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Space Weapons

Posted by: Horus - Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:12 am
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Space Weapons 
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Post Space Weapons   Posted on: Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:12 am
The other day after playing too much of spacesim comp games, my mind wondered to the subject of space weapons. When you think about it militarization of space was THE engine that drove the space race. With the unilateral withdrawl of USA out of several key treaties that brohibit space weapons development, it is fair to ask what effect "Star Wars II: Empire Strikes Back" (The Bush Edition) will have on space industry. So I made a list of potential space worthy weapon systems.

First thing off the top of my head is the missile tech. It works on Earth and it works in space plus the military is quite fond of them so development is not an issue. Even a simple hydrozine single stage rocket can achieve realistic Delta V of about 6 km/s. if you put the missile platform into polar orbit that's enough Delta V to hit anything from LEO to Lunar orbit. With today's minituarization you can fit reciever, guidance, radar, IR detector and comp on a rocket perhaps less than 20kg. Such a rocket would be able to terminate ISS let alone a sattelite. Now if the missile platform is in the mass range of a commsat, it would be able to carry a 100 such missiles. Given Patriot's peformance perhaps 90% of them will intercept their targets on the first try. So if you put a constellation of 10 such missile platforms, you'd have capability to terminate anything worth blowing up in near Earth space with plenty of missiles to spare. Not to bad for some lousy low tech mini-missile platform system.

Now the bad thing about this missile tech is that just cause you can blow stuff up doesn't mean that you can protect your assets and that's where point defence systems come in.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:01 am
My thoughts are,

Chine have already blown something out the sky! not only scary from that perspective but you get bits of ship everywhere! (And you cant pick the bits up as cargo, as in Elite on the C64)

Secondly i wander what weapons would have done to the US if they could have blown thisnew out of control satellite out of the sky. Atleast we would know it wouldnt hit us. However i am sure there are ramifications.

Rob

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 02, 2008 11:50 am
You don't need to blow up the ISS to destroy it. Just launch your regular dnepr to it, or the soyuz, and crash it into the ISS. Mission accomplished.

Military in space is bad. Weapons in space is bad. Can you imagine the practical implications if there were allready space weapons in orbit? That's a form of world domination. If you can push the button at any time to blow up any city anywhere in the world, it's nothing less then a form of world domination. And in the end it doesn't matter if the man behind the button is a dictator or someone in a 'democracy' or whatever.

Besides, the chinese blew up their own satelite and everybody is going crazy about spacedebris. A giant US spysatelite is uncontrollable and nobody as much as whistles. Thats called hypocritism where i come from.


The tricky side of this is that eventually there will be weapons and military in space. If we were ever to go to Mars and setup another bad form of government over there, they want military and police as well. Plus, how about blowing asteroids out of the sky?


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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:05 pm
The US had ASAT weapons developed, but different to space movies if shoot up something the thing won't disappear but break up into zillions of debris particles.

About world domination. Where's the difference between "conventional" launched nuclear weapons and space-launched weapons other than you hit your target in 5 instead of 10 minutes? If some national "leader" wants to use these weapons he can do it now already.

If you think 5 minutes more would give a country some form of defense capability or if you like the US missile shield, just switch the weapon from an ICBM to a cruise missile. You'll have to wait then a bit longer until you destroyed your city of choice but your friend won't know until he sees his city burning.

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Post    Posted on: Sat Feb 02, 2008 1:31 pm
@Horus: Just a few ideas.. ;) Master of Orion series, Reunion, Imperium Galactica, Nexus (most realistically handling the Solar System's future in the beginning, absolutely worth a look), Homeworld, and many more I for sure forgot
Upcoming in March: Lost Empire - Immortals

Another discussion perspective about space weapons (I don't know if there are aliens out there, I don't believe in anything in that matter to be precise, but I consider all options in all directions I have to say first):
What about preparing for an Alien arrival? Well of course nobody knows if we are alone in the galaxy or universe, but just as I wrote..nobody knows.

Many theories like Fermi's paradox try to find answers but basically really nobody can say. So for a second let's assume we are not alone.

Many would say, ok, then why should someone flying dozens or hundreds of light years, attack us? Well, the (I assume today's physics here, that is no Warp drive or other breakthrough physics) only possibility then to reach other stars would be with huge generation ships or if you like arks.

So, such a civilization coming by such an ark would need to decelerate early enough to enter our Solar System. They perhaps chose the system because their space-based telescopes showed a planetary system with suitable conditions like a planet in the habitable zone of its star and oxygen and ozone in their spectroscopic analysis.

So they perhaps know, there could be life-forms but their religion says them they are the only sentient being, who knows. Back to the Ark.

Such a giant ship won't be launchable to the stars without the energy support from a home planet. So after they initiated their decelaration they would have no other chance as to stay. Do you think they would be driven then by any "moralic" concepts like..hey..there are already sentient life forms on the planet, we are only second, so we have to go away.

Or what if their religion tells them they are the only sentient beings and won't recognize us as sentient.

There are actually as many arguments for as against a "destructive" behaviour. So the question would be. If you don't know ANYTHING what could happen in the future, is it necessary/wise/good/bad to prepare for any option?

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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:59 am
Tungsten rod
Solar reflector array
Other beam weapons

Of course any bomber that can travel higher and faster than any other weapon (planes+missiles) will be able to strike anywhere on the planet unopposed. Launching modified ICBMs from planes at 60 km altitude would defeat early warning and anti-missile systems. A plane could take off piggybacked to another plane halfway across the planet, go on a steep climb and launch the missile at hypersonic velocity. The missile would continue on a ballistic trajectory towards its target and be very hard to detect and intercept.


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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 03, 2008 2:03 am
I ain't gonna touch the political implications of space militarization with a 10 feet pole. As fun as the blame game is, I am more interested in exploiting the base impulses of our "wise" leaders. Comprehensive test ban treaty and outer space treaty were meant to be broken. The military has lots of money to spare and if they think that "Star Wars" is worthwhile and invest in space industry, I ain't gonna look into the gifted horse's mouth. There is nothing like a healthy arms race to improve tech.

Anyway, back to possible space weapon systems. The second obvious option after missiles is guns or more specifically hypervelocity electromagnetic launchers. There are two types of electromagnetic launcers in existance today: railguns and coilguns. For reasons I won't go into railguns are a dead end as a space weapon. Coilguns are much more promising however, theoretically the muzzle velocity of a coilgun is limited only by transient power capacity and barrel length. With todays tech coilguns with muzzle velocity of 20km/s are perfectly feasible. At 20km/s a 10g projectile has kinetic energy of a tank shell. Unfortunately 20km/s is a bit slow for space combat. Any manuvering missile has a very good chance of dodging incoming hypervelocity projectiles at distances greater than 100km even if the aim is perfect, which it is not. Any unguided projectile weapon will have inherent inaccuracy. With a 1 second spread, you've got about 1% chance of hitting a non-accellerating 1m diamiter target at 1000km.

A more involved coilgun consept is a plutonium gun. Basically you get a second generation coilgun and accellerate a plutonium bullet to +100km/s.
At such velocity a plutonium pellet that impacts a hard target will go supercritical and explode like a mini-nuke. 1g of plutonium mini-nuke explosion would cripple an aircraft carrier sized ship and totally vaporise anything much smaller, say a shuttle or a small asteroid.

A third option is a directed energy weapon. There are a multitude of possible direct energy weapons ranging from electron lasers to anti-matter beams. One of most promising I think is a particle accellerator.
Even a low power particle accellerator would send particle streams at nearly the speed of light making it impossible to dodge the beam. The great thing about particle beams is that they don't have to vaporise their target to terminate it. Only a modest energy flux is needed to disable or kill a target through radiation and EMP. To that end a pulsed mode is prefferable to contineous emmitter. If lethal flux is set to 10kW/m^2 and beam spread is 1 second, then 1MW generator can project that kind of flux up to 1000km away and the beam would remain dangerous as far as 10,000km away.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Feb 07, 2008 12:45 am
Hi,
There's some questions which appears with colonization of space,notably the notion of extra society or group of people living outside earth.The question is,who can protect them if they are far away from Earth?It's the same question which appear in case of disease,who can rescue them?
Local Space Army and Space Rescue Units must be developed and post in orbit.

adkomans


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Post    Posted on: Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:08 am
Concerning that. If and when He3 fussion reactors become widespread piracy would become an issue too. The closest source of cheap He3 is on Ur-Anus ( :) ) with transport tug taking months if not years to get to inner Solar system. The path cuts through two Asteroid belts and sometimes crosses the orbits of both Jupiter and Saturn. Considering the market value of that He3, that transport just begs to be hijacked. There are many millions of spaceship sized asteroids in inner Solar system alone and even the best scanners are unlikely to distinguish between a hunk of rock and a spaceship much futher than 10 light-seconds. The solar system is thousands of light-seconds across plus there ain't likely to be that many patrol spaceships around. Put two and two together and it appears that a new age of piracy is ahead of us.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Feb 17, 2008 10:37 am
Which is why cargo transports will have to be big enough to dock fighters so they can hire Security/Mercenaries. What about space assasinations? Say, the president of some moon/asteroid/KBO wants more power so they hire a squadran of Mercenaries to attack the president of Mars/Venus/Titan/somewhere else.


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Post Weapons   Posted on: Sun Apr 13, 2008 10:22 pm
Reading this , i started to wonder why would the goverment want space weapons, I was one of the people that worked on the MOAB project, look at the money spent on that , and never used one weapon. Just because of the fact , it would kill too many inocent people, but what they don't think about is how many innocent parished on sept 11, The terrorist didn't care about our innocent people. Whats the use of building new weapons , if they are never used ? ( Show and tell )


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Post    Posted on: Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:41 am
Its the same reason we had that stupid Cold War arms race, we make new toys 'cause we fear that THEY are making new toys and God forbid if our toys are less cool than their toys. Pretty much all of the security strategy 'round the world can be boiled down to this preschool logic. As for weapon of choice in space i'd say that nukes are destinied to be one. I did some rough calculations and if I remember it correctly a 30Mt nuke would have energy density of 10kJ in 1000km radius mostly in the form of Y-rays protons and neutrons. 10kJ doesn't sound like much but the because the radiation is so penetrating and ionising only 1kJ is enough guarantee radiation kill for human in EVA suit and because all this radiation is emmitted in a millisecond, spacecraft hit by such radiation would get EMP fried and even the faraday cage won't help because energetic particles penetrate the skin for about a foot.
One pecularity of space nukes is that the bigger they are the more efficiently they spread the radiation, since Volume of a sphere is increased with the cube of the radius and power is dissipated at square of the radius. So I wouldn't be surprised if they start making "crust buster" terraton nukes, after a certain point nukes have greater kill radius than range of conventional direct energy or kinetic kill weapons plus they are area of effect weapons capable of taking out potentially enormous number of targets in one go.
One can theoretically build focused blast nuke in the manner of shaped charge explosive to enchance their kill radius. One way to do this is to have initiator (fission nuke) behind a cylinder of fussionable material encased in good conductor heavy metal (gold would be ideal), when the initiator blows the blast would be laterally contained by combination of inertial and magnetic confinement.

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Post Re: Weapons   Posted on: Mon May 19, 2008 9:38 pm
cj wrote:
Reading this , i started to wonder why would the goverment want space weapons, I was one of the people that worked on the MOAB project, look at the money spent on that , and never used one weapon. Just because of the fact , it would kill too many inocent people, but what they don't think about is how many innocent parished on sept 11, The terrorist didn't care about our innocent people. Whats the use of building new weapons , if they are never used ? ( Show and tell )


Lets suppose I have a great space based weapon system capable of hitting ground targets. I might not have much use for fighters, bombers and carrier groups anymore.

Space based weapons might actually save money on logistics, basing, etc.

So naturally there will never be a "space force"

The other branches of the US armed forces won't allow themselves to be made obsolete.


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Post    Posted on: Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:13 pm
Just this moment this possible option came to my mind: What about directing asteroids towards a hostile territory? A rock of less than 25 m length could be eqipped with an engine and directed to Earth that exactly in time that it hits the hostile territory.

This way cities, towns, villages and industrial regions could be wiped out.

What about this? It might be a favourable substitute for nuclear weapons...



Dipl.-Volkswirt (bdvb) Augustin (Political Economist)


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Post    Posted on: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:42 pm
Yeah that won't escalate.

Now instead of nukes, everyone maintains a Halo of asteroids ready to wipe out all life on Earth at the drop of a hat.

At least a nuclear war would let the roaches and algae survive.

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