html

I am not saying that people should bury their head in the sand about these things but by the same token I see no reason to keep mentioning them at every opportunity either.

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 11, 2005 12:51 pm
Hello, Andy Hill,

I have to read the article yet but I know of a civil purpose that may a reason for mentioning a space based laser system: The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will have equipment to transmit data by laser - the has been an article a few days ago about this under www.space.com .

The MRO will have radio equipment for transmision too but laser transmission is installed too. It seems to be an experiment but the transmission capacity is that larger than by radio that NASA may use the laser transmission system seriously and regularly.

May be that's the reason to make that point.

...



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 11, 2005 1:15 pm
I have read it now - and weapons are mentioned explicitly - especially advanced lasers. Space-based lasers as weapons are not mentioned but I still seem to remember that formerly it had been reported that SDI researched space based lasers as weapons.

So the article seems to have nothing to do with laser communication.



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 11, 2005 1:23 pm
Ekkehard Augustin wrote:
So the article seems to have nothing to do with laser communication.


It had nothing to do with weapons either until it mentioned them in the last paragraph as a throw away comment.

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Post    Posted on: Wed May 18, 2005 1:28 pm
Lasers as weapons tend to be (at this point) 1: really bulky, 2: highly inefficient, 3: very fragile, 4: extremely expensive, and 5: badly marred by a Buck Rogers-esque image. For whatever reason, the optimism of the general public about technology that was so strongly present in the 1950s is now completely missing, and new military systems (especially involving space) are generally seen as rather idiotic and a waste of money.

Kinetic weapons are cheaper, easier to implement, and much more robust. I'll take the Rods from God (the unofficial name for a kinetic weapon platform) any day over a Silver Tower (a decent SF book on a first-generation battlestation).

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Last edited by spacecowboy on Thu May 19, 2005 11:53 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post    Posted on: Wed May 18, 2005 3:11 pm
spacecowboy wrote:
For whatever reason, the optimism of the general public about technology that was so strongly present in the 1950s is now completely missing
Sad but true. :(


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