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The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 01:03 AM
I've been working on a science fiction world (maybe to write a book) recently and I've gotten myself stuck on weapons to use in space. All I've got so far that I like are nuclear and conventional missiles. I should mention that this is a very hard sci-fi setting (takes place within our solar system, no FTL anything, no magic sensors, no aliens, no transporters - you get the idea).

So. No beam weapons. No antimatter weapons. No rail-gun type weapons (too easy to get out of the way).

I'm also a bit stuck on short range munitions.

Any thoughts?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 01:34 AM
I don't know if they will work but you can borrow these from me if you like--> http://skepticalcommunity.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=3279

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 01:46 AM
Thanks, SkepticJ. I'm not sure what the disks would do to the ships I'm thinking about (they have armour to stop micro-meteoroids), but the bola has some merit. The only problem is that if you're close enough to use it without the enemy moving out of the way, you're dead.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 02:02 AM
What about nanite bullets? You shoot just one at them. It sticks to the outside of the ship and does a "grey goo" scenario to the ship and every one in it. I'm so horrible. :D

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 02:04 AM
While fun, it's way too advanced for what I'm thinking. See my dilemma? :)

I'm thinking kinetic weapons for surface bombardment. What do you think?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 02:26 AM
I'm thinking kinetic weapons for surface bombardment. What do you think?



What like shooting a 10 meter iron chunk with a rail gun? It's going to have a big recoil.

My latest super weapon is my planetary devastator. You probably wouldn't want to use it though because it uses anti matter which puts it a bit above your time frame maybe. What year are we talking anyway? If it's at least 70 years in the future they could have nanite bullets. What do you have against electromagnetic radiation beam weapons?

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 02:32 AM
Like shooting a 2 metre long, 5 centimetre diameter conical tungstan rod at a target. Apparently it's been looked into by the US military. I'll have to think about the recoil, though...

100 kg projectile, big ship?

Added:

130 years in the future, slow development (just don't like the way sci-fi stories always have hyperdirves in 50 years). I don't see where the energy to power the nanotech weapon will come from.

Lasers? Over long distances, you'd need a BIG laser. That means an immobile mount. You'd have to move the whole ship to aim. A nuclear missile seems to be more effective to me.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 02:36 AM
100 kg projectile, big ship?

The recoil depends on how fast you shoot the rod. F=MA squared....or something like that. Check for yourself. I might be telling you the wrong equation.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 02:42 AM
Yeah, F=MA is right. I just don't know what the acceleration should be.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 02:53 AM
I don't see where the energy to power the nanotech weapon will come from.

Sunlight? I wonder if the virtual particals that pop in and out of existance in a vacuum would be enough. If it could that would work those are the only thing that could ever be powered by such weak amounts of energy

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 03:02 AM
I think they'd be too small for solar collection (and what happens when they burrow into the ship?) and vacuum energy is way too advanced for me.

Ilya
2004-Dec-12, 03:03 AM
I'm thinking kinetic weapons for surface bombardment. What do you think?

First of all, do not use "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as your model ;) Heinlein grossly overestimated the destructive power of kinetic projectiles from the Moon. An object falling from Moon's distance enters the atmosphere at 11.1 km/sec -- which translates into about 17 times its mass in TNT. Nothing to sneeze at, but hardly a city-destroyer Heinlein portrayed. Properly aerodynamic, devastating against things like bunkers or missile facilities.

Second, how much time do you allow between firing a projectile and the impact? Is it a sneak attack, or does the target expect it? That makes a huge impact (har!) on tactics.

Probably the most innovative space tactic I ever read was in the (otherwise undistinguished, IMO) book "Europa Strike". It goes like that:

Evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence is found on Jupiter's moon Europa while, for unrelated reasons, tensions mount between US and China. An armed American spaceship is dispatched to Europa, while another is orbiting Mars. A Chinese ship launches, seemingly toward nowhere in particular. Few days after launch it detonates a fusion device, in a 100 megaton range, in empty space. No one in US can figure out the purpose of that, except possibly as a "message" -- demonstration of power. ("What happened to sending messages by e-mail?" grumbles one US Marine.)

What the Chinese spaceship actually did was fire an enormously powerful railgun, twice. The fusion bomb was a smokescreen -- the sleet of charged particles completely masked the EM pulse from firing the gun. You are right, railgun projectiles ARE easy to get out of the way -- if you know they are coming (BTW, that was Heinlein's second msitake -- short of a nuclear detonation, there is no way to hide the EM signature of a railgun firing from the Moon). But no one does.

One swarm of projectiles is aimed at Jupiter -- or rather where Jupiter will be some months later, when first American spaceship arrives. Needless to say, it is timed to arrive simultaneously with the said spaceship... and the projectiles have enough self-guidance to hit it. The other swarm is slower, and is aimed to where Mars -- and the second American ship, -- would be at that same time. Chancy, of course -- if that ship leaves Mars orbit in the intervening two months, it is safe, but the Chinese take this gamble. And the beauty of this is that if for whatever reason Chinese Politbureau decides to call off the attack -- no one will ever know it was underway! Just send a very short radio code to the projectiles, ordering them to miss their targets. And if they are needed, the attack is undetectable and unstoppable. Europa-bound swarm moves at over 100 km/sec, the Mars-bound one at about 25 km/sec. The course correction occurs within seconds from impact, and until then they are black, cold and silent.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 03:10 AM
I want to use kinetic weapons to destroy building, shallow bunkers, docked ocean-going ships, etc. No super-weapons.

And time to impact is however it takes to reach the ground from low- to medium-altitude orbit. This of course varies depending on the planet or moon. I only want to use them for bombardment since surprise will be very difficult to achieve (fusion drives create a lot of heat and it's easy to see something coming from a long way off anyway).

Added: The weapon wouldn't need to be accelerated all that much to do significant damage on the ground, would it? I mean, gravity should accelerate it enough, right? It would just need a push to get it going. Or am I totally wrong here?

weatherc
2004-Dec-12, 02:33 PM
So. No beam weapons. No antimatter weapons. No rail-gun type weapons (too easy to get out of the way).

I'm also a bit stuck on short range munitions.

Any thoughts?

I think you are underestimating our weapons capabilities for 130 years in the future just a bit. We can already stuff a pretty powerful laser into a 747 jet plane to knock out missiles, and that's happening right now. In just another 20-30 years, I don't think it would be outrageous to think that weapons of similar power could be fitted onto smaller aircraft. Add another 100 years to that, and you could mount several very powerful lasers onto one somewhat large spaceship (one that is a kilometer or two long).

I also think there is the possibility of particle beam weapons at that point in the future. While these are pretty far behind lasers in development at the moment due to the amount of energy they require, more than a century to work on them is a long time. I think it is perfectly reasonable to think that proton beam weapons would be possible in the mid 22nd century, and compared to lasers, they would pack one heck of a wallop.

I think that kinetic weapons would work fine for small surface targets and shallow bunkers. These would get you your best bang for your buck; just pick a target, and drop them. Let gravity do the work for you.

The short range munitions might not be much different than today's guns on big ships. If you are at a range where it would be difficult for the other ship to get out of the way of the projectiles, they would be very effective.

eburacum45
2004-Dec-12, 03:32 PM
Nanotech weapons are best reserved as stealthly, slow weapons that attack people like a disease, parasiting on their own chemical energy; a parasitical attack of the same sort could attack electronic devoes to make them useless.

Having said that ordinary biological warfare and cybernetic virus attacks would achieve the same results but more quickly; it seems likely that natoweapons, biological weapons and computer viruses will converge in the next few hundred years.

To attack spaceships you just chuch a bucket of bolts at them at high speed; a fragmentation weapon hitting a spaceship at 18-25,000 kph would be devastating in most cases.

And to attack targets on Earth, grab a couple of Near Earth objects; adjust the orbit while it is at the most distant from Earth, a year or so in advance; then just hope peace doesn't break out in the waiting period.
To drop smaller kinetic weapons from orbit, try using rotating tethers; they could gain energy from the Earth's magnetic field, then when the lower end of the tether intercepts the target, you cut the tether.

SSJPabs
2004-Dec-12, 03:34 PM
Hmm what about a Gauss rifle/cannon? (Magnetic Linear Accelerator) I mean if you can mount them on spaceships you can make them hella long, which means the magnets don't HAVE to be as powerful right? Or are they just a type of rail gun?

Also, latest laser advances really does suggest to me that we could mount a powerful laser on space-ship of sufficient size. The usefulness of individual space fighters becomes more apparent for close range attacks huh? :P

http://www.scitoys.com/scitoys/scitoys/magnets/gauss.html

I'll say though is what I have trouble is what comes after projectile/lasers/charged particle beams and matter-anti matter type weapons.

I have no idea how to make them any more powerful or sound impressive and was forced to bring an "unobtanium" ore into my story if I wanted something more powerful.

Rich
2004-Dec-12, 04:47 PM
Like shooting a 2 metre long, 5 centimetre diameter conical tungstan rod at a target. Apparently it's been looked into by the US military. I'll have to think about the recoil, though...
I think they called the weapon concept for that "Thor's Hammer", not to be confused with the one from SG1. The purpose was more for anti-personnel and vehicle weapons from space. You won't have much luck taking out a deep bunker with such a weapon, but you could wipe out a unit in the field... of course, we have cheaper ways of doing that more conventionally now. Niven and Pournelle (or was it Barnes) played with the concept in "Footfall" the aliens dropped them from orbit using laser targeting.

Someone else mentione the ABL (Airborne Laser) system. It's not quite as far along as the military would like to portray it. In fact, I recently read something that they are having a very hard time making the weapon platform stable on the 747 airframe. This is not something they had anticipated being a problem. Fuel, firing duration, and getting the weapon beyond single-shot RTB (return to base) were considered the major obstacles. They've got the first two issues largely handled I understand... getting more than one shot off seems to be a more persistant issue.

But this doesn't mean that some years in the future that other energy weapons couldn't be handy. Borrow a page from Niven and have X-ray and microwave weapons to literally cook the occupants of target ship. Not much good for space to ground, I would imagine, but once you achieve space dominance you can just grab some rocks and throw them down on military bases, transportation hubs, and any particularly stubborn pockets of resistance. Quite the strategic advantage. In fact that might make a good story, how would one defend against an attack from orbit? How do you attack an attacker in orbit (given relatively equal technologies)? I would think that a reasonably armed ship in orbit would have a big advantage since they would have fair warning of any kind of kinetic or ballistic attack from the surface and energy weapons would be pretty useless due to the atmosphere. Now what happens if you attack a colony on a moon with little atmosphere??? Hmmm. Very easy to target life support systems and just fix them after all the occupants are dead, but they will have much more flexibility in the variety of weapons to deploy in defense. This is fun stuff to think about! :)

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 05:20 PM
Apparently, these kinetic weapons can penetrate 1 metre of uranium, 1.5 metres of steel or 3 metres of stone. According to here (http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1209/) anyway. Useless against deep bunkers, though. Still, you can take out almost any unarmoured structure and almost any large vehicle (moving at slow speeds).

I'm still hesitant to use lasers. A nuclear warhead will get much more energy to the target than a laser. Besides, a laser becomes quickly ineffective over long ranges. Aside from anti-missile defensive wepons, I just don't see lasers being useful. And even then, I would think something like this (http://www.sfu.ca/casr/101-navciws.htm) would be just as effective.

Added: Defending against a ship in orbit would be very difficult. The best way would be to have your own ship or defense platform up there as well. Barring that... maybe missiles? Easy to shoot down, but what else are you going to do?

Rich
2004-Dec-12, 06:05 PM
Well, lasers in space should be pretty effective over long distances. With no atmosphere and defuse dust to interfere. And at short to medium ranges there is simply no dodging a true laser. Still, they would be pretty easy to defeat by rotating or placing ablative materials on the hull of your ship. Could lead to some interested measure/counter-measure concepts though.

For your realistic system most engagements between larger vessels will probably take place at long distance and at high velocities. Weapons and tactics under those circumstances might be a good thing to look at. At most ranges missiles and kinetic weapons are still your best bet, I think. A big old shotgun design would be pretty effective. At high velocities running into several Kg worth of ball bearings would be pretty devastating. It's not like you can stop such a weapon with a P.H.A.L.A.N.X. point defense system either. If the ball bearings are coated in radar absorbing materials, you might just be screwed, you simply couldn't see it to avoid it. Ouch.

I liked David Brin's unique alternative weapons in "Startide Rising". The human and dolphin crew was being pursued by several hostile ships. The Captain released the water from the dolphin crew quarters into space, the hostile ships didn't see this move in time and slammed into the water at considerable velocity... boom!

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 06:22 PM
Actually, I like the giant shotgun idea. I'll have to work it in. It's just so... devastating. What would I use to get them moving, though? Explosives? Coilgun? Fill a barrel, get it moving and then blow it up? Hey, this is fun!

I'm still not convinced about lasers over long distances, though. Even without atmosphere, there's still the inverse square law. Medium and short distances... maybe. I'll think about it.

Added: What about big orbital defense stations? You could load them up with an enormous number of weapons. The problem of course being that they wouldn't be able to move out of the way of incoming ordinance. Not sure if they'd be militarily viable or not.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-12, 09:33 PM
Instead of shooting tungsten rods why not shoot rods of metal glass(a.k.a. liquid metal http://www.liquidmetaltechnologies.com/index/default.asp )

The military is currently working on weapons that use this because it's self sharpening like depleted uranium rounds are. But without the radioactive oxide dust afterwards. So humane. 8)

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-12, 11:34 PM
Tungsten has the very same properties (adiabatic shear banding), is denser than DU and is pyrophoric (it'll burn once it hits the target).

Added: Looks like it is tungsten:


Ballistic tests conducted by the Army have proven that the Liquidmetalģ tungsten composite KEP exhibits self-sharpening similar
to the DU KEP.

Added:

More here: http://www.mindfully.org/Nucs/2003/DU-Amorphous-Tungsten-Alloy30jul03.htm

I'll have to look into it, but this is pretty promising. Thanks.

Bob B.
2004-Dec-13, 01:34 PM
Yeah, F=MA is right. I just don't know what the acceleration should be.
Linear momentum will be conserved, which is given by P=MV. For example, if you fire a 100 kg projectile at 1,000 m/s the projectile's momentum is

P = MV = 1,000 x 100 = 100,000 kg-m/s

Since momentum is conserved, the ship will recoil with a momentum of equal magnitude but in the opposite direction. Thus, if you have a 50,000 kg ship, it will recoil with the following velocity:

V = P/M = 100,000 / 50,000 = 2 m/s

wedgebert
2004-Dec-13, 04:31 PM
I'm still for bomb-pumped lasers. It's a pretty simple concept (lasers powered by the detonation of a nuclear bomb). I believe the GoldenEye satellites from James Bond were variations of this concept.

Basically you get the advantage of guided projectiles, the power of nuclear weapons and the focus of laser weapons. All you have to do is get the missile close enough (no idea how long a range it has, in space I'd say hundreds of thousands of kilometers wouldn't seem outrageous.

Makgraf
2004-Dec-13, 05:57 PM
I'm still for bomb-pumped lasers. It's a pretty simple concept (lasers powered by the detonation of a nuclear bomb). I believe the GoldenEye satellites from James Bond were variations of this concept..
You could call them xasers! What, I think it sounds cool.

You might find this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=6697&view=previous) very useful it's also about warfare in space and very detailed. Lots of interesting stuff.

It also has a comment on nano-weapons:


I doubt [nano-weapons will] be significant. If your ship has just been blasted into radioactive fragments, no amount of nanotech is going to save you. And if you can hit your opponent with a nanite-filled-missile, you could have just as easily hit him with a nuke. Especially since the nanite-missile would have had to hit at a relatively low velocity for the nanites to survive the impact, while the nuke has no such limitation.

A lot of science fiction uses nanites as the technological equivalent of magic pixie dust, that can do anything the authors want it to. I'm trying to avoid magic technologies.

Edit: Fixed quote.

Damburger
2004-Dec-13, 06:01 PM
Right, I assume this war is going to be fought between ships in space mainly?

Too much sci-fi is stuck on the battleship model of combat - two massive ships firing weapons at each other until one blows up (Gene Roddenberry, I'm looking in your direction...). Given that battleships were made obselete by carriers for naval combat, you wouldn't be far off to assume a similar thing would happen with space combat.

Rather than having individual ships, you would more likely have 'clouds' of ships. A mothership would be at the centre of this cloud, and it would be surrounded by smaller ships who would engage hostile ships and attempt to detect and take out incoming projectiles.

This approach has numerous advantages. Having your ships well space (say, in the 100km range) gives you a nice big baseline for interferometry so it would be tough for an enemy warhead to penetrate the cloud. As the current NMD system shows, taking out fast projectiles with other fast projectiles is problematic, and although being exempt from gravity and drag would simplify the problem, some form of laser would probably be best.

Here the advantage of kinetic weapons would become clear. While a bulky nuclear bomb wouldn't be able to get to the mothership, a relativistic projectile would be near impossible to stop. Furthermore, a nuclear warhead can be incapacitated with relatively little energy (if you can take out its detonation mechanism). A simple bullet would have no delicate mechanism to ruin, so nothing short of vapourising it would do the trick.

Oh, and never undestimate the important of painting things black. When war consists of trying to get projectiles past vigilant enemy telescopes, a low albedo is essential.

SSJPabs
2004-Dec-13, 07:08 PM
Not really hard science at all, but see Robotech. Combat there while involving capital ships is by and large a fighter v. fighter affair and fighter v. capital ship affair.

So it might give you some viewpoints.

The thing with Nano-tech is that it might make repairing more efficient of course during a battle that wouldn't work, but I imagine it might be able to repair normal wear and tear caused by space dust etc. over a period of time with sufficient resources available like say in a spacedock or something.

eburacum45
2004-Dec-13, 09:14 PM
One piece of tech that might be made to work is the nuclear-pumped x-ray laser; it is a one shot weapon, as it gains its energy from the destruction of the craft it is in, so fire a salvo of them as missiles at the target; when the missile gets in range, it explodes and (in theory) sends a beam of x-rays at the target.

The advantage over a normal nuclear tipped missile is that the burst of x-rays arrives from a distance at light speed, but close enough to do damage; on the other hand a near miss by an ordinary nuclear weapon will have little effect because of the inverse square law.
To do damage an ordinary nuclear missile in space would need to penetrate the target, or very nearly do so.
One downside of the is that no-one has shown how well they work as weapons yet.

Ilya
2004-Dec-13, 09:28 PM
Too much sci-fi is stuck on the battleship model of combat - two massive ships firing weapons at each other until one blows up (Gene Roddenberry, I'm looking in your direction...). Given that battleships were made obselete by carriers for naval combat, you wouldn't be far off to assume a similar thing would happen with space combat.

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle "invented" Langston Field in their CoDominium/Motie universe exactly for that kind of combat to make sense. They also invented Alderson Jump (instantaneous travel between star systems, but only possible in few specific points in each system) in order for interstellar Empire, with hereditary nobility and naval tradition, to make sense.

TinFoilHat
2004-Dec-13, 11:04 PM
The problem with nanotech is that cell-sized machines crawling across the outside of a spaceship will need to be implausibly durable simply to survive the conditions. Ordinary UV light from the sun is strong enough to knock electrons out of place and disrupt molevular bonds, and when you're the size of a cell you can't survive much of that. Forget shielding your vital bits from the sun, nothing is completely opaque on those scales. These things also have no thermal mass to speak of and no insulation, so they're going to see severe temperature swings just going from the sunlit side to the dark side of the ship. I suspect that if we ever do manage to build self-reproducing machines that size, they'll end up with much of the environmental restrictions of actual living things.

Doe, John
2004-Dec-14, 01:04 AM
Again invoking Pournelle and the CoDominion. This time from the exploits of his greatest military mind John Falkenberg. An anti satellite weapon which was basically a shot gun shell on top of a big rocket. The rocket would boost the package into a satellites orbit path. The package would have a small "dispersion" charge which would place a cloud of 1cm cubes in the satellites path. Satellite extinction follows.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-14, 01:22 AM
Alright, here's what I'm thinking:

Missiles tipped with nuclear warheads and canisters of ball bearings. Get the missile moving toward the enemy, detonate the nuke and wait for the shrapnel to hit. Gets the balls moving quickly without much in the way of recoil (to the ship). Seems to be more effective than a nuclear-pumped laser -- the laser is short-lived and just wouldn't be as effective as a cloud of fast-moving metal balls. A relativistic rail-gun would be nice, but is a bit too advanced for me and would have massive recoil.

A few point-defense lasers (yes, you've convinced me) to attempt to destroy anything incoming and to be used against targets in the medium to short range. What wavelength would be best here? Gamma ray?

A couple of gatling-guns (like the Phalanx), also for defense and engaging of targets, but only for very short ranges.

Kinetic weapons, likely tungsten or "liquidmetal" rods, to attack certain surface structures and large vehicles. Fired at a relatively low velocity from a coilgun, letting gravity do the rest.

Lower velocity reentry vehicles to attack surface targets that cannot be dammaged by kinetic weapons. Maybe a type of cruise missile that drops bomblets to crater runways, that sort of thing.

Fighters are also out. If you can blow up an incoming missile, why not a fighter?

Well, am I missing anything?

Added: I agree that the battleship mode of combat is over-done. I'm picturing battles taking place in planetary or lunar orbits. It's simply too hard to find and destroy an enemy in interplanetary spcae. Given this, and given that I want to avoid battleships in space, what sort of tactics should I be using? (The cloud may not work in orbit)

Rich
2004-Dec-14, 01:09 PM
Hmmm, I think that ship size is important. It depends a great on how much technology you want to invent. If you want create some inertia saving or nullifying tech, size... errr mass, becomes quite a bit less important. If mass and inertia can't be nullified in your universe, you need to consider power next. What's driving your ships, how fast can they go given certain masses?

This is important as it leads you into your tactics. You will need to consider the terrain, maneuver, stealth, weapons' range and power, just to name a few important aspects. These will determine how your tactics play out.

Where are your oppenents battling? Sounds like near gravity wells. This will impact manuever and give the defenders a big advantage... they've got backup nearby. How will entering and exiting orbit present tactical problems or advantages? Can a "drive-by" against orbiting defenders be effective, i.e. attacking during a highspeed pass that will not put a ship into orbi or are the velocities too fast for good targetting? How far away can your opponents see each other? This will also impact maneuver, especially if they can see each other long before they are in effective weapons range. Will you have any stealth technologies that will reduce effective visual range? How big do your ships get and how much mass can they move? How maneuverable are they?

Once you consider some of this stuff you need to consider some logistical problems like supply. If you use mostly kinetic weapons, that means ammo. Depending on the propulsion systems you go with, there may be need to refuel. Both of these considerations give huge advantages to defenders.

I think you can move at least some combat away from larger planets and moons by focusing on resource mining of asteroids and cometary bodies throughout the system and Oort cloud. If you have a resource crunch, this would make sense as control of such resources would be a big focus of any strategic concerns. In fact, these would probably be the preferred source of building materials since you don't have to get them out of a planetary gravity well to use them. Much easier to bring space resources to space based manufacturing facilities (especially for a war effort) than to launch stuff from inside a planet's or large moon's gravity. (Again this all depends on a lot of your technology. If you have some sort of inertialess drive or gravity propulsion then you can just mine the heck out of the planets and forget about combing scattered asteroids for materials.)

This stuff really is a blast to think about. I guess we might need to know some more about some of what you are willing to allow in technobabble. If you can comment on what folks are fighting over and/or why without giving away any of your plot that might help as well. Defining the strategic aims of your opposing sides will define where they will do most of their fighting and this will help define what kinds of tactics they might develop.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-14, 05:40 PM
I suspect that if we ever do manage to build self-reproducing machines that size, they'll end up with much of the environmental restrictions of actual living things.

The reason life as we know it has these limits is from how much heat it takes to destroy the chemicals. Some chemicals that could go to make lifeforms are resistant up to around temp. that lead melts at. Think of it this way. You can ride a horse in 32 C weather fine but not in -40 C because they'll die. But a Artic truck runs fine and keeps you warm.

TinFoilHat
2004-Dec-15, 12:22 AM
The reason life as we know it has these limits is from how much heat it takes to destroy the chemicals. Some chemicals that could go to make lifeforms are resistant up to around temp. that lead melts at. Think of it this way. You can ride a horse in 32 C weather fine but not in -40 C because they'll die. But a Artic truck runs fine and keeps you warm.
The problem is, when you make a machine the size of these nanites, they'll start to have some of the same problems as living things. The truck isn't greatly sensitive to environmental extremes because it's made of great big pieces of metal, fairly low-tech stuff. You have to do gross macroscopic damage to make it stop working. A self-replicating nanite, on the other hand, with molecule-sized motors and transistors switched by single electron currents, is going to be *much* more fragile. Modern intergrated circuits are already miniaturized to the point where ultraviolet light can disrupt transistors and erase memory - but microchips are packaged in opaque cases so it's not an issue for them. A microscopic robot can't be opaque enough to protect its delicate insides from UV.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 12:24 AM
Well let's see...

Ship size will be relatively small -- no inertia or gravity dampening. I'm considering fusion drives, but I'm not sure what sort of power they can provide. No idea about mass yet, but it won't be anywhere near the mass of, say, Star Trek ships. Manoeuvrability depends mainly on whatever mass I choose, so that's up in the air.

Stealth will be fairly difficult (the fusion drives need to radiate heat), so it should be pretty easy to see your enemy in orbit. Though I suppose the radiators or reactor could be turned off for periods requiring stealth. In that case, passive stealth technologies (radar absorption, colour, etc.) will become effective.

Combat takes place mostly around gravity wells, but I like having combat around large, resource-rich asteroids as well. Resources would be easier to gather from asteroids, but not by much -- I'd like to have space elevators on Earth, Earth's Moon, Mars, and anything else that can handle it.

I suppose both sides' aims would be to simply capture a colony or mining station. In the case of a colony, orbital defences would first be destroyed, then surface targets would be softened up, finally culminating in the landing of ground forces. A mining stations could have it's space-based defences and defencive structures destroyed before the marines simply size it.

Drive-by (or fly-by) attacks are possible, but the defender will be able to see the attacker first -- there's no big planet to hide oneself against when one is coming from interplanetary space. I'm also thinking about orbital defence stations, but since they can't get out of the way, they're pretty vulnerable. Maybe increased detection range could offset this, I'm not sure.

It also seems likely that visual range (or thermal, or whatever) will be greater than effective weapons range.

Fuel and ammunition will be required, and this will make the defenders' lives easier. I don't see this as a bad thing, though, as there is really no action that can be taken to defend against an attack already made -- you can't stop a kinetic weapon. The only defence would be to fire and then move out of the way.

The conflict arises mainly from the aggression of one belligerent resulting from ideological differences. There have been tensions for decades and at least one previous conflict. Earth is currently the only planetary body where both powers coexist (other planets were the same in the past, bu the previous war drove one power off, and the increased presence of warships in orbit afterword precluded the colonization of a planet by more than one power. The first one there gains possession. This results in a race to colonize as many planets and moons as is possible). Demand for resources and real-estate (colonies) is also a major contributor to tensions.

As for technobabble, I would like to keep it to an absolute minimum. I want the combat and indeed the entire setting to be plausible.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 12:35 AM
Resources would be easier to gather from asteroids, but not by much -- I'd like to have space elevators on Earth, Earth's Moon, Mars, and anything else that can handle it.


You over estimate the strength of asteriod's gravity. Phobos's gravity is so weak you can take a few jumps to go around the whole thing. You could throw a baseball into orbit around it. Granted it's not 900km long like the biggest asteriod(forgotten the name) but for most of your mining asteriods their gravity would be like it or less. Think -100,000+ g. :)


Lasers don't obey the inverse square law because they are a beam of light traveling in one spatial direction. They're not like a light bulb where radiation goes in all directions.

Are some of your "humans" going to have massive genetic engineering and or robotic parts? Please. :D

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 12:43 AM
I agree that an asteroid's gravitational strength is very small and that the cost of pulling stuff out of it's gravity well is minuscule. I'm just saying that I'll have space elevators to reduce to cost of pulling stuff out of larger gravity wells.

I'm also pretty sure that lasers obey the inverse square law. There is a certain amount of difference in the direction of the photons, just nowhere near as much as from a light bulb. Laser strength would still diminish over distance. At short distances, the effect is barely noticeable, but I think the weapons ranges I want are too long for the beam to maintain its coherence.

Added: Genetic engineering and mechanical body parts? Sorry. Maybe a little mechanization, but only in the case of injury. Perhaps a mechanical eye. While cool, extensive modification wouldn't really fit. :)

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 12:47 AM
Genetic engineering and mechanical body parts? Sorry. Maybe a little mechanization, but only in the case of injury. Perhaps a mechanical eye. While cool, extensive modification wouldn't really fit. :)

Kind of going with the Trek attitude? :wink: You could just replace the lost eye with stem cell grown parts.

You might want to read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_fountain

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 12:50 AM
True, but mechanical eyes look cool...

Okay, bad argument. :)
Maybe I'll have them clone an eye, or a leg, or whatever is needed. Heck, maybe just grow organs in place.

Added: The space fountain certainly is interesting, but I worry about its durability in a conflict situation. Blow up the power station, the structure comes down. I'm also not sure about what would happen if there was a meteor strike along its length. With a spcae elevator, it would be a simple matter of repairing broken segments. A catastrophic failure would require the cable to be severed. A catastrophic failure in a space fountain could be caused by simply damaging the acceleration mechanisms or by obstructing the pellets' path.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 12:55 AM
I'm also pretty sure that lasers obey the inverse square law. There is a certain amount of difference in the direction of the photons, just nowhere near as much as from a light bulb. Laser strength would still diminish over distance. At short distances, the effect is barely noticeable, but I think the weapons ranges I want are too long for the beam to maintain its coherence.


That's the whole thing though. The Inverse Square Law--> http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/isq.html

Lasers don't drop off like that; but they do over long distances. Example: The beam of a laser pointer is 5 feet wide after traveling a mile. I might have the math a little off but I think it's about right. If you're wanting to punch a hole in a ship tens of thousands of km away you'd need a powerful laser but they couldn't dodge it like a fusion tipped missle.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 12:59 AM
True, but mechanical eyes look cool...

Okay, bad argument. :)
Maybe I'll have them clone an eye, or a leg, or whatever is needed. Heck, maybe just grow organs in place.

With a bit of GE they could regrow on their own lost limbs and other organs like some salamanders can. You could stop with that level.

Please oh please give them Respirocytes--> http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Respirocytes1.html#Sec1

Ok, maybe I should stop. :oops:

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 01:01 AM
True, but I don't think the lasers available will be powerful (and compact) enough for long ranges. Short to medium ranges, sure, but long range weapons should be kinetic. Hard to see, still very fast, and hard to dodge. Besides, a cloud of fragments would do more damage than a point of intense heat. Lasers would be incredibly useful in destroying incoming weapons (well, not kinetic ones) as well as being very useful at shorter ranges when used in conjunction with kinetic weapons.

Added: Hey, that's pretty cool. I'd still prefer to have growth induced by a medic or doctor, though. Artificial respiration cells are a bit too much as well. I don't want the story to have too much of a high-tech magic feel to it. I'm going to have to read that site in more detail, though. You've interested me...

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 01:23 AM
I don't want the story to have too much of a high-tech magic feel to it.

You say it's going to be set around 2135 so they would have technology that would seem somewhat magical to the untrained eye(Clark's 3 law) Imagine what the Wright Brothers would make of the Hyper X, Space Shuttle etc. If you lived in 1880 what do you think you'd make of cellphones, TVs, computers, video games, Indy cars, nuclear submarines, the ISS, moon landings, helicopters, lasers, sonic beams--> http://www.howstuffworks.com/news-item190.htm etc. Don't break physics but have cool stuff. I want to read about cool stuff. :) You'll tell us the name of the book when you're done won't you?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 01:30 AM
Added: Hey, that's pretty cool. I'd still prefer to have growth induced by a medic or doctor, though. Artificial respiration cells are a bit too much as well. I don't want the story to have too much of a high-tech magic feel to it. I'm going to have to read that site in more detail, though. You've interested me...

It's not like Wolverine's ability in X-Men. I'd take several weeks unless the metabolism was speed up to. Boosted with nanotech maybe it could be down to an hour or so but this fast healing would really cut into your story wouldn't it? They'd have to do better than shoot foes in the chest. They'd have to blow heads apart like a bomb to make sure they weren't coming back in a few weeks. Ewwww.

Powered armor for your marines might be an idea--> http://physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=11534&page=1&pp=15

Just be careful not to look anything like Starship Troopers or the plagiarized Armor.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 02:10 AM
Powered armour is essential. Maybe even a form of adaptive camouflage. Nothing fancy, just able to change from, say, urban camo to arctic when needed. Maybe more advanced than that.

I'm not sure I want to mess with the human genome, though. Always seems messy to me. (Not literally - well, that too - but it just doesn't seem to work well in stories. It gets me thinking about future implications, and thing just blow up from there...)

Oh, the name, right! Sure I'll tell you when it's done. :D

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 02:19 AM
I'm not sure I want to mess with the human genome, though. Always seems messy to me. (Not literally - well, that too - but it just doesn't seem to work well in stories. It gets me thinking about future implications, and thing just blow up from there...)


Yeah, the endless thinking is what has killed my Thebann stories for now. I just keep finding flaws that would destroy its premises. I seem to have the drawing talent but not writing. And maybe I'm just anal-retentive about making the logic and science perfect. :)

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 02:24 AM
Yeah, that's generally where I get stuck. And it's just so easy to make stuff up... I can tell you I've been tempted. But I don't think I'd be very satisfied with the result if I did.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 02:40 AM
So are your ships going to have gravity? Remember to read the BA's articles on how Mission to Mars, Red Planet etc. get rotating rings for "gravity" wrong.

If you could have a zero g knife fight that would be to cool. The bad guy is killed by a poisoned throwing knife or something. Throwing knives would fly straight in zero g.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 02:46 AM
Artificial gravity in ships will be provided by acceleration only. No gravity while in orbit. Hopefully I can get enough output from fusion engines (and a small enough rate of fuel consumption) that this will work out. On a related note, what exactly are the conditions for a powered orbit? I assume that it is only achievable if the orbit decays naturally. If not, then I can have gravity while in orbit.

Space stations and space elevator stations will have gravity provided by two rings (or cylinders) rotating in opposite directions. Lower space elevator stations will not have rotating sections; they are sufficiently influenced by the planet's gravity that they will experience reduced gravity toward the surface.

Damburger
2004-Dec-15, 02:46 AM
Added: I agree that the battleship mode of combat is over-done. I'm picturing battles taking place in planetary or lunar orbits. It's simply too hard to find and destroy an enemy in interplanetary spcae. Given this, and given that I want to avoid battleships in space, what sort of tactics should I be using? (The cloud may not work in orbit)

How come you think my cloud idea won't work in orbit? It would require more fuel and/or bringing the cloud closer together, but altering your orbital height a few kms and keeping the same angular velocity wouldn't be too hard for a civilisation that can build fleets of spaceships.

The single ship paradigm which dominates sci-fi (probably because it allows all the characters to share a living space) has always nagged at me because such ships would be ridiculously easy to destroy with a present day (or for that matter a 1940s) nuclear warhead.

Speaking of nuclear weapons, they behave differently in outer space. I'm not sure of the details, but one of the main destructive components of them on Earth is the pressure wave, which won't happen in a vaccuum. I think they will act as simply very intense sources of radiation.

One other thing - how viable are antimatter weapons in your universe?

If they are easy to make, then ships have to contend with something the size of a ping-pong ball being able to destroy them (one of the reasons I thought of clouds of ships in the first place). Antimatter devices are also harder to take out, because destroying the mechanism will always set it off, whereas destroying the mechanism of a nuclear weapon usually stops it going off.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 02:51 AM
Maybe it was the term "cloud" that threw me. You probably meant squadron (in the naval sense) but in 3 dimensions. Right?

You're right about nuclear weapons. You won't even get an EMP. (It's caused by interactions with the atmosphere at high and low altitudes)

Anti-matter is still difficult to obtain in my universe, though it is in development. Advances in magnetic containment made in during the development of fusion power (and engines) make containment easier; it is mainly cost and quantity that are problems.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-15, 03:00 AM
What kind strength of gamma pulse is given off by antimatter reactions anyway. Antimatter is what allows my planetary devistator(which I'm not going to describe, its mine.) to work.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-15, 03:14 AM
I wish I could tell you. Bet it's impressive, though.

Rich
2004-Dec-15, 12:40 PM
From your descriptions Canuck, it sounds as if maybe a destroyer sized vessel with <100 crew might be your "big" ship. That's cool. You've got limited mass and limited room for systems, depending on how far you want to take miniaturization.

As for your smaller more nimble craft, I would make the suggestion that you consider having them unmanned or remotely piloted. With a fusion power source they would most likely be fast and nimble. This will present something of a problem for human pilots without any sort of inertial dampening. The most effective space combat "fighter" type craft will be able to make maneuvers that would squish a pilot into red goo, kill him in a less dramatic fashion, or render him at least unable to maintain consciousness. A craft piloted remotely by computer or from a command ship/base would be much more effective than a piloted ship. Of course, out in the boonies of space without specialized ships or bases human pilots might come into their own. We have the tech now to go fully pilotless with top-end fighter/bomber craft, if we weren't so hung up on the human element.

Something to consider with regard to your ships' power capabilities and the heat they generate is conservation of momentum. A long burn beyond "scanner" range can be cut off allowing a vessel to cruise in to a target area. Perhaps even undetected if they are stealthily equipped. Of course if you can see an engine burn from halfway across the solar system, that has strategic advantages and disadvantages as well. Might someone mount more conventional engines (with less heat) on a ship to alter course after the initial engine burn tells an enemy where momentum should carry them?

I think you might see some physiological changes in your spacers after just a few generations. There's plenty of sci-fi out there on the subject already. Certainly there would be some advantages, agility, ease of movement in a weightless environment. The biggest disadvantage perhaps that if a gravity dwelling cousin gets the jump on a spacer (in any gravity) the spacer is most certainly dead. Without mechanical help, there is no way a spacer would have the body mass, muscle, or bone strength to tussle in a hands-on fight. If the spacer is good however, the gravity boy would never lay a hand on him.

The jolted something out of my brain about some of the physical adaptations spacers might have to make. With just a few generations I don't think massive evolution would take place to allow long life in freefall. Spacers would need medical implants to keep their blood flowing, perhaps every long-term or borne spacer would require an artificial heart just to keep their blood flowing. Or you could go the bio-engineering route. After a couple of generations dedicated spacers start to tinker with their own DNA to produce offspring more suited to permanent life outside of a gravity well.

Anyway, I'll try to think more about what kind of tactics would be useful to your combatants. I still think x-ray and microwave weapons would be pretty handy.
- "Ummmm, Captain is it getting warm in here or is it just me?"
- "Captain to galley, stop food preparation we are at a combat alert!" "Sir, we're not cooking anything...." "Hmmm, what smells like roast chicken then... oooohh that's me..."

eburacum45
2004-Dec-15, 03:01 PM
The reaction of 1 kg of antimatter with 1 kg of matter would produce 1.8◊10e17 J of energy (by the equation E=mc2).
from here
http://www.thebestlinks.com/Antimatter.html

One kilogram of antimatter could be used to create a 43 megaton explosion, which is larger than several thousand nuclear bombs
(I think they mean Hiroshima Bombs)
from here
http://www.cem.msu.edu/~cem181fp/antimatter/antimatter.html

captain swoop
2004-Dec-15, 03:10 PM
Back in the 80s when 2000AD was still cool there was a surface bombardment weapon in Rogue Trooper called 'Hard Rain' it was an area effect weapon consisting of thousands of metal 'darts', it was designed to rip infantry and armour formations to pieces. It was under the tactical control of company level commanders.

SSJPabs
2004-Dec-15, 03:34 PM
Also don't forget other effects of going fully auto on all your fighter craft, I don't mean just the chance of their turning on you (i.e. hacking into the guidance packages and switching FoF tags) but the effect on the way people think about war and the social aspects.

It would become more of a question of "do we have the resources" and individual lives would matter less than they do now. And some aspects of war becomes much easier to wage both in space and on the ground. So there might be more wars more often too.

Would you be able to have an occupying force of androids, or robots I guess? Would these be fully automated or remote piloted craft?

Lianachan
2004-Dec-15, 04:04 PM
Sorry if anybody else has already suggested this - fairly low tech - suggestion, I've not read the entire thread yet.

A good weapon for use in space would be standard issue sand. Being closely pursued by an enemy ship? No problem, drop a load of sand in its path and see the damage it does to its hull. You can disperse it over quite a wide area, and while it can be avoided (throwing your pursuer off his pursuit course) it cannot be jammed or destroyed.

Gravel would be good too.

:D

Bob B.
2004-Dec-15, 04:08 PM
The big problem I've always seen in sci-fi space battles is in how orbital mechanics is depicted. They always show spacecraft manuevering around like aircraft. I have a hard time believing that two manned fleets could maneuver themselves into position for a short-range fight unless the two fleets are intentionally trying to rendezvous with each other to engage in a pitched battle, and that seems very unlikely. If any two spacecraft could manage to close the distance on one another, I think it would end up being a very fast flyby with a limited engagement time. What's the point of doing all that maneuvering just to take a couple quick shots as they streak be each other? I tend to believe space battles will take place over longer distances using missiles of some sort, with the large manned spacecraft maneuvering very little.

Missiles could be launched on a faster more direct trajectory and could detonate themselves with some sort of proximity fuse, thus the fast flyby velocity would not be a problem. I just don't see close-in flighter-to-fighter engagements happening.

tofu
2004-Dec-15, 04:33 PM
Supreme Canuck, what are people fighting over in your story? If you can travel in space it almost seems that you'd have unlimited access to most resources and thus less reason to fight.

Also, if you haven't seen orbiter you should really check it out:
http://orbitersim.com

It's free and it uses realistic physics (the creater is a phd). You might actually be able to play out some senarios and get a feel for the time and distances involved.

SSJPabs
2004-Dec-15, 05:31 PM
Supreme Canuck, what are people fighting over in your story? If you can travel in space it almost seems that you'd have unlimited access to most resources and thus less reason to fight.

Also, if you haven't seen orbiter you should really check it out:
http://orbitersim.com

It's free and it uses realistic physics (the creater is a phd). You might actually be able to play out some senarios and get a feel for the time and distances involved.I could never figure out how to make Orbiter work, probably because I'm a legal student and not an engineer. But some plausible reasons for war besides resources is:

aliens (racial superiority, also with humans)
ideology
altruism (to free enslaved peoples or take down tyrants)

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-16, 01:17 AM
Rich:

The big ships sounds about right, but small fighters seem implausible to me. Again, if you can shoot down a missile, why not a fighter? Long range engagements would probably be the norm.

Allowing the ships to cruise will of course be an integral part of tactics. It allows for a certain amount of surprise, even if you get to the target a bit slower (and in zero g).

As for physiological changes, I'd like pretty much everyone to be able to function at one g. They'll have to take supplements, etc., but I think this can be done. Right? Sure there will be some differences, but I'd like to keep them to a minimum. Just a personal thing, really. I like things to be tidy. :wink:

Well.

I'll have to do a bit more reading on microwave and x-ray weapons, but they sound like they could be very useful.

captain swoop:

Sounds interesting, but I think there are better ways to deal with small ground forces than orbital bombardment. It's just too hard to do.

SSJPabs:

I'm going to try to minimize automation such as this. It's easier to write a story about people when they actually matter. I mean, really, who wants to read about ten thousand robots deactivating each other? (Okay, bad question - that would be cool. That's just not the story I'm going for)

lianachan:

Sounds a bit like what I suggested for missiles. Send them at the target and blow them up before reaching it. The fragments (and the ball bearings - or the sand - that you've filled it with) keep moving toward the target, shredding it. Great fun!

Bob B.:

I see space combat pretty much the way you do. Either flybys, long-range engagements (though not often - space is big) or fairly long-range engagements in orbit around something. No fighters or very close combat - it's simply too easy to destroy your enemy before they can get that close. I've written space fighters off as useless, but I can see fighters being carried by certain ships for support of surface operations.

tofu:

The conflict is caused mainly by ideological differences, but also to gain places to dump excess population. I threw resources in as well, but you make an excellent point. Thanks.

I will look into Orbiter as well. I've been meaning to, but I just keep forgetting.

Well. Thanks all for your input, it really does help to bounce my ideas off someone. Don't stop now! :)

captain swoop
2004-Dec-16, 11:39 AM
I would think that an Armoured Division deploying would'nt count as a small target and while it's concentrating behind the lines it would be voulnerable to attack. At the least the threat of 'Hard Rain' would force the armour to stay dispersed if nothing else.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-16, 11:46 AM
Back in the 80s when we played the 'Traveller' RPG Sandcasters were fitted to the ships to disrupt incoming beam weapons and missiles.

JonnyWishbone
2004-Dec-16, 01:47 PM
Well, two suggestions from extant sf works of moments where I went 'Wow, that's a good idea.'

In David Brin's Startide Rising, an Earth ship with a crew that includes dolphins dumps water while it's evading a superior pursuer. Hilarity ensues.

In Harry Harrison's Starworld, a rebel human fleet goes toe to toe with the Imperial Earth fleet in what is the first space battle in human history. The Imperial fleet relies on missiles and interceptor missiles. The rebel fleet, stuck with thinking around things, uses what amount to EM-driven cannonballs and metal darts in return. Hilarity ensues again. There's a lot of exposition in the Harrison novel, but the battle's pretty neat, and starts off with an in-joke as one of the rebel scientists watches a thinly-disguised version of the opening scene of Star Wars on tape before launching into his explanation of why most popular representations of space battles are ludicrous.

Cheers, Jon

captain swoop
2004-Dec-16, 04:17 PM
I am not a fan of the poor 'low tech' but crafty underdogs beating the high-tech 'superior' force. It's never happened anywhere in history when the 'high - tech' modern army has met the 'underdogs' in head on open and unrestricted warfare the underdogs always lose. I don't include Guerilla campaigns in this or campaigns hampered by political considerations. Rifles beat Muskets, Muskets beat Arrows, Arrows beat Spears, Jets beat Spitfires etc. I don't see why it would be any different in Space. I don't go for the line that some civilisation is so high tech they can't beat good old fashioned whatever it is the heroes use against them either.

Grogs1
2004-Dec-16, 04:29 PM
On Lasers vs. The Inverse Square Law:

It's impossible to create a perfectly linear laser (doesn't spread) without making it infinitely long. As such, any spreading beam of light follows the inverse square law. It should, however, be possible to focus the laser (We did this in our optics classes.) The focal length would need to be movable and set before firing to the appropriate distance for the target.

On imaging systems:

I think imaging is at the heart of the dilemma here. You have to be able to see and track your enemy before you can destroy him. One thing that seems to be consistent in aerial combat is that the one who spots the other first usually wins the fight. In WWII, this consisted of smart tactics (flying with the sun behind you) and good eyesight. In modern times, it's usually the guy with the best technology (AWACS, stealth technology, etc.)

When it comes to spaceships, I think you have to look at what the ships are using to detect one another. Are they actively pinging away with RADAR (or perhaps another form of EM would be more appropriate in space) or using passive sensors? There's a trade off to be made here. With active sensors it's easier to spot the enemy, but easier to be spotted.
This is important for missiles too. What are they tracking? Heat? Radar? Or maybe just using passive sensors? You can see where this is leading to. ECM-to-ECCM-to-etc. I think if you can nail down in your mind the state of imaging technology in your universe, it will guide you to the tactics the ships are using (i.e., how far apart/at what relative speed are engagements happening -> what type of weapons will be effective.)

Planetary combat:

I think that given the level of technology you're describing, large scale planetary conquest would be difficult to impossible. The logistics of moving enough troops to take a heavily populated colony (millions?) would be extremely difficult. I think such combat would be conducted with more of a seige mentality: Stop the flow of supplies, bombard selected targets, and use small, highly maneuverable strike forces to capture critical targets. Effectively, the goal of the attackers would be to defeat the defenders ability and/or will to resist and ultimately force them to give in.

This all assumes of course that your goal is to capture the enemy colony, not just obliterate it.

Edit: grammar corrections

Ilya
2004-Dec-16, 05:49 PM
I am not a fan of the poor 'low tech' but crafty underdogs beating the high-tech 'superior' force. It's never happened anywhere in history when the 'high - tech' modern army has met the 'underdogs' in head on open and unrestricted warfare the underdogs always lose. I don't include Guerilla campaigns in this or campaigns hampered by political considerations.

You should include guerilla campaigns. NO guerilla force EVER won a war against a technologically and/or logistically superior foe without an outside assistance. Granted, sometimes (e.g. Maccabees against Syrian Empire) the "assistance" was in the form of pressure by a rival empire (Rome in that case) which cared not a whit about the guerillas, except using them as a tool.

Otherwise, I completely agree with you. BTW, I absolutely hate this all-too-common SF plot -- advanced, but stogy and unimaginative aliens, who are caught completely off guard by "primitive" humans' inventiveness and adaptability. That has been done to death more times than I can count, and I did not like it even the first time! (I'd give a pass to "The Course of Empire" by Flint and Wentworth because in it a) unimaginative aliens have an excuse - they were MADE that way, and b) their makers are so far out, they are BEYOND imagination.)

JonnyWishbone
2004-Dec-17, 11:42 AM
I am not a fan of the poor 'low tech' but crafty underdogs beating the high-tech 'superior' force. It's never happened anywhere in history when the 'high - tech' modern army has met the 'underdogs' in head on open and unrestricted warfare the underdogs always lose. I don't include Guerilla campaigns in this or campaigns hampered by political considerations. Rifles beat Muskets, Muskets beat Arrows, Arrows beat Spears, Jets beat Spitfires etc. I don't see why it would be any different in Space. I don't go for the line that some civilisation is so high tech they can't beat good old fashioned whatever it is the heroes use against them either.

Sorry if it was my post that prompted your ire, captain. To clarify a bit, Brin's humans don't stand a chance against the hostile alien races they deal with, even with two major alien allies -- they spring a couple of surprises in the six books of the Uplift series so far, but Brin does a nice job of making it clear that the surprises only work once, and humanity is seriously outgunned.

As to Harrison's series -- well, his rebels actually take the technological high ground out of necessity and still rely on mutiny and help from within the Imperial government to actually 'win.' Or at least I'd assume vast banks of rail guns would be higher tech than missiles.

Cheers, Jon

captain swoop
2004-Dec-17, 12:19 PM
No real Ire :)

I don't see how a rail gun is particularly high tech, all you need is a bunch of electromagnets and some switches.

I remember reading a Star Trek story somewhere (May have been an RPG scenario in the dim distant 80s. A bunch of rebels had hikacked a Rail Gun being used to launch Ore pods from a moon into orbit around a planet for collection and delivery to the surface, anyway they started using it to launch the ore pods at the planet instead.

I would bacj a missile against a Rail Gun, for a start you can intercept and destroy the projectile with a missile.

JonnyWishbone
2004-Dec-17, 12:52 PM
Yeah, the problem for the guys with the missiles in Harrison's scenario is that they're expecting ships with the same armaments -- missiles and anti-missile missiles, essentially -- and instead face immense fields of small, fast-moving projectiles. Harrison does a much better job of describing it, but the basic premise isn't to fire a few large things with a large rail gun, but huge numbers of small things over and over again in what amounts to mass fire. The missiles punch holes in the first couple of volleys and then the fleet proceeds to get wrecked.

Cheers, Jon

captain swoop
2004-Dec-17, 02:05 PM
Why would the fleet expect to only face missiles? That's the sort of artificial constraint that authors use, I find it annoying. It's like the aliens in Poul Andersons High Crusade being beaten by a handful of Crusaders armed with bows, swords and pits full of spikes.

JonnyWishbone
2004-Dec-17, 03:36 PM
Well, as laid out over about fifty pages, the military is heavily bureaucratized; hasn't ever fought a war in space; is commanded by an admiral who's overconfident because he has numbers on his side, expects that the rebels are limited to the armaments available on the few military ships they've captured or had come over to their side, and holds the defected enemy admiral in contempt because of personal acquaintance; and is dealing with massively faulty intelligence caused by incompetence and information planted by people on the inside.

Cheers, Jon

Ilya
2004-Dec-17, 04:27 PM
It's like the aliens in Poul Andersons High Crusade being beaten by a handful of Crusaders armed with bows, swords and pits full of spikes.

Perefect example of what I was talking about.


Well, as laid out over about fifty pages, the military is heavily bureaucratized; hasn't ever fought a war in space; is commanded by an admiral who's overconfident because he has numbers on his side, expects that the rebels are limited to the armaments available on the few military ships they've captured or had come over to their side, and holds the defected enemy admiral in contempt because of personal acquaintance; and is dealing with massively faulty intelligence caused by incompetence and information planted by people on the inside.

I don't buy it. Not that this kind of institutional ossification can not happen -- it can, and had happened in history, Imperial China was perfect example. What I don't buy is that it could happen in the face of a growing rebellion. Armed rebellions do not appear out of nowhere. Dissatisfied groups always first try to address their grievances through the system, simply because that approach is less likely to get them killed. When that fails, at first only the most desperate and/or risk-loving turn to violence -- the rest cling to the "talk it out approach" for a while, because they are afraid of the alternative. It's human nature -- when one course of action is scary, you rationalize the other course until it very clearly does not work.

End result is -- by the time a full-scale rebellion breaks out, the military will have some experience in space combat. And because the elements who began fighting earliest were (at the time) also the worst-equipped, the military will have some experience with improvised and creative tactics. There may still be a consummate donkey on top, but field officers will have a better idea what they are dealing with.

JonnyWishbone
2004-Dec-17, 06:24 PM
Hmm. I think synopsizing the plot occurences that lead to the situation I've described in Harrison's trilogy would probably cause your contrivance-meter to jump off the scales (and probably hijack the thread), Ilya, so I think I'll let that go. It's an odd trilogy, and not as good (or cohesive) as Harrison's much-earlier Deathworld trilogy -- odd mainly because I can't think of another trilogy that consists of an Orwellian dystopia, a planetary trek/quest and a pitched space-and-land battle between an Empire and its rebellion. And yeah, that's the plot of each novel in sequence. The hopeless first novel is the most realistic, especially in its depiction of geopolitics and the possibility of a revolution against the posited world government of the trilogy. But given your interest in history, you might find Deathworlds 2 and 3 more interesting.

Cheers, Jon

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-18, 01:34 AM
How are you intending to get the powered armor troops back up into orbit after their missions?

How will they get around on the moons and planets? I mean their various forms of conveyance other than their muscle exoskeletal suits.

What kind of rifles do they have? Lasers? If you use my blade disk gun maybe put a little credit for me in the back of the book.

If you're going to have combat on Earth to you might want to use the futuristic version of these--> http://www.first-to-fly.com/Program%20Images/Kit/!23%20rotary%20wing.jpg It's something the military is looking into to get around the small top speed of helicopters. Something like a Chinook copter but with these rotary wings instead of helicopter blades. Maybe your "copters" could be fusion powered and go supersonic.
Entomopter copters--> http://avdil.gtri.gatech.edu/RCM/RCM/Entomopter/EntomopterProject.html
Chinook sized versions of future versions of these might be how your troops would fly on Mars and Titan. This is all barring anti-gravity which may or may not happen someday.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-18, 04:32 AM
Check this baby out. http://www.promotex.ca/articles/cawthon/2002/images/11-01-2002-3.jpg

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-18, 06:06 PM
Well, I'm not sure what sort of detection technology would be effective over long distances. I'm sure that RADAR and LIDAR would have their places, as would IR imaging, but would they do well over long distances? Would there be something better?

As for planetary combat, I really hadn't considered it in too much detail yet, since I wanted to nail down space combat first. But now's as good a time as any to deal with it, I guess. It's true that large-scale ground campaigns on other worlds would not be able to occur due to limitations on transportation. The only occurrences of such conflicts in the story would occur on Earth and planets that have been colonized by both powers. Otherwise, the strategy of cutting off supplies, bombarding from orbit and finally sending a small strike force (100 000 for a planet? 500 000?) would be employed.

Getting troops and armour back into orbit would require the use of space elevators (where available) or surface-to-orbit planes. Both methods would be very slow, but I'd assume that the troops would stick around to occupy the place for quite some time anyway.

Weapons would not be laser-based at all (other than targeting, etc.) since power requirements would be far too large to be satisfied by something handheld. Just advanced forms of projectile and explosive weapons, was well as some sort of body armour, definitely with its own life support, probably powered. Any suggestions here?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-20, 04:47 AM
well as some sort of body armour, definitely with its own life support, probably powered. Any suggestions here?

Read the powered armor thread I linked. It might take you a few hours to read if you go at it slow and think about the stuff hard but will bring to light obstacles you might not have thought about with exoskeletons. Also some of the cool things they will be able to do.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-20, 05:17 AM
Yeah, I started to look through it, but I'll have to read it in more detail. Thanks for reminding me.

From what I've read so far, it seems that power is the main concern. No idea how to fix this. Long-life batteries?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-20, 05:47 AM
Yeah, I started to look through it, but I'll have to read it in more detail. Thanks for reminding me.

From what I've read so far, it seems that power is the main concern. No idea how to fix this. Long-life batteries?

Later in the thread super conducting loops are suggested. Your people have fusion reactors, how small can they make them? Basketball size, smaller? If so you have your power problem solved.

No, batteries wouldn't work unless they can be boosted to unthinkable levels. In the near term ultracapacitors, really efficient fuel cells, high speed flywheels, small quiet turbine engines or super conducting loops is probably what would be used.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-20, 06:58 AM
Superconductors? Perfect. This is a mainstay technology in my little universe. I'll have to finish the thread, but I think this may be my answer. Thanks again.

Quantum_Raider
2004-Dec-22, 02:53 AM
A series I read a while ago now was Peter F. Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction. This has some quite good angles on space warfare - using swarms of torpedos (kinetic, hard radiation, etc) and planetary bombardment (kinetic).

As for small ships, possibly these can be used as stealth type launchers or as surprise attacks (all depending on the situation). They can easily hide behind rocks and launch torpedos or swarms of torpedos.

Mines are also something that may work, perhaps in orbit around a planet or moon ... ?

(I'm a newb at this kind of stuff - have no idea whether they'd be detectable from the ground or space)

Rich
2004-Dec-22, 08:09 AM
It doesn't sound like you really need to worry much about the logistics of carting millions of troops around. Unless heavy terraforming has occured in the next 150 years before your story starts, most non-Earth settlements will be moderately sized and self-contained. An asteroid is easy: land a company of marines and you've captured even a fairly large boulder. On mars, you can just capture the agricultural centers and a few other key logistical centers. If you already are limiting the movement of opposition through the control of space... you can just seige them out.

Your feedback is affirming my feeling that destroyer-sized vessels will be the norm for you. Sounds like you'll be having some very EM, ECM, ECCM centered combat as others have pointed out. So really, your tactics and combat will revolve around stealth and detection. Weapons choices are almost moot at that point. Your battles will devolve into measures and counter-measures in detection until one side can get a "lock" on the other. Almost certainly the guys who detect the other first will win. Getting the first salvo of any weapon off will be the key. Though if you've missed you've also just given your position away. Certainly energy weapons will be noticed and directionally detected, and kinetic weapons will be traced back to the source.

I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss the possibility of fighter/bomber style craft. If the size of your major ships are limited then space... and their means of defending against smaller craft is also limited. You can only fit so many point defense weapons in among your primary weapons and all the electronic detection and counter-measure gear. Larger fleets can afford to specialize, of course, and have picket ships and the like.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-22, 08:44 AM
Why not counter fighter/bombers attacking your fleet in the same way that it's done today, with your own fighters?

Carriers would still be the mainstay of the fleet.

Rich
2004-Dec-22, 08:46 AM
I am not a fan of the poor 'low tech' but crafty underdogs beating the high-tech 'superior' force. It's never happened anywhere in history when the 'high - tech' modern army has met the 'underdogs' in head on open and unrestricted warfare the underdogs always lose. I don't include Guerilla campaigns in this or campaigns hampered by political considerations. Rifles beat Muskets, Muskets beat Arrows, Arrows beat Spears, Jets beat Spitfires etc. I don't see why it would be any different in Space. I don't go for the line that some civilisation is so high tech they can't beat good old fashioned whatever it is the heroes use against them either.

I'd take exception to this. This simply isn't always true. First, when the technological expanse isn't that great one side can catch up. Usually what happens is that after initial setbacks the underdogs mimick or find ways to circumvent supposedly superior technology. Second, sometimes shear numbers can win out. Fifty guys with rifles vs. 10,000 calvary men with spears will typically lose. Third, "superior" technology has it's limits. Europeans with supposedly superior weaponry typically got their butts handed to them against the "inferior" natives in North America for more than 200 years. Europeans, and later the U.S., took a lot of what they got through trickery, crookery, and the decimation of native populations by transplanted diseases. There was little outright battle, and until after the Civil War there were good reasons U.S. troops did not tend to engage in pitched battles with native Americans... they didn't tend to do very well.

Why was this the case though? Weren't the musket and early rifles "superior" technology? At first glance. But those weapons were inaccurate and had a slow rate of fire. Bows tend to be very accurate (in skilled hands) and in modern demonstrations have proved to have a rate of fire anywhere from 2-5 times those of early muskets and 2-3 times those of early rifles. Hence, Custer's last stand.

That and the fact that there are great advantages to being on the defense in your own territory: internal lines of supply, a friendly and helpful populations, better intelligence, and knowledge of the land and weather...
to name a few.

Not to mention that superior weapons when matched with inferior tactics will frequently mean little. Germany started WWII, with evenly matched and perhaps somewhat inferior equipment, but had vastly superior tactics and won battle after battle. Of course, due to a poor strategic plan they squandered later technological superiority that might have won them the war. For example if they had used their superior aircraft technology for defense instead of in attack roles, they might have kept more industries intact and been able to better supply their troops.

Another great example were the Mongols. They not only had largely inferior weapons (compared to the European tribes and city-states they conquered) but were almost always out-numbered. They used superior mobility, excellent maneuver, and superior communications capabilities, to defeat almost every foe they encountered.

Didn't mean to get off on a rant, this is just an old saw that doesn't really hold up when the entirety of history is examined. It is usually the case that the folks with the better weapons win, but clearly not always.

mid
2004-Dec-22, 10:39 AM
By not including Guerilla campaigns, I'd suggest you were somewhat cheating, though. When your firepower isn't enough to beat the opposition in a straight fight, then being sneaky is surely the only sensible way forward.

The guys with the fancy weaponry often lose, because the poor guys with the cheap stuff are more desperate. They don't have to "win", they just have to make things difficult enought that the affluent side with all the firepower pack up and go home because it's not worth it any more.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-22, 12:54 PM
The British conquored India through superior technology. Indian armies were typicaly armed with bows, matchlocks and some cannon. Company forces always had the upper hand and more emodern weaponry. winning battles while outnumbered up to 40 to 1. As for weight of numbers Havelocks column that relieved Lucknow had around 3000 men, half of whome at any time were unavaiable for combat, they beat forces of up to 20,000 composed mainly of mutinied regiments of Sepoys.

Company troops and regular British forces were outnumbered at around 70 - 1 by mutinying Indian regiments, they had Enfield Rifles and Armstrong Breech loaders against muskets and cannon

Rourkes Drift in the Zulu wars is another famous example. Don't go too much by the film, the actual defenders had a Gatling gun.

HMS Warrior rendered eevery other warship afloat obsolete overnight. No other ship could stand against it, French 'Ironclads' that it was designed as a counter to were wooden ships with iron plates bolted on, Warrior was an Iron ship with laminated armour, central battery and steam propulsion as it's primary power (although it retained a full set of sail for extended cruising)

Centimetric radar defeated the U-Boat as they could pick up an object as small as a periscope or Schnorkel head and allow an air attack, even in the dark.

Bayonets allowed the English to defeat the Scots at Culloden, they could fire and still defend, previously you relied on pikemen to defend your muskets or they used a crude 'plug' bayonet that fitted into the muzzle. Up until Waterloo Sergeants carried a short Pike as a mark of rank in Line regiments.

Machine Guns rendered horse cavelry obsolete overnight.

I am sure I could carry on in a similar style :)

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-22, 03:12 PM
Just to clear up a little on my blade disk gun, I "created" it as a rifle like firearm to be carried by humans. I don't think it would be a good single fire ship-to- ship weapon because it'd slice holes through ships so thin that atmosphere would seep out very slowly. A 10-11um wide slit in a hull won't do much. As a rapid fire rifle though it would slice people to bits.
I'm shutting up about this now. :oops:

captain swoop
2004-Dec-22, 03:19 PM
Like a Flechette round you mean?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-22, 03:24 PM
It depends on the level of disparity between tech to who will win. A bow will win over a musket if wielded by a skilled archer against a skilled musketeer. A person with a AK-47 will win all times if they have kevlar armor and a lexan face shield against an archer. Two hundred people with AK-47s couldn't take out a http://www.army-technology.com/projects/challenger2/ The tank driver could just drive over them if wanted. An atomic bomb against a horse calvery....you know who's gonna win.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-22, 03:29 PM
Like a Flechette round you mean?

Flechette means "little arrow" or something like that. No, picture a composite material disk about the size of a CD but it is about as thick as a bacterium is long.

eburacum45
2004-Dec-22, 03:59 PM
If I could just suggest that troops will be used somewhat differently in the future; weapons of mass destruction will be widely available in an interplanetary context, as any orbiting mass can easily become a kinetic weapon, and any high energy drive system can become a powerful desrrtuctive weapon.
In fact I think human soldiers may be pretty much irrelevant except for police actions and small scale conflict.

If you have a large force of soldiers on the ground on a planet the enemy can simply land on them with a nuclear saltwater rocket or a fusion pulse spacecraft; underground bunkers would be vulnerable to large kinetic weapons.
Other warfare will be automated, pilotless aircraft, spacecraft, weapons platforms of various kinds, even very small scale robots and smart weapons like intelligent landmines... (you can perhaps say these things are outlawed by international or interplanetary agreement; but any spacehip or power laser can become a weapon in the wrong hands)

Human soldiers or police will really only be important in small scale conflict, the kind of conflict where you are not trying to kill vast numbers of the enemy but instead are trying to win 'hearts and minds'....

oh, and space elevators may well be too slow for offensive use; they troops and materiel will be in transit for hours, during which time they could be vulnerable to attack.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-22, 08:46 PM
Rich:

Good point about troop numbers. Terraforming wouldn't be too far advanced by then. So numbers really shouldn't be a problem, especially since they'll only be deployed once control of space around the planet has been achieved.

Stealth tactics seems to be the way to go here as well. Detect, fire, dodge, repeat. Still not seeing space fighters as useful, though. Dogfights simply would not happen, and manned fighters to attack an enemy ship are fairly inefficient. I'm thinking of an unmanned drone that separates itself from the main ship, moves a fair distance away, receives targeting information from the ship and fires its weapon(s). Strictly offensive. The advantage of course being that the enemy cannot find your ship by tracking the drone's projectile/beam. The enemy would saturate the area with RADAR or whatever to try to find your ship. That would take some time, allowing you to either watch the enemy die or to get off another volley (by the time the first one misses, you're probably about to be found and could go ahead and use the ship's main weaponry).
Edit: The first volley could also include low-detectability munitions from the ship itself. Like a mass driver firing ball bearings coated in stealth material.

Oh, by the way, what exactly do you mean by destroyer size? I think there's a difference between American and Canadian ship sizes. US destroyers are smaller than frigates, while Canadian destroyers are bigger than frigates. I seem to remember reading that somewhere, but I could be horribly wrong... either way, how big of a destroyer are we talking about here?

eburacum45:

You're pretty much right. An invasion would follow a few steps. First, enemy space forces would be destroyed. Next, planetary bombardment of key facilities would ensue. Finally, troops land to mop up the remaining enemy forces. Large-scale destruction would usually be avoided as the goal is to occupy the planet, not to wipe out its inhabitants. Maybe asteroid bombardment would come into play near the end of the conflict, when one of the sides get desperate. (Actually, I kind of like that)

I agree about space elevators as well. Troops would be landed quickly by shuttles and would only use the space elevator to get back into orbit after the planet is taken.

SkepticJ:

How stable would one of those disks be in an atmosphere? Would they cut through it or would they be thrown off course by wind?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-22, 09:08 PM
SkepticJ:

How stable would one of those disks be in an atmosphere? Would they cut through it or would they be thrown off course by wind?

Don't know, I can't make one to test it out. I'd guess they'd be pretty accurate. They have a super thin cross section so air drag isn't very much of a factor. I have them as firing at at least Mach 2 from a magnetic accelerator. (Mini rail gun) The recoil should be negligible because of the very low mass of the disks. Maybe bullets would be better generally, but a gun that can spray 20,000 blade disks with a 1-50nm thick blade edge without reloading would be a scary weapon to be on the receiving end of.
In your universe they'd need to put new power cells in or recharge. In my universe they have a tiny(smaller than a marble) fusion reactor in them.

You might want to have guided bullets in your story. They are something the military is already funding. If you're firing at a moving vehicle several miles away they can move enough that a normal bullet would miss. Also wind blows bullets off course. An HE sniper bullet that can steer into me so as not to miss would make me wet my pants if I were a troop in 2130.
Savant level mortars that are fired in the general direction of the target and have wings that pop open at the apex of arch high in the air then guide themselves down into the target by twisting their wings like birds.

MAV(micro air vehicle) grenades will be used long before 2130 so you should have those to. Basically they are a plane with a 15cm wingspan or less. Flapping wings would set your's apart from most current MAVs that are being worked on. Maybe the flying grenades would even have legs to crawl through pipes and air ducts; scary. They could explode, spray poison gas, sleep gas or aerosol nanites.

And as the resident gecko freak I can't go without suggesting wall climbing gecko spies and bombs. http://www.lclark.edu/~autumn/dept/

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-22, 09:31 PM
I'm a bit concerned about the disks' ability to penetrate armour, actually. Something that thin and light might just crumple when it hits a suit of powered armour. Velocity's great, but you need mass to punch through stuff.

The other weapons you mention, however, just sound... nifty! (I think the use of that word is justified in this case :wink:). Wings and fins wouldn't work all that well in airless environments, but I'm sure that other technologies could be substituted. Crawling grenades are especially great.

Perhaps not the geckos, though. :D

Rich
2004-Dec-23, 03:21 AM
Hmmm, I thought all destroyers were smaller ships, the Brits first came up with them in WWI. Bigger than a gunboat, smaller than a cruiser. Crewed originally by a couple dozen men todays destroyers rarely have more than 300 on board (according to my U.S. Navy Chief). From your descriptions that sounds like a larger ship in your universe... a standard crew of around 100 just "sounds" right to me after all of this.

I think you go with fighters for two reasons: cheapness and maneuverability. You can easily produce dozens of fighter for the cost in resources of a larger vessel. This would be very important in defensive engagements. The cost-benefit ratio is pretty high too. The capitol ship has to take out every attacking smaller vessel. It only takes one fighter/bomber to get "lucky" to cripple the larger vessel. At, say, 20-1 odds fighters are a good bet. Not only that, but you have to have a way to land attacking troops. In space this is not a big deal, just get your troop carrier close enough to an enemy vessel or asteroid and they can literally jump across and into the attack. But in gravity wells they will need a delivery mechanism... some kind of landing craft. These will be vulnerable to surface defenses, but counter-measures can be deployed against these. Never underestimate the benefit of actually putting eyes on target through a firing recticle (whether that's through a video link or while sucking O-2 through a space suit is a different matter.

Back to the original question though. It looks to me like your battles will be largely attacks on resource and production centers. Those in gravity wells like moons and planets will be more easily defended by surface and orbiting weapons... conversly being stuck in the gravity well severly limits manueverability. Ships in orbit will typically have a huge energy disadvantage (what earthbound pilots have typically referred to as "E" for the last 60 years or so). Conserving "e" and using it to gain advantage are important, so expending energy to build "e" when stuck in orbit is a decided disadvantage. Hmmmm, of course "e" will be largely linear for most of you battles, I would think, so maybe the disadvantage won'tbe as much as I think.

And again the whole stealth and detection thing. I really think that given the information we have that's going to play a huge role. Hey, you could go all the way and give your guys super stealth and really cool (temp) drives systems. Then fights might even devolve to visual-range combat. Then the guys with the best optics and pattern recognition software will win the day. Think about it: you can't hear me, you can't bounce radar off me, you can't see my IR... all you can detect are my EM emissions (which I can limit) and my physical presences by virtue of reflected light... and out in the dark even that is limited. Sweet, I kind of like it. Get old fashioned and medieval practically ramming missiles and kinetic weapons down each other's throats... =D>

The benefit to you in such a scenario is that you can study pre-radar naval warfare and get a pretty good feel for how you combat might play out.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-23, 06:16 AM
My main objection to space fighters was the way that they just begged to be blown up. With this stealth combat we're discussing (which I really, really like, by the way) that concern seems to have vanished...

I'm still not seeing dogfights or close range fighter attacks, but I can see the benefit of simply having fighters. The large ship can remain hidden while the fighters fire and manoeuvre. This would be especially effective against ships without fighters -- they'd have to fire themselves, completely revealing their positions.

Okay, I'm starting to warm to the idea now...

How about this:

When a ship enters an area where there may be an enemy ship, it shuts off its engine and goes into "stealth" mode. It manoeuvres to get out of any previously targeted position and launches its fighters. The fighters drift away for some time before lighting off their own engines. They go and try to actively detect the enemy, while the ship just sits there and observes passively. When (or if) the enemy is found, the fighters move in (to a moderately close distance) and fire. If there are enemy fighters, they try to take these out while still firing on the enemy ship (again, still from fairly long distances. Dogfights just cannot happen). With luck, the enemy ship is destroyed. If not, its position has already been revealed and it can actively pursue the first ship, employing its main weapons. At this point, the first ship can either open fire on the enemy ship and then deal with the fighters or can allow its own fighters to deal with the enemy ship before helping them to finish up the enemy fighters. It can even just allow its fighters to destroy the enemy or be destroyed themselves, never coming out of hiding.

Seem at all reasonable?

Anyway, if optical detection is going to play such a big role, then fighters will certainly help with that through parallax. They can move off quite far and can feed their data to the ship. The same technique could be used (even more effectively) when more than one ship is involved.

At what sort of range would ships be able to detect each other, do you think?

Sorry if none of this makes sense, I'm a bit tired.

Added:

And what about (non-manoeuvrable) orbital defense stations? They'd be fun to have, but would their predictable orbits render them useless? I'd like to have them, but they seem a bit vulnerable to me.

Added (again): Gimmie a bit (maybe a week or two) and you'll be able to see a few of my ship designs. I'm trying to learn 3D modelling and I want to bang out a few ships soon. If you're interested, I'm working with a free (free!) program called Blender, which you can get (for free!) here:

http://www.blender3d.org/

captain swoop
2004-Dec-23, 10:00 AM
Destroyer is a very flexible term. Destroyers were built to called y Torpedo Boat Destroyers, they were larger versions of Torpedo Boats with quick firing guns. In action they were supposed to engage the enemy Torpedo Boats then move forward and fire their own torpedoes. In practice they just rendered the Torpedo Boat obsolete and everyone built what became known simply as Destroyers.

Modern Destroyers and Frigates have a blurred distinction. In RN parlance a Frigate is an escort ship and a Destroyer is capable of independant offensive action, size isn't realy a consideration. In the 1950s and 60s the RN built a classes of Destroyers that were the size of the old WW2 'Light Cruiser' classes, the 1960s 'County' class were the first major warships to have a helicopter flight deck and hanger designed into them, They also had the first long range AA missile system in the form of the 'Sea Slug' a Navalised version of the 'Bloodhound' Rocket booster and Ramjet engine.
It also had Gas Turbines alongside the steam plant.

Bob B.
2004-Dec-23, 03:00 PM
Modern Destroyers and Frigates have a blurred distinction. In RN parlance a Frigate is an escort ship and a Destroyer is capable of independant offensive action, size isn't realy a consideration.
Aren't Frigates the descendant of WWII Destroyer Escorts? Destroyers Escorts where generally smaller and slower than Destroyers but very maneuverable with a tight turning radius. They were built specifically for convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare.

captain swoop
2004-Dec-23, 03:58 PM
Modern Destroyers and Frigates have a blurred distinction. In RN parlance a Frigate is an escort ship and a Destroyer is capable of independant offensive action, size isn't realy a consideration.
Aren't Frigates the ancestor of WWII Destroyer Escorts? Destroyers Escorts where generally smaller and slower than Destroyers but very maneuverable with a tight turning radius. They were built specifically for convoy escort and anti-submarine warfare.

Destroyer Escort was an American term. RN had Corvettes, first of the Flower class and Later the Castles and Black Swans. The idea was they were quick and cheap to build wiith a good endurance. Modern Frigates are as fast and well armed as Destroyers, they tend to be more optimised towards AA and AS warfare rather than any surface action. Most of the last generation of RN Frigates were upgraded with Exocet missiles to give them some kind of surface capability.

In fact the end of the Cold War caused problems for the RN, it's role in Nato was primarily AS warfare. They are scrapping some of the specialised AS Frigates and replacing them with Destroyers more suited to operations in places like the Gulf

Rich
2004-Dec-24, 03:04 AM
My main objection to space fighters was the way that they just begged to be blown up. With this stealth combat we're discussing (which I really, really like, by the way) that concern seems to have vanished...
I think they are dying to be blown up today... which is why we started researching stealth. Again, a stealthy space fighter would be a valuable asset. You'd still need visual ranges to engage one... given that they are smaller and (should be) harder to detect in small numbers that gives them another leg up on any capitol ships.

By-the-way, I'm not sure if you realize it but your description of how fighters might be used in your combat sounds remarkably similar to WWII naval combat in the Pacific. Except for the no-dog-fights part. I understand your reservations there, but I still think such activity would most likely occur. Relatively short ranges forced by detection capabilities and the higher maneuverability would mean something like a dog fight, perhaps simply at longer ranges. (And I'll say again I think that automated or remotely piloted fighter/bombers would have a huge tactical advantage since they've got no pilot to squish.)


Anyway, if optical detection is going to play such a big role, then fighters will certainly help with that through parallax. They can move off quite far and can feed their data to the ship. The same technique could be used (even more effectively) when more than one ship is involved.
Then you'll need some pretty secure uni-directional communications so as not to give away your own position through your radio chatter.


At what sort of range would ships be able to detect each other, do you think?

I don't know, maybe we should ask anyone around here who knows anything about astronomy :P what kind of nifty advances in optics they might think of in the next 100+ years. Liquid mirrors and stuff are neat, but I imagine the tactical applications are limited.


And what about (non-manoeuvrable) orbital defense stations? They'd be fun to have, but would their predictable orbits render them useless? I'd like to have them, but they seem a bit vulnerable to me.
Yeah, I think so too. Since they can't move very easily they are essentially sitting ducks. I'm thinking a number of smaller satellite based weapons might be the way to go. Any stations, given the parameters we're setting up, cable of standing up in a pitched battle would have to be truly massive (and extraordinarily expensive). Perhaps the sort of things that double as your ship construction yards and dry docks. This may not be as true if you have some kind of energy shield technology, but from everything we've discussed it doesn't sound like you are going in that direction.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-24, 04:40 AM
Again, a stealthy space fighter would be a valuable asset. You'd still need visual ranges to engage one... given that they are smaller and (should be) harder to detect in small numbers that gives them another leg up on any capitol ships.

But they'll be using their engines far more, making them visible. The detectable signs can be reduced, but never fully eliminated.


By-the-way, I'm not sure if you realize it but your description of how fighters might be used in your combat sounds remarkably similar to WWII naval combat in the Pacific.

I didn't realize it, but that's a good point. Maybe I'll look into WWII naval tactics.


Except for the no-dog-fights part. I understand your reservations there, but I still think such activity would most likely occur.

Yes, but it really wouldn't resemble a dogfight at all. Ranges would be longer both from a weapons and visual standpoint (no matter the stealth technology, fighters will still be detectable from a good distance), manoeuvring would be difficult out of atmosphere, and relative speeds would make getting in behind the enemy difficult at best.


I think that automated or remotely piloted fighter/bombers would have a huge tactical advantage since they've got no pilot to squish

Again, quite true. This would also allow tactics that sacrifice the fighters to be used without negative moral consequences.


Then you'll need some pretty secure uni-directional communications so as not to give away your own position through your radio chatter.

Yep. I'm thinking bursted laser communications. Keeps them short and out of the enemy's ears. Also allows for quantum encryption just in case the message is intercepted.


I don't know, maybe we should ask anyone around here who knows anything about astronomy what kind of nifty advances in optics they might think of in the next 100+ years. Liquid mirrors and stuff are neat, but I imagine the tactical applications are limited.

Adaptive optics at the very least. Unfortunately, this is as far as my knowledge of the subject goes. Crud. I'd better ask around...

The range would also depend on what stealth technology is used. Limiting emissions and absorbing any part of the EM spectrum used for detection, sure, but what else? I'd better read up on that as well.


This may not be as true if you have some kind of energy shield technology, but from everything we've discussed it doesn't sound like you are going in that direction.

No, I just don't see that sort of thing ever working. The closest I'll get is radiation shields in the form of embedded wires in the hulls of ships to magnetically deflect charged particles. I may even have to nix that if it turns out that this sort of thing is detectable.

eburacum45
2004-Dec-24, 06:32 AM
For what it is worth here is our page about sensors, to which I have contributed a small amount;
http://www.orionsarm.com/tech/space_combat_sensors.html

Rich
2004-Dec-24, 07:29 AM
But they'll be using their engines far more, making them visible. The detectable signs can be reduced, but never fully eliminated.

The only rebuttal I can offer there is that your combatants would surely have to invest in cool drive systems with little exhaust. Otherwise any move within the distance that the heat and exhaust chemicals can be detected will be tactical suicide. It does little good to go super stealthy if your engine exhaust can be seen for (hundreds of?) thousands of kilometers. Contemporary stealth aircraft cool and redirect their engine exhaust for exactly this reason to make it hard for IR missiles and detection systems to get a target.

Sorry, don't want to talk you into something you aren't interested in story-wise, just trying to play devil's advocate for you.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-24, 06:51 PM
Rich:

No, no, don't be sorry. This is why I came here in the first place. I want to actually think this stuff through.

I'm just going to have to find a plausible, low-temp engine design. Can't really cool a hot design without radiating heat, right? Maybe some sort of magnetically accelerated gas drive. 'Course, I'll need a gas that can be affected by magnetic fields...

eburacum45:

Thanks, I'll look that over.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-25, 08:33 PM
Perhaps not the geckos, though. :D

I didn't mean real biological geckos, but robots that use setae adhesive to climb walls. Grenade bots might be best having six legs and adhesive feet and one to two pairs of wings. I kind of picture them looking like a hybrid of a 20cm long wasp and a medicine capsule.

Read about Robofly. Imagine what a 130 years of improvements on these will make. http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2002/06/fearing/home.html
Spybots and a weapon that can inject poison or sedatives. I pity your troop's enemies.

porky26030
2004-Dec-26, 05:01 AM
In addition to having some way to cool off your fighter's exhaust, you might consider using the ancient technology of catapults to launch them and ignite their engines only when they're a good distance away. This has the advantage of not only a stealthy launch, but if the enemy isn't expecting it they'll fire at where they see the fighters and miss your capital ship entirely. I think that this method would require a fairly massive host ship, however, since it has to absorb the launch force of however many fighters it's carrying. One possible solution might be to have a carrier ship... making even more parallels to World War 2, which might be positive or negative. As for dogfighting, who needs it? You're using drone ships. With the weight you save eliminating a pilot, life support, etc., you could put 1 or 2 computer-guided gun turrets with a couple hundred rounds apiece onboard, should be plenty to not only eliminate close-in baddies, but to turn the bad guy's attention to the drones instead of your soft, vulnerable crew on the main ship ("baddies" and "bad guys" may, of course, be relative). As for weaponry, the disposability of the drone may again prove effective, assuming the technology works and is suitable... why not mount a one-shot GoldenEye-type device in the ship itself? Assuming a nuke-powered laser would work in space, you could have a whole swarm of self-defending decoy drones get within range and distract/damage the bad guys while your main ship sits back, watches the fireworks, then comes in to mop up. This is, of course, only my opinion, and I could be wrong. Any suggestions?

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-27, 08:49 PM
Hey, SkepticJ, your link isn't working for me. Still love the whole idea of mini drones/grenades/cameras/whatever, though.

Porky: I was thinking just a soft push to get the fighters out a good distance before firing the engines, but I'll look at a catapult as well. Thing is, the ship I'm thinking of would have the fighters pretty much strapped to the side. To include the catapult, I'd need a bigger ship. Maybe I will throw in a dedicated carrier, though.

And of course your description of how combat could work is nearly exactly what I'm thinking. :wink:

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-27, 08:51 PM
So what are your troops hand guns and rifle bullets going to be made of? Lead? Tungsten glass? Bismuth? Something else?

Your plastic explosives, how strong are they compared to today's C-4? Two to three times a stronger explosion per amount than today's, or will you go for a whole order of magnitude more?

I thought of another hard SF weapon. I call them gnats. They are dust sized flapping wing flying machines that are dispersed into clouds of tens of millions of them. They fly into the nose or mouth and then down into the lungs where they release their nanite payload. By by poor troops.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-27, 08:54 PM
Hey, SkepticJ, your link isn't working for me. Still love the whole idea of mini drones/grenades/cameras/whatever, though.

Sorry, link fixed. I had the html "l" off the end.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-27, 09:08 PM
Ah, bullets. They'll be quite devastating, I assure you.

One type of rifle bullet will be tungsten, 8 mm calibre. 1700 m/s muzzle velocity. Fired from a magnetically rifled, smooth bore barrel. Bullet fragments after penetrating armour. Another type will be almost exactly the same, but it won't fragment, it'll be full of HE.

Yikes. :)

Plastic explosives? Oh, lets say 25 times as powerful. I really don't see why not.

I have a bit of a problem with the nanite swarm: combat may take place outside of an atmosphere and troops will usually be in airtight suits of armour. I'd think a mortar would be more effective. Of course, I could just pump them into the air system of something...

I've had an idea for a taser-type pistol as well. It fires projectiles that look like staples, which will stick in a person's skin. Attached to the staple is a superconducting coil with a fairly large charge in it. On contact, this is discharged into the target, incapacitating them. The advantage over existing technology of course being a longer range and having more than one shot per weapon.

PS: Thanks for fixing the link, I'll look at it now.

Added: Okay, that fly is cool. It'd make a great assassination tool, especially with my super-plastic explosive. Just land some on the target's neck and boom!

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-27, 09:27 PM
I've had an idea for a taser-type pistol as well. It fires projectiles that look like staples, which will stick in a person's skin. Attached to the staple is a superconducting coil with a fairly large charge in it. On contact, this is discharged into the target, incapacitating them. The advantage over existing technology of course being a longer range and having more than one shot per weapon.

Neat idea but this would be much better--> http://www.hsvt.org/main.html
Dial up the amperage of the electricity and it could kill also. Better than bullets. Needs an atmosphere to work though.

So what propels your bullets from the gun? Advanced version of gun powder? Explosive gas sprayed behind the bullet and set off by a piezoelectric igniter? Remember things need a supply of oxygen to burn, that's what fire is; high temperature oxidation.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-27, 09:44 PM
Hey, that is much better. The atmosphere thing shouldn't be too much of a problem with a taser, it would mainly be used for policing. Will the laser version work through clothing, I wonder? Probably wouldn't make too much of a difference, I should think.

Bullets are fired by conventional (but higher-yield) explosives. Ammunition is case-less, and the charge contains its own oxidizer, as do most charges today.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-27, 09:51 PM
What about a version of sticky foam that would allow air to pass through it so that it wouldn't kill the target if shot on the face? This could be good for stopping a troop in powered armor; it would goop them up so they can't move. Sticky foam grenades would be cool. A pressure tank about the size of a softball with nozzels all over it to spray jets in all directions.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-28, 02:34 AM
I don't know about someone in powered armour, they'd just be able to break out of it. Someone not in powered armour, though, would be quite stuck. Not sure if this would be useful as a supplement to gas or not. I think I have some reading to do.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-28, 10:09 PM
I don't know about someone in powered armour, they'd just be able to break out of it. Someone not in powered armour, though, would be quite stuck. Not sure if this would be useful as a supplement to gas or not. I think I have some reading to do.

Maybe, but the stuff doesn't get solid; it just stays soft, goopy and extremely sticky. I don't know if it'd even be possible to make a version that allows air to pass through. You could call the stuff anti-mobility foam or mobility inhibitor foam.(MIF for short) :) In 130 years they probably could make a version strong enough to bind a troop in powered armor.
Maybe the year 2135 sticky foam would have lots of spider silk thread sized cords in it and the goopy part of the mix binds them to the target.

eburacum45
2004-Dec-28, 11:31 PM
Ah yes; Riot Foam.

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-29, 02:13 AM
I don't know about someone in powered armour, they'd just be able to break out of it. Someone not in powered armour, though, would be quite stuck. Not sure if this would be useful as a supplement to gas or not. I think I have some reading to do.

Maybe, but the stuff doesn't get solid; it just stays soft, goopy and extremely sticky. I don't know if it'd even be possible to make a version that allows air to pass through. You could call the stuff anti-mobility foam or mobility inhibitor foam.(MIF for short) :) In 130 years they probably could make a version strong enough to bind a troop in powered armor.
Maybe the year 2135 sticky foam would have lots of spider silk thread sized cords in it and the goopy part of the mix binds them to the target.

Might work. It'd have limited usability, though. Usually, you're out to blow up the enemy, not capture them.

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-29, 06:16 PM
Might work. It'd have limited usability, though. Usually, you're out to blow up the enemy, not capture them.


True.

What moons and planets do you plan on having action take place on, I need this to help me think of stuff for you. Hard to think up things when I don't know what the environment restricts.

What kind of food do people eat in 2135? More specifically what do troops eat when in the field? Future versions of the self cooking MREs like we have now or something much more advanced? The military is funding research into developing a system to feed troops through their skin, and time released food pills are in the works to.

Weird Dave
2004-Dec-29, 08:37 PM
I'm sceptical about fighters. Remember that you're using rockets, not jets, so you have to carry your reaction mass around with you. Even with a high-tech antimatter generator, your ship still has to carry around fuel to throw out the rocket nozzle. You might be able to improve on current technology a little by having efficient ion engines rather than chemical rockets, but any hard acceleration will still need a good deal of fuel. I think this would rule out fighters in favour of expendables - missiles or single use weapons like nuclear bomb-powered lasers. I think that the fuel saving (they don't have to come back!) would make it worth the cost of using them disposably, especially as manufacturing might be extremely cheap in the future.

Of course, your carrier still has to carry these things around, and if you're using disposables you will need a lot of them for a long campaign, which will be very heavy. Maybe for a long campaign it would be better to have recoverable fighters?

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-29, 09:09 PM
Your superconductor loop that stores electrical power, how do you keep it really cold? Or is it a room temp version? Silica aerogel--> http://eande.lbl.gov/ECS/aerogels/saphoto.htm might be how you could insulate the container that holds the loop and the liquid nitrogen or helium. As far as I know it's the current best insulator. 1cm of it is about as good as 1meter of the best fiberglass insulation.

Reading over this site would be good, remember nanotechnology will be quite good by 2135--> http://www.foresight.org/

SkepticJ
2004-Dec-31, 12:39 AM
Two more ideas:

Your exosuit troops could have an artificial nose on the suit that is as good or better than a blood hound's. The scent would be shown as visual info on the suit's visor or maybe directly to the driver's brain. Artificial noses are being worked on now. Nanotechnology should allow them to be much smaller and better than a dog's.

A Cloak Grenade that has a very advanced system of artificial chromatophores to make itself look just like the wall it's glued on to.
It'd be about 1-2cm thick, 4 or more cm wide and about 10cm long. It would be filled with your super plastic explosive and have a layer(s) of metal that would fragment, or perhaps just thousands of tungsten BBs that would spray out. This is a weapon for your surface troops.

Well I'm all out of ideas for now. :)

The Supreme Canuck
2004-Dec-31, 09:59 PM
Right, I have a bit of responding to do...

SkepticJ:

Colonized bodies would include Mercury, Venus, Earth, Earth's Moon, Mars, Phobos, Deimos, Callisto, Europa, Ganymede, Io, and Titan as well as a number of asteroids (for mining, etc). The largest population centres are Mercury (forced immigration, not very pleasant), Earth (large surface campaigns, I'm sure), Earth's Moon, Mars (limited terraforming, surface not viable), and Io (also not very pleasant).

Rations will be fairly advanced. Along the lines of the pill, but maybe concentrated rations (bars, sticks, etc.) that allow the soldier to go without food for a few days. Water will be provided by the suit. I'm just wondering about human waste disposal...

Superconductors work up to around 50C. Seems reasonable that it'll happen eventually. I think.

Problem with the artificial nose: it needs air. Wouldn't work in some situations. I'll still include it as part of a suit's standard sensors, though.

I'm also not sure about the grenade, the cloaking technology may be a bit advanced for what I want. Do you have a link so I can decide?

BTW, thanks for all the input.

Weird Dave:

Very true. This is one of the reasons why dogfighting is entirely out. The term "fighter" is kind of misleading. Perhaps "mobile weapons platform" is better. Very little manoeuvring will be involved. It will be pushed away from the ship by mechanical (or magnetic) means, will drift for some time, will activate its engine to accelerate toward the target, will shut off its engine and drift, will fire, and will return. Not too much fuel is required, the drone can be quite large, it can be left if it runs out of fuel (no pilot) or it can be recovered by manoeuvring the ship after combat. I'm also looking into fuel-efficient drives to incorporate.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-01, 11:09 PM
I'm also not sure about the grenade, the cloaking technology may be a bit advanced for what I want. Do you have a link so I can decide?

It's not being worked on as far as I know, I was just making up something that could work someday.

You were wanting your ships to have active camoflage for the visible spectrum were you not? This is how it'd work, the skin would be covered in trillions of tiny light emitters that form a video screen on the whole outside of the ship. They show what is on the other side. Be it stars, moons and planets. Biological chromatophores don't give off light, they only change color. The grenades would cast shadows. They may not be very useful anyway. Flying and crawling grenades that actively seek out targets using small very advanced sensors would probably be much more useful most of the time. These cloak grenades would just be for setting traps; and then why couldn't the flying/walking grenades do the same job? :-?


In addition to your explosive version of the robot flies for assassination a tiny one about the size of a gnat with a ricin tipped needle would be much more covert.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-02, 12:40 AM
Ah. I really wasn't thinking active camouflage for ships. Just black paint. An active camouflage system seems horribly expensive and complex. Besides, space is mostly black anyway.

Ricin's great, by the way. Somehow poison slipped my mind entirely. #-o

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-02, 12:55 AM
Black paint? You'd need a bit more than that... Radiation-absorbing materials and stuff. And in space, you could have a stealth battleship that would make the F117 look primitive... No need for streamlining except at relativistic speeds, remember? :D

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-02, 01:09 AM
I was talking about the visible spectrum only, but you are absolutely correct. :D

SSJPabs
2005-Jan-03, 12:25 AM
Hmm limited Martian terraforming? Like what? You mean like domed cities in the craters?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-03, 12:33 AM
Yeah, but they're on their way to full terraforming. Maybe a bit of a temp and pressure increase, maybe a few lichens...

That sort of thing.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-03, 07:24 PM
Black paint? You'd need a bit more than that... Radiation-absorbing materials and stuff. And in space, you could have a stealth battleship that would make the F117 look primitive... No need for streamlining except at relativistic speeds, remember? :D

Doesn't the curvy steath shape work better than faceted shapes at having a small radar cross section? Obviously it's better for flight through an atmosphere but in space to? What about a material that just absorbs all radio and microwave radiation? Then it wouldn't matter what shape the ship is.


A thing with your storing power in superconductor loops. If the loop gets over 50C then the electricity will cause friction which will heat up the loop even more and the higher temp. will cause more electricity to be lost to friction which will heat up the loop even more. You'd have a positive feedback effect on your hands. With electrical densities like you'd need to power a suit for several days the heat caused by the friction from all that electricity would melt the loop and damage the suit. You need something to keep the loop below 50C no matter what. Also if the loop is made of a ceramic and it breaks then a lot if not all the electrical energy would superheat the air in the container with the loop as it arced arcross the non superconducting air gap. It might go off like a bomb.

I thought of another weapon. I call it pyro jelly. It is a mix of 25-30% very sticky polymer goo that is highly flammable, kind of like napalm. 20% oxidizer and the main ingredient which makes up the last 50% of the mass of the mix is powdered magnesium. Enjoy.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-03, 09:23 PM
Why magnesium?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Jan-03, 10:06 PM
Why magnesium?

This (http://www.webelements.com/webelements/elements/text/Mg/key.html) is Why ...


Magnesium is the eighth most abundant element in the earth's crust although not found in it's elemental form. It is a Group 2 element (Group IIA in older labelling schemes). Group 2 elements are called alkaline earth metals.

Magnesium tarnishes slightly in air, and finely divided magnesium readily ignites upon heating in air and burns with a dazzling white flame. Normally magnesium is coated with a layer of oxide, MgO, that protects magnesium from air and water.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-03, 10:48 PM
Of course I'd make sure to protect the superconductor (both thermally and physically), but if anyone can think of a power source that I could use instead that would not need to be protected so thoroughly, I'm game.

The napalm also seems like a great idea. Would be nice on the ground, especially if it could burn through, say, an airtight habitat.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-04, 07:30 PM
Of course I'd make sure to protect the superconductor (both thermally and physically), but if anyone can think of a power source that I could use instead that would not need to be protected so thoroughly, I'm game.

The napalm also seems like a great idea. Would be nice on the ground, especially if it could burn through, say, an airtight habitat.

Only thing I can think of is a baseball sized or smaller nuclear fusion reactor. Your troops would have a small toroidal "star" on their backs. :)

If I'm remembering correctly magnesium burns at 5,400 F. What are your habs going to be made of?


What kinds of armor do your troops with exoskeletons wear? What would stop tungsten glass bullets going at Mach 4+?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-04, 08:31 PM
Fullerine reinforced titanium glass.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-04, 08:37 PM
Fullerine reinforced titanium glass.

What kinds, Bucky Balls, nanotubes, nanocones?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-04, 10:45 PM
Nanotubes are the only sort that can be woven into fibers right now IIRC.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-04, 11:00 PM
Yep, with either super-ceramic or tungsten inserts (no real weight limit, it's powered armour). Not sure I want fusion reactors to be advanced enough to fit into the things though. Looks like I'm stuck with the super-conductor coils.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-05, 06:42 PM
Yep, with either super-ceramic or tungsten inserts (no real weight limit, it's powered armour). Not sure I want fusion reactors to be advanced enough to fit into the things though. Looks like I'm stuck with the super-conductor coils.

Sure you have a weight limit. If your suit is too heavy it will sink into the dirt because all that weight is put on such a small area of soil. That's why bulldozers and tanks have tracks instead of wheels. If they walk on ice the ice will break and they'll fall into the water. Mechanical actuators have limits also, but a good thing you could use is electrical carbon nanotube muscles. They are 100 times stronger than human muscles and can contract at twice the speed.


Are you planning on having the suit's sensors feed into the driver's brain instead of view screens and speakers? If so then they will also have the technology of giving false pleasure inputs to the brain. Your troops could taste any kind of food or have any other pleasure including sexual whenever they want. What a morale booster for the troops.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-05, 06:48 PM
I meant to say that since the soldier does not need to support the suit, wieght is less of a consideration. I may have truncated my comment a bit too much. :)

I'll probably have the suit display things visually rather than dump information directly into the soldier's mind, but I'm going to have to thik about what level of technology I want there.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-05, 06:58 PM
I'll probably have the suit display things visually rather than dump information directly into the soldier's mind, but I'm going to have to thik about what level of technology I want there.

If you want to go for silent speakers your suit could use something like those telephones for the deaf. They have a nub that is up against the skull behind the ear and it vibrates the bones in the head. Quite neat. Why is it you don't want to have very advanced technology? It's 130 years in the future after all.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-05, 07:33 PM
Actually, the US army is implementing communications systems quite like that. They've embedded a microphone and speakers in a combat helmet that work through skull vibrations. And yes, it is neat. :D

Why don't I want technology that's too advanced? Because I'm not convinced that some of these things will be possible in a mere 130 years. Maybe I'm underestimating the rate of technological advance, but that's the way I see it.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-05, 07:47 PM
Why don't I want technology that's too advanced? Because I'm not convinced that some of these things will be possible in a mere 130 years. Maybe I'm underestimating the rate of technological advance, but that's the way I see it.

I think you are smart to not have warp drive, transporters etc. by then but medicine, electronics and other nanotechnology will probably be much beyond the kind of stuff you see in Star Trek. No magical rays will heal your broken bones but nano and micro machines will put it back together. Heck, by 2135 we might even figure out how to stop death unless the body is burned to ash or something like that. Imagine having your twenty-fifth thousandth birthday. I also like your take on the weapons. We might really have IR laser guns by then but lasers are kind of clichť. Tungsten glass bullets and super plastic explosives are not.


Not along the lines of combat but what if you had large orbital mirrors to give all parts of Mars perpetual day? It'd speed up plant growth and you could also have factories or GE plants that make super greenhouse gases to trap in the heat. The plants would be engineered to stop making the gases when they detect the atmosphere has reached the programmed level.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-05, 08:16 PM
I can definitely see advanced medical technologies, but I think that mind/machine interfaces and nanotech would remain fairly rudimentary. I mean, we're nowhere near understanding the human brain; we'd need to be able to do that before we can plug computers into it, I would think.

Anyway, about Mars terraforming. I think that adding nitrogen and oxygen to the atmosphere would be a better idea. Certainly they're worse at retaining heat than CO2, but a hot planet isn't the desired end result. A biosphere that can support human life is. The CO2 could eventually be scrubbed out of the atmosphere, but it seems that this would take longer to create a viable surface than the addition of other gasses. (I wish I could find that article...) You'd have a hot world that would be wonderful for plant life, but utterly inhospitable to animal life for a few centuries. There is some debate over which method would work best (you're advocating the two stage model and I'm advocating the one stage model. Both are valid, and neither has yet proven to be better).

The mirror, though, is an excellent idea. I was planning on having a mirror array that increases the intensity of light to Earth normal, but with the ability to change the amount of insolation as required. I'd hate to have to engineer (or build) the thing. Maybe sprinkle the northern ice cap with black powder, release a few lichens, drop a couple of small ice asteroids in the atmosphere, ship nitrogen and water in from some Jovian moons, and you've got yourself a terraforming program!

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-05, 08:33 PM
The mirror shouldn't be to hard to build. It would be kind of like mylar but the future, better, lighter version of it. The members that hold the "mylar" mirror taut are inflated by a gas. The first mirror to be built would be used to melt Mars's South Pole because it has a lot of dry ice(frozen CO2)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-05, 08:43 PM
Oh. Right. Mylar. What was I thinking? #-o

Anyway, it'd still be fairly complex. I'd like it to be a ring shape that surrounds the Sun's disk in the sky, making it appear bigger and brighter than it is, rather than have a flat mirror reflecting sunlight at an angle. It'd have to be pretty big, too, since it would be parked out at one of the Mars-Sun L points. Come to think of it, it'd have to deal with solar wind as well. Can't have it blowing down to the planet. I'm sure standard station keeping thrusters would be just fine.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-05, 09:03 PM
What kind of sensors do your suits have? Color coded IR high def. video cameras(the ones that have purple as cold and white as hot) Star light video cameras(the ones that magnify very faint visible light and have that green and black video look) Olfactory arrays and what else?

John Dlugosz
2005-Jan-05, 10:17 PM
Of course I'd make sure to protect the superconductor (both thermally and physically), but if anyone can think of a power source that I could use instead that would not need to be protected so thoroughly, I'm game.

I like the idea from Robert L. Forward. He writes of billions of ion traps fabed on wafers like RAM is today. Each one holds antimatter particles. Each trap dumps its load in turn to keep the warm side of a thermocouple warm. As much energy as a tanker-truck full of gasoline, but the size of a "AA" battery!

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-05, 11:31 PM
SkepticJ:

Sensors? Let's see...

Suit diagnostic sensors (internal temperature, pressure, gas mix, remaining consumables), external environmental sensors (temperature, pressure, gas mix), digitally enhanced optical cameras (allows the soldier to zoom in on distant objects), colour and B&W thermal camera (sometimes the B&W is less distracting), low-light cameras, olfactory sensors, sound amplification (great in regions with a thin atmosphere), and motion sensing software (the suit can draw the soldier's attention to something that moves). It would also be equipped with a GPS map and compass, a variable-frequency radio, laser communications (for when you don't want to risk a radio transmission), hearing protection, vision protection (The visor would black out. A black visor also allows for an image to be projected without the real world showing through), and a skull microphone/speaker system.

John Dlugosz:

That sounds interesting. How is the antimatter kept from annihilating prematurely? (I'm not exactly certain what an electron trap is)

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-07, 12:10 AM
I don't know how useful this would be to you but aqua regia is an amazing acid mix--> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqua_regia

Have you thought about flash/sonic grenades? Toss them into a room and they give off a blinding white light along with a 140+ dB scream.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-07, 01:40 AM
Excellent acid! I'm just not sure what I could use it for. Maybe breaching airlocks to gain entry to space habitats. Maybe I could spray it over enemy formations in pressurized suits/vehicles.

Flashbangs would also find a place in policing, similar to the role they play now. I may up the explosive power to that of modern arty sims, but maybe not. Those things are dangerous at close range.

Sever
2005-Jan-07, 02:05 AM
Perhaps this could be of some use?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fission-fragment_rocket

Fast cargo craft perhaps?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-07, 02:11 AM
Interesting. I like a VASIMR-based fusion engine better though. :D

Sever
2005-Jan-07, 02:57 AM
Interesting. I like a VASIMR-based fusion engine better though. :D

How fast are they?

Oh yeah TSC, have you thought about using bomb pumped gamma or x-ray lasers in mines? How about handheld weapons like a Gryo-Jet(Colt fixed up a drawing of mine so I'm using it as an examplehere (http://img154.exs.cx/img154/1931/eapdw0rx.png))

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-07, 03:35 AM
I was considering fusion reactor engines and VASIMR engines (both fusion and not), but it seems I'll have to look at the new option as well. I'm going to have to find some figures. Decisions, decisions...

I was thinking about something like mines for planetary defense. I just wonder what the effective range would be on the things. I'd assume that it'd be fairly long-range with all that power being dumped into it.

What is a gyro-jet anyway? Fires rockets instead of bullets? Sounds interesting.

Sever
2005-Jan-07, 03:49 AM
What is a gyro-jet anyway? Fires rockets instead of bullets? Sounds interesting.

It was a handheld rocket pistol produced in the 60's. The preformance wasn't anygood in the atmosphere but in space it would have been a pretty decent weapon. I believe it was recoilless. They also made a carbine model.

Link. (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-bloggers/1120035/posts)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-07, 04:18 AM
Huh. Interesting indeed. I think I'll stick to bullets, though, simply because the design I'm considering has a much higher projectile velocity. Besides, I do want to be able to use them in atmosphere.

captain swoop
2005-Jan-07, 01:17 PM
How about something like the Metal Storm (http://www.metalstorm.com/#url)

John Dlugosz
2005-Jan-07, 07:44 PM
That sounds interesting. How is the antimatter kept from annihilating prematurely? (I'm not exactly certain what an electron trap is)

My copy of Indistinguishable From Magic (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0671876864) is currently on loan. The device is used in the novel Camelot 30K (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312852150).

A "trap" basically holds a charged particle in an electric field. An antiproton is only dangerous if it touches a regular proton. In the crystal, they're all surrounded by think shells of electrons, which repel an antiproton just like another atom! Hmm, how about storing antiprotons disolved in solid metal that's clad with an insulator?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-07, 10:15 PM
How about something like the Metal Storm (http://www.metalstorm.com/#url)

Not sure. It'll get a lot of metal in the air very quickly, but only for a short burst. Reloading is supposedly difficult as well. Maybe as missile defense or as a type of one-use orbital defense weapon.





That sounds interesting. How is the antimatter kept from annihilating prematurely? (I'm not exactly certain what an electron trap is)


My copy of Indistinguishable From Magic is currently on loan. The device is used in the novel Camelot 30K.

A "trap" basically holds a charged particle in an electric field. An antiproton is only dangerous if it touches a regular proton. In the crystal, they're all surrounded by think shells of electrons, which repel an antiproton just like another atom! Hmm, how about storing antiprotons disolved in solid metal that's clad with an insulator?

Oh. That's how it works. Thanks. That really is an interesting concept, but I'd rather not get too far into antimatter technology. It would imply antimatter rockets would be on the way, and that could have negative implications for the story.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-09, 12:24 AM
I thought of a cool technical name for my six-legged "gecko" crab-like walking grenades, Polypedal Grenades or PGs for short. I suppose their power would be stored in loop of your 50C superconductor and packed with your super explosive. A metal casing that fragments at high speed is a plus for killing people. To give a better description of them picture a crab like robot but with only six legs instead of eight, no claws and a pair of multi sensor(IR, UV and starlight cameras) eyes up on stalks on the front and another pair on the back. The largest versions are a little over a meter in height and the smallest are about the size of a golf ball.

Some more recent info on carbon nanotube muscles, I really wish sites would note that they don't contract very fast instead of giving false impressions to me :roll: They are super strong though, I wonder still if there is a way to make them contract fast.--> http://www.physorg.com/news2577.html

Do your troops rifles have grenade launchers like current guns do? If so what is the caliber, 3cm? The recoil wouldn't be a problem for a troop in powered armor. Why not 5 or 7cm? Packed with your uber plastic explosive they'd be much more powerful than tank rounds wouldn't they?

A note on those smart bullets I told you about, they only will work in an atmosphere. They change direction by moving the cone front of the bullet relative to the cylinder shaped back section. The cone is on a ball joint with actuators connected to the cone or something. Maybe you could have bullets for vacuum environs with reaction jet emmiters, but I think they'd need to be really small and powerful to correct a bullet.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-09, 01:16 AM
Certain polymers contract under the influence of electricity... Not very fast or with much force though, but more advanced versions could work.

Alternatively, you could use good old hydraulics.

Power source? Hmm... How about a small VASIMR-like (inertial confinement) fusion reactor? With something like that, you could use the heat of fusion to force plasma through superconducting coils and get electricity more directly, without a working fluid... Electrons and nuclei would have to be separated though, so it couldn't be exactly like a VASIMR hooked up to a "plasma turbine" - the VASIMR-like part would have to have parts like you might see in a Hall effect thruster... Plus you'd need a good power source to "prime" the thing. :-? Blargh, gotta work on this.

For powering small spaceships you could go with a compact fission reactor I suppose, also for small to medium space stations... Either pebble-bed or a more standard design would do it. With something like that, you could heat a working fluid (water, hydrogen, methane, whatever) and use it for thrust and/or to spin a series of turbines.

Metal Storm-type weapons would probably be rather stupid space weapons. But as anti-troop weapons on the ground, they could be very good.

For a very, very powerful space-based weapon - probably best for large space stations or orbital defense platforms, or maybe dreadnoughts - a fusion-pumped gamma ray laser ala Orion's Arm could be devastating. Something like that might be used when you really, really need to get rid of something. A bit overkill perhaps, but it would definitely be effective.

(It would also be very unethical to use as a planetary bombardment weapon!)

You could probably fashion a neutral pion "laser" out of a fusion reactor, but I doubt the yield would be worth the effort.

For the battlefield: a "tank" with a large pivoting mass driver (would shoot high caliber armor-penetrating "metallic glass" rounds, and maybe a few other things), 2 Metal Storm type guns on the front and one pivotable one on the rear, a pebble-bed compact fission reactor, and an amourphous alloy chassis? Cheap both ways, since it wouldn't use nanotubes in the armor, but nanotube-reinforced armor would probably be just as useless as the ordinary stuff against rounds from a mass driver; the armor would be for protection against low-caliber weapons and small explosive devices.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-09, 01:55 AM
Another none lethal could be an electrovapor grenade. They'd be for use when you don't want to send a troop into a room with their "laser taser" on their gun. The trooper would toss this baseball sized grenade into a room where it sprays out a fine mist that conducts electricity very well. Then the charge from the grenade's superconducter loop is discharged thus dropping everyone in the room. A high ampere version could shock the whole room to death.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-09, 05:34 PM
Could work. Might be less expensive to use a capacitor though.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-09, 06:39 PM
SkepticJ:

1 metre tall grenades? Wow. No, really, wow. :o

I figure that I'll use advanced polymer muscles for the suits, some that'll actually contract quickly enough to be useful. Materials science is one area that I want to have some fairly advanced concepts turned into useable products. If I didn't, well, the story would be pretty boring, right?

Grenade launchers would be great to have as attachments for rifles. Say, 80 mm calibre. Make them fairly smart too. Could have different fuse settings (timed, contact, arial burst) and they would be easier to target than bullets (more room for micro-thrusters). It would be nice to have the same thing in bullets, but there just may not be enough room inside the things for reaction mass.

I also like the taser grenade. It sounds fairly devastating.

Gullible Jones:

How big would one of those fusion reactors ave to be? I don't want to have, say, a baseball-sized reactor. It seems a bit too advanced. Unless it, uh, isn't... I really have no idea about what the expected state of fusion technology will be in 2130.

Small fission reactors seem feasable for smaller craft, though depending on the state of fusion tech... I really need to find that out.

I'm also not too keen on having super weapons other than moden WMD and probably asteroid diversion. A huge laser seems to be... a bit over the top. Maybe a smaller version of the thing.

Now, how well do mass drivers work in atmosphere? I figured that the friction would cause a few problems.

And what about an advanced version of this (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/03/02/new.weapon.02/)?

captain swoop
2005-Jan-10, 04:28 PM
How about something like the Metal Storm (http://www.metalstorm.com/#url)

Not sure. It'll get a lot of metal in the air very quickly, but only for a short burst. Reloading is supposedly difficult as well. Maybe as missile defense or as a type of one-use orbital defense weapon.

.

I was thinking as a defence weapon, it could quickly put up a cloud to block an incoming missile or shield against sensor scans etc. It can be programmed to fire individual rounds, broadsides or sequences. Reloading is a matter of just ckipping on another pack.

There is a hand held version as well if you look at their links.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-10, 06:20 PM
And what about an advanced version of this (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/TECH/science/03/02/new.weapon.02/)?

Could work but the laser taser I told you about is more humane. Tasers don't hurt in the ussual sense. Being shocked by one fills like being hit on your knee hard(you know where you feel sick) but over your whole body and you can't move no matter how much you want to. This microwave gun boils the sweet on your skin or something causing great pain. For policing work you don't want to cause undue pain to those who you want to like you.


The meter tall grenades? :D Those might be better called PBs(polypedal bombs) I'll post about my polypedal "tank" later today.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-10, 09:53 PM
Polypedal Robotic Incursion Combat Killer(yes I forced this acronym): A six-legged robotic warrior that depending on the model is 2-4 meters in height. They are armed with at least a fully automatic 2cm caliber machine gun that fires tungsten glass bullets and a 4cm caliber fully automatic CCCG (course correction capable grenade) launcher. Some are outfitted with a mini-gun or two, a rack of polypedal grenades, twin or tri barreled CCCG launcher, flamethrowers, 9cm caliber CCCG launcher, 6cm caliber CCCR(course correction capable round) sniper rifle-->silenced or un-silenced, 6 or more laser taser ball turrets, tanks of MIF(mobility inhibitor foam), tanks of ATG(anti-traction gel), scramjet missiles, HE mini smart rocket pods, IR laser gun, IR/Visible Spectrum masking smoke grenade launchers, poison gas emitters, poison gas grenades, fragmentation grenades, sleep gas grenades and emitters, sonic grenades, strobe grenades, flares, whiteout grenades, MIF grenades, sound beam guns and a large plastic explosive bomb that is dropped off by the target.

You might not want to use this though because then what do you need exosuit troops for?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-10, 11:09 PM
Yikes. I think that's slightly too powerful for me. :o :o :o

Anyway, what I like about the microwave pain device is the fact that it can disperse a croud. A taser is limited to one person at a time. Besides, who says that the police are nice? :)

Captain swoop: I'll take a closer look at the metal storm device, but I'm a bit short on time right now.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-10, 11:25 PM
Yikes. I think that's slightly too powerful for me. :o :o :o

And I forgot to mention it's powered by a baseball sized fusion reactor and is able to suck up water and split it with electricity to get more hydrogen fuel for the reactor. 8)

Have you been reading about the stuff the US Military is looking into though along the lines of the 2030 soldier? You know, that black Power Ranger looking suit.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-11, 02:02 AM
Yeah. Looks kind of cheap. The prototype (well, pre-prototype) uses a motorcycle helmet. But, hey, the Canadian project doesn't even have that yet! :)

Sever
2005-Jan-11, 02:12 AM
If the VASMIR doesn't work out, remember the good 'ole fusion pulse drive(the one that used laser or particle beams to detonate pellets of hydrogen and whatver else a fusion reaction needs).

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-11, 02:30 AM
Would letting the contents of a big 'ole Tokamak spill out into space work, or would the reactor be too massive, do you think?

Anyone know where I can find figures for the thrust/acceleration achievable by different types of engines?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-11, 04:46 PM
Yeah. Looks kind of cheap. The prototype (well, pre-prototype) uses a motorcycle helmet. But, hey, the Canadian project doesn't even have that yet! :)

Are your suits going to have rigid braces on the outsides of the arms and legs like current exoskeleton designs or are your's going to reflect 120-130 years of improvement? Remember what cars were like 130 years ago; pityfull steam powered things. Actually that's from the 1880s, in the 70s I don't think they even existed yet. IIRC. You should really read about futuristic stuff and advanced nanotech, lest your book be as dated as Asimov's Foundation stories in a few decades. We can predict evolutionary advances but not revolutionary. Computers will be mind blowing in their speed, GE plants will grow faster for food etc.


Not dealing with combat but what will the people on the spacecraft eat? Will they grow their food, recycle their water, get their O2 from plants like Nasa and others are working on or will they store years of supplies away? Fresh food makes astronauts happier, the same would hold true in 2135, if people still eat like we do that is. It could be possible to have a hose of nutrients and glucose into the bloodstream instead of eating. I think I'd like to eat over that though. Hate needles in my skin.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-11, 05:47 PM
Yeah. Looks kind of cheap. The prototype (well, pre-prototype) uses a motorcycle helmet. But, hey, the Canadian project doesn't even have that yet! :)

But you don't need them. You have this elite fighting force http://www.funnfrolic.co.uk/catalog/images/pam/T1085.jpg

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-11, 06:02 PM
A small inertial confinement reactor of the sort I'm thinking of would probably be pretty big. Not sure of the exact size, but I'm guessing at least a meter long, and that's a pretty low minimum. No good for exosuits at any rate.

For the exoskeletal suits, superconducting coils could work... I've also been wondering about some sort of small fission reactor - maybe you could force plutonium to fission without having a critical mass of it, via a more powerful neutron source or bombardment with alpha particles or something like that?

(I've been thinking of all sorts of crazy stuff along those lines... A "liquid core" reactor where the plutonium is allowed to melt and a the primary working fluid is bubbled through it for example - that design is probably out because of containment difficulties.)

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-11, 06:47 PM
Do your rifles have bayonets? Modern guns still have them.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-11, 11:51 PM
SkepticJ:

I'm not really sure about suits yet. Kind of on the fence. I'll have to read some more material before I decide. I'm leaning toward a semi-rigid design.

On ships, fresh food (loaded while docked) would be the norm. Trips would be on the order of weeks rather than months, and the ship would experience about 1 G of acceleration the whole way there. Pre-packaged zero-g rations would also be available for emergencies, for while in orbit or for when the fresh food runs out.

Oh, as for the question of, ah, solid waste disposal in suits, I think that they could be "fed" pills that don't create that type of waste. Of course, I could be breaking some sort of fundamental principle of biology here, so I'd better find out.

Rifles definitely have bayonets. Would a triangular shaped bayonet be better for puncturing suits, or a knife-shaped one? I'm thinking triangular. Easier to get into seams and it would have a smaller point as well.

Oh, the RCMP is only paramilitary, BTW. You want something blown up, call these guys: http://www.armyimages.forces.gc.ca/cls_images/hires/2004-03-16/lf2003-0319.jpg

Notice the Carl Gustav in the background. :wink:

Gullible Jones:

I think a superconducting coil is the best bet. Shielding for a nuclear reactor of any type would simply be too heavy. But I have to admit that the liquid plutonium reactor is quite original.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 12:29 AM
Rifles definitely have bayonets. Would a triangular shaped bayonet be better for puncturing suits, or a knife-shaped one? I'm thinking triangular. Easier to get into seams and it would have a smaller point as well.


Well I haven't yet had to stab a person in a spacesuit so I don't know from first hand experience but I think it'd be really hard to do. Spacesuits are very durable and by 2130 I think they'd be even more uber strong than they already are. What are you thinking of the blade being made of? Titanium is strong but doesn't hold an edge well, ditto for spring steel. Metal glass blades are more brittle but can be sharpened very nicely. Perhaps your bayonet wouldn't be a blade at all but a IR laser? Maybe the blade could be tungsten and heated to 3,000F to melt through the fabric or hard suit, whatever the future holds. Bayonets might not be effective enough at all to warrent puting them on there. Best thing might be to just not run out of bullets, PGs, grenade rounds and whatever other weapons they carry. What could be useful though is a combat knife; you know for just cutting things like ropes, power cords and punching through sheet aluminum with the strength of the exosuit etc.

For getting to the roofs of building's to tall to leap up on to how do you plan on them getting there. Grappling hook gun? Suit's jumpjets? Setae adhesive pads and metal claws?

You still could have a GE fruit vine growing in some nutrient rich water absorbing polymer crystals for after the fruit spoils, I mean it only keeps so long. Of course do whatever you want to do. How many people are on your ships anyway? The Sea Shadow's crew is only 3-10--> http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/factfile/ships/ship-sea.html
Imagine how small the crew would be when computers do everything but decide the ship's destination.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-12, 12:40 AM
I don't know, getting even a steel bayonet between the suit and the helmet could really suck. The aim would be to puncture the suit, not to puncture the soldier. Just let it leak.

Jump jets would be nice, but there's again the problem of reaction mass. It's too bulky. Either a grapple (fired from a weapon or thrown) or simply going around something would work. Weld a few cleats onto the suits' boots and presto!

I think that the crew would be around twenty, thirty people. Round-the-clock shifts take a toll, as does the relative inability to dock somewhere for repairs in space.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 12:48 AM
Jump jets would be nice, but there's again the problem of reaction mass. It's too bulky. Either a grapple (fired from a weapon or thrown) or simply going around something would work.

And have a wheeled device with a strong motor to pinch the rope and pull them up or just use the suit's arms hand over hand? What's the rope made of? I something better than nylon will exist by then. Good, gecko troops left for me to use. :D

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 12:50 AM
What size of ship are we talking about anyway? 100 meters long and half as wide? How much are you going to have as far as robotics and AI goes?

Can cold sleep be done in your universe yet?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-12, 01:57 AM
Bayonets should be knife-shaped, made of nanotube-reinforced metallic glass with an osmium edge.

(Osmium alloys have been made which are somewhat harder than diamond.)

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-12, 02:09 AM
Bayonets should be knife-shaped, made of nanotube-reinforced metallic glass with an osmium edge.

(Osmium alloys have been made which are somewhat harder than diamond.)

Wasn't there also a material harder than diamond made by fusing nanotubes into something under pressure? I'm sorry it's been a while since I read about it. What does this do to the Mohs Hardness Scale?
I'm interested could you post some more about this osmium alloy? How brittle is it? Tensile strength?

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-12, 02:50 AM
SkepticJ:

Some sort of ascender winch would be good. Rope could be made out of artificial spider silk or carbon nanotubes (once you can make the stuff, you can make it cheaply).

Ships (well, a frigate) is about 200 metres long, about 20 wide (its kind of, uh, cylindrical-like. Kind of. Ugh. You just wait 'till I have the 3d model done!). Controls are all computerized. Tell the computer what to hit and press the button. It is also needed to pick out targets (all sensory data is fed into the computer). A small degree of AI is also included (enough to say, move the ship out of the way of something or to warn against an unsafe action).

Cold sleep isn't possible, but it also isn't really necessary. I think. If I can pull it off, I want ships to accelerate at 1 g until they are halfway to their destination, turn around, and then decelerate at 1 g. That would reduce travel time considerably. I'll need to read some papers on orbital transfers first, though.

Gullible Jones:

How fine of an edge could one of those get? That does sound delightfully complicated. I'm intrigued.

Sever
2005-Jan-12, 03:59 AM
Anyone know where I can find figures for the thrust/acceleration achievable by different types of engines?

I found this,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_propulsion
I hope it helps.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-12, 04:01 AM
That's wonderful, thanks!

Added: But its missing the figures for fusion engines. Crud. :lol:
The VASIMR's specific impulse is astounding, though.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-13, 10:27 PM
Ok, after this I'll shut up about the PGs. I had in mind for them to have a top speed of about 2-3 mps on flat level ground. They can run up shear walls and any other terrain at about 1-1.5mps and can leap perhaps 5 meters in one jump(in one g of gravity) using the potential energy stored in elastic bands made of resilin in their legs. An interesting thing you could explore if you want to could be the reaction of animal rights activists to the use of PGs as weapons. The really crazy ones gripe if a cow or chicken is killed to make food. What outrage would they have towards the use of grenades with a synthetic brain as smart as a dog or maybe even a spider monkey? It's a one way trip they go on.

For your suit's active camoflage they could use the future full color version of this stuff--> http://www.eink.com/

Well I'm out of ideas for you; for now at least. Happy writing.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-14, 09:05 PM
Actually, smart cloth already exists. Just change the applied voltage, and the colour changes. That would allow the camo to go from this (http://www.sealsactiongear.com/IMAGES/products/camouflage/Swatch-CADPAT-TR.jpg) to this (http://www.sealsactiongear.com/IMAGES/products/camouflage/Swatch-CADPAT-AR-Cordura.jpg) easily.

Thanks for all the input. We'll see what I come up with.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-14, 09:30 PM
About the osmium alloy stuff... On second thought, some sort of metallic glass might be even better. Not sure what to use though. You see, metallic glasses have very different properties than the crystaline metals... Copper, for example, is a pretty soft metal, but a "glassy" alloy made mainly of copper can be very, very hard.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-15, 09:06 PM
Right, thanks. I'll have a look-see...

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-17, 08:49 PM
As an improvement to the Robofly with the ricin needle I read about some scientists in Popular Science that took a look at the mouth parts of mosquitos and found out how their needle-like proboscis doesn't cause pain when poked in. It's because it has special ridges that don't trigger the nerves as much as a smooth shaft would.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-18, 12:13 AM
Ok, I know I said I would shut up and fully intended to do so but forgot to mention a few more features of the PGs. Ok, picture something about the size of a large ghost crab(those lightning fast beach runners) but the ends of its six legs end in a six fingered hand. The fingers have setae adhesive pads on them and the fingers end in a claw made of an alloy of titanium with tungsten(nice and strong plus hard) Yes I know crabs have eight legs and they evolved from lobsters FYI. Six legs in a sprawled fashion would probably be the best all around form. I've done my homework--> http://polypedal.berkeley.edu/ Their range I was thinking would be around 50km. A super conductor loop could hold enough power for that couldn't it? A countermeasure to PGs would be Teflon. Setae adhesive doesn't stick to this one thing. Enemies or the good guys against enemy PGs could spray teflon on rocks, cliffs and walls to halt them. This would only work if they couldn't jump over them though. I also did some more thinking on the resilin elastic bands in their legs; I think they could get much better than a five meter jump out of those. Resilin is the same stuff fleas store their energy for their jumps in. It's the most elastic substance known.

Anyway, combine this info with my other posts about them if you wish, its your book after all. Do what you want. Hope you like them and I really am stopping talking about them now unless you have more questions.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-18, 11:03 PM
Jump jets would be nice, but there's again the problem of reaction mass. It's too bulky. Either a grapple (fired from a weapon or thrown) or simply going around something would work. Weld a few cleats onto the suits' boots and presto!

I've been doing some more thinking on this(aren't I kind) and I'm seeing something that should be done different. You have explosives that hold 25 times the energy of C4 in your universe. A rocket is nothing but an explosion that is being controled. With your future chem they might be able to store enough for many thrusts; maybe even short hovers. Grapples would still have there place(maybe) but I have to think DARPA funded these guys for a very good reason--> http://www.lclark.edu/~autumn/dept/ The brains at DARPA were thinking of how advantageous SpiderMan-like climbing troops would be I'll wager. They will probably be in battle as soon as a good synthetic version is made for gloves and boots. [pester mode]I think it would be a mistake to ignore this in favor of plain old metal cleats, climbing crampons and hooks on the end of a rope.[/pester mode]

Have you thought about exosuits larger than normal human size? Of course you'd need small ones not much bigger than a human but what of 3, 4 or 5 meter tall versions? The bigger they are the more powerful their guns can be or rounds they can carry.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-19, 12:45 AM
Humanoid mechas wouldn't scail well. A 3-meter one might work; a 4-meter one would be clumsy and not that good; a 5-meter one would probably be tripping over its feet.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-19, 12:54 AM
I'm not too sure about rocket packs and wall climbing. It gives the whole thing too much of an anime feel for me. Too much fantasy, not enough sci-fi. Slightly larger suits would have their place, though. Maybe 3 metres at the tallest. Anything bigger is too slow and cumbersome, not to mention a huge target.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-19, 01:11 AM
I'm not too sure about rocket packs and wall climbing. It gives the whole thing too much of an anime feel for me. Too much fantasy, not enough sci-fi.

It wouldn't be fantasy, fantasy is magic and unicorns and stuff. It would just be SF a little different than what you seem to want. Do what you wish, your book. I'm just trying to help you keep it from dating to fast and be technologically consistant with what could and therefore would be done with the tech level you describe. I like your feel for the weapons though. A magnetically rifled smooth bore gun sounds so cool. What made you think this up anyway?

As an aside note: What countries and cities of note still exist on Earth in 2135? Any major new ones?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-19, 01:15 AM
Humanoid mechas wouldn't scail well. A 3-meter one might work

I should think it would. There was a dude back in the 20s that was 8 something ft. tall. Obviously he doesn't need 12 meter tall Gundams but why couldn't a Gundam sized robot suit work?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-19, 02:08 AM
A Gundam-sized powered suit would not work because it would be clunky and slow. And in battle, clunky and slow means dead...

(Not to mention a Gundam's absurd power requirements. Why make the thing so massive? Why make it a walking powered suit? If you want something for assault on planetary surfaces, just use a heavy fighter/bomber modified to work in atmosphere...)

captain swoop
2005-Jan-19, 11:24 AM
We had a whole thread last year on why 'Mechas' would be shot to pieces by a tank before they even got close, on e of the main ones being you don't want to be walking slowly around the battlefiled in a big tall walking suit when the enemy are low and fast, out of sight and shooting at you from several miles away.

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-19, 08:25 PM
Bingo.

But that thread failed to take air power into account completely... These days, tanks can be taken out pretty quickly via aerial strikes. A big, plodding mecha would stand no chance at all on a modern battlefield.

(Even ground troops could take the thing on... One or 2 RPGs and it would be all over.)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-21, 01:06 AM
A magnetically rifled smooth bore gun sounds so cool. What made you think this up anyway?


You know, I'm not really sure. Seems to me I was thinking of a magnetically fired round at first, but then I realized that good old explosives would work just fine. Kept the rifling, though.



As an aside note: What countries and cities of note still exist on Earth in 2135? Any major new ones?


Most countries have been assimilated into one of two large political entities, though some nations are still around (India, for instance). A few space colonies set up by the major powers have also declared independence. Most cities still exist, but a few just... well, they aren't there any more. San Francisco and Islamabad are gone, among others. A few more have cropped up, mainly in Africa and Asia, though a couple as well in the rest of the world.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-21, 01:08 AM
I think I may have come up with another weapon. This one would be for ship against ship attacks. Some hypothetical fluid that is superconducting and also a superfluid is inside a tori shaped magnetic bottle and is speeded up(using superconducting magnets) to a super high velocity going around and around in this doughnut shaped container. Then when it's to the firing speed and the target is in the sights a small section of magnetic field is turned off allowing this fluid to fling out of the toroidal container and down a barrel with a strong magnetic field inside to keep the hyper velocity liquid from hitting the inside surface of the barrel. It doesn't really matter if a round is solid or liquid at 0.5+ c. 8)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-21, 01:11 AM
How would it get up to speed?

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-21, 01:12 AM
How would it get up to speed?

Forgot to put that, now edited.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-21, 01:17 AM
Ah. Got it. Thing is, you'd need very strong magnets and a Type I superconductor due to the fact that superconductors are very resistant to external magnetic fields.

Maybe just don't make it a superconductor at all.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-21, 01:35 AM
Ah. Got it. Thing is, you'd need very strong magnets and a Type I superconductor due to the fact that superconductors are very resistant to external magnetic fields.

Maybe just don't make it a superconductor at all.

Good thinking. I wonder if high temp superfluids are possible. Superfluids have really amazing properties.(flow without friction and can climb out of beakers nested inside each other to pool on a surface outside all of them. :o. Superfluids have no entropy. ) The recoil off the thing would be a [insert applicable expletive here]; I don't know how your ships would deal with it.

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-21, 02:00 AM
I'm a few pages behind on my reading so if this is a repeat sorry.

SkepticJ's idea is very close to one that I have had for years to be used in a book that is still a figment of my imagination.

This came to me while watching a show, NOVA I think, on particle accelerators. My thought was what if you built a capital ship around one or more PA rings similar to a cyclotron (http://www2.slac.stanford.edu/vvc/accelerators/circular.html)? Since they're basically flat, you could stack multiple PA rings on top of each other.

I even came up with some nifty diagrams. Inside each PA ring stack is one, or multiple for backup, power plants, probably fusion reactors, to power that stack. Helical interconnection tubes would allow the particles to be transferred from the main accelerator ring to storage rings inside each stack. (Maybe one or two crossovers between stacks too.)

The stacks would be mounted in pairs side-by-side. I'm thinking 2-6 pairs of stacks per ship depending on class. They would then discharge into center firing tubes spinal mounted on the ship. Before exiting the ship, the tubes would widen to allow the particles to be targeted off the center axis of the ship, similar to a Cathode Ray Tube. (Of course first generation ships would only be able to fire along the long axis, have to have tech advances. ;) )

As the "bullets" would be accelerated to extremely high percentages of C, you'd only need a few atoms or less.

To keep things fair, the ships would be massive and hence slow. Their main weapon, the PA stacks, can only fire forward. Although rumors exsist of a test ship with chaser (rear facing) tubes and evn flimsier rumors of another ship being tested with angled tubes to allow limited side and top firing. The stack arraingment would allow a rapid discharge of the stored particles, but then you'd have to take time to "recharge" the stacks. And if a stack took a hit or lost power, you've basically lost the entire ship in the resulting explosion.

Thus each capital ship would require a task force composing of tenders, screens, advance and flank scouts, etc. There wouldn't be many, but then, you wouldn't need many either. If a situation crops up where the conventional forces aren't enough, send in a PA taskforce. Similar to the Texas Rangers motto: one battle, one PA ship.

Next time if anybody's interested, I'll describe the reactive armor I've designed for them. This ain't your grandfather's steel plating.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-21, 02:49 AM
Go for it. This sounds intriguing. I just wonder how you'll be able to stop your relativistic bullets with any sort of armour.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2005-Jan-21, 01:29 PM
Go for it. This sounds intriguing. I just wonder how you'll be able to stop your relativistic bullets with any sort of armour.

The Same Way, we Stop Missles, Now ...

Conservation of Momentum ...

Armour is Launched at .1c, with a Greater Mass.

Result: ALL Motion Ceases!

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-21, 01:54 PM
Actually so far I havenít come up with anything to stop it other than going ďoh crap!Ē and sidestepping. Which since these things are going close to light speed, youíre not going to have too much warning since the ďbulletĒ is chasing itís own image pretty closely. Someday I plan on figuring out just have wide the field of battle would be. Star Trekís right on top of each other is right out, Iím thinking knife-fighting range is still pretty far out at a few thousand miles and a long range engagement would be a few hundred thousand miles. But since light travels at 186,000 miles per second, if they were at that distance and the bullets travel at .9c say, (167,400 miles per second) itíll cover the distance in 1.111 seconds, minus the 1 second for them to detect the firing and youíve got little time to even think ďoh crapĒ much less figure out whoís the target, order an evasive action. and have it performed. Only one side has them and thereís a limited number too, very expensive to build and operate.

The armor is a reactive type and is intended for more convention weapons, missiles, lasers, projectiles, etc. Modern tanks already use some (http://www.defense-update.com/features/du-1-04/reactive-armor.htm). I carry it a bit further.

First, a quick weapons overview. Long range weapons are missiles, multiple varieties are in use. There are two main types. You have the typical explosive type that blows up and depends on the shockwave to do damage, and laser types that discharge a powerful one-shot laser when they get into range. (Iíve gleamed ideas from a lot of sources so some of these might seem familiar.) Thereís others, decoys and ECM types for example. Main weapons are shipboard lasers and projectile weapons for close in (although those are still fairly easy to avoid unless you just saturate the expected flight path).

The armor is made up of octagonal plates and square plates embedded with microcomputers. (Or hexagonal plates, I waffle at times.)

Anti-missile: The main defense of course is ECM, but you canít confuse every missile and then thereís ECCM to consider. So, should a missile get through, the main defenses, the armorís microcomputers order the firing of steel shot (think BBs or ball bearings) contained in some of the plates. This shot spreads out, hopefully, into the path of the missile which, due to the speeds involved, should become riddled and either prematurely explodes or the sensors get damaged and the missile loses lock. Should that not work, once the missile closes in further, other plates explode to produce a counter-shockwave to either deflect the missile at the last instant. As a complete last resort, the armor is not directly mounted on the ship. Itís actually two curved sections held away from the ship by pylons. (Picture Darth Vaderís fighter for a general idea of how the armor wraps around the ship while being extended from it. More than just one pylon per side though.) That way, if a missile does impact the armor and the resulting explosion penetrates it, the forces theoretically will expand harmlessly in the void between the armor and the ship. However, missiles along the lines of HEAT rounds are becoming more in use to overcome this. (Got to have an arms race going.)

Anti-laser: The armor is highly reflective to disperse laser hits. Should a laser manage to penetrate the outer layer, it ruptures a sac of fluid that disperses and further disperses the beam. Ideally, the beam would provide the energy required to keep the fluid liquid in after being exposed to space. Since the ships, both the shooter and the target, are moving, and the high energy levels required to power the laser, a laser would only stay on target for a second or less usually. Thus a real long lasting fluid isnít required.

Downside: For one, being so complex makes it rather expensive. Also, due to the highly reactive nature of the armor, as the battle progresses, itís going to get used up. Eventually enough is going to be exhausted that holes in the defenses will begin to appear. This lends toward short, fierce battles as the combatants try to win before their armor becomes useless. Additionally, this armor, while extending fairly high above and below the ship, is open at the ends and top and bottom. Thereís a reason I havenít made it a tube, but I havenít refined it yet, cost maybe. One idea is with all the sensors, ECM, special alloys, and other electronic noise, regular ship sensors canít penetrate it either in or out so the ship has to have sensor masts that extend over the top of it. Another being, I canít make them too invincible, there have to be believable weaknesses somewhere. The armor is also very energy thirsty and when on is like a giant sign saying ďhere I am!!!Ē so the active components (the fluid layer and void space between armor and ship would be passive defenses) tend to be turned off except in battle. This creates a situation where an ambush could potentially penetrate the armor before it can be energized, should the ambushers not be able to line up a shot that bypasses the armor.

Told you Iíve been thinking this over for a few years. Thereís more to it that I have jotted down somewhere that is in such a safe location I canít find it myself.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-21, 10:54 PM
I can definitely see advanced medical technologies, but I think that mind/machine interfaces and nanotech would remain fairly rudimentary. I mean, we're nowhere near understanding the human brain; we'd need to be able to do that before we can plug computers into it, I would think.


The mind/machine controle thing is already being worked on. Neural impulses being able to control things. Driving your car without having your hands on a wheel for example. Having false or true sensory inputs put into the brain is farther out; but still probably within your timeframe. The estimates of how long until we understand the brain that I've seen go from 60 years on the bottom to 100 years on the top. Holodecks as seen on Star Trek need all sorts of stuff that may or may not be possible. However why do it the hard way? False brain inputs would be indistinguishable from reality, save your memory of starting the game or whatever.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-21, 11:42 PM
Captain Kidd

That is very interesting. Perhaps the reason for the gaps in the armour could be because the armour would get in the way of efficient resupply. Or you could dock smaller craft to the ship withing the gap. Engines would create a need for the gap at the back, and the main airlock (depending on the size of the ship) could make the gap at the front needed.

SkepticJ

I am seriously considering an interface of that sort. Well, a low level interface of that sort, anyway. I'm just wondering about how feasible implanting soldiers would be. The sheer number of operations needed make the whole thing very costly and fairly dangerous (there are sure to be complications with at least a few out of every 1000).

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-22, 11:21 PM
Have you thought of long range RPGs?

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-23, 01:52 AM
Armor on pylons would be bulky... Could work though. But the "counter-shockwave" thing wouldn't work, because the battles would take place in what is for all practical purposes a vacuum. ;)

As for the anti-laser armor with the liquid underneath... Well first of all, that would be expensive and complicated. Second of all, these would probably be x-ray lasers or somesuch... Nahh, try plates with armor on top that would vaporize when heated to high temperatures, like thermoset plastics but at higher temperatures. (I think a composite of nanotubes and amorphous carbon would work here.) Underneath would be plates of "glassy" alloy with a high melting point and gas-cooled heatsinks (yes, you read that right) on the backs.

Oh yes... PA ships wouldn't have to be big. You ever heard of the tabletop laser-powered particle accelerator? A relatively small laser can accelerate atomic nuclei to a speed equivalent to several MeV in a tiny fraction of a second... With a really, really powerful maser (think "weapon with an auxillery fusion reactor behind it") you could probably get them up to the PeV range easily. Don't know why you'd bother though, when you have fusion-pumped x-ray and gamma ray lasers... And when you're already travelling at relativistic speeds.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-24, 04:15 AM
Found a little article on grappling hooks--> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grappling_hook
Wall climbing isn't anymore sci-fi than the technical details involved in making a grappling hook that can fire up to a building's roof. Actually it isn't science fictional even. Biology has been climbing vertical surfaces for hundreds of millions of years. Every possible mode of clinging or sticking to things has been evolved. Capillary pads of treefrogs(works via the stickyness of water) claws and glue glands on flies; spines and claws on roaches; claws on spiders; suction( horrible because the surface has to be smooth as glass and clean of dust that would break the seal) of some salamanders; mucus of snails; and setae of geckos, anoles and some insects.
The best combo as my hours of thinking and reading point to a combo of claws and setae would be all around perfect. Claws hook onto ridges and into soft stuff like wood while setae stick to anything(save polytetrafluoroethene) I'm not blowing smoke rings out my [expletive], or at least I don't think so.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-24, 09:34 PM
Here's a link on non and less than lethal weapons your police and troops can use--> http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,322588,00.html

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-25, 01:08 AM
RPGs would really be more along the lines of a Javelin or TOW missile. Packed with my super-explosives, of course.

I'm still uncomfortable with wall climbing. It just doesn't seem realistic enough for me.

Thanks for the link to the weapons page, BTW. The "malodourants" seem particularly... interesting. Boy, if I could get my hands on one... :)

porky26030
2005-Jan-25, 01:23 AM
As long as we're trying out armor ideas, I've been knocking around this idea for a good long while:
Use multi-purpose, thick armor (a la SkepticJ or Gullible Jones' ideas), but go along the lines of modern-day tanks, with the heaviest armor in the front. I took the idea one step further and used a single huge umbrella-style shield, braced with flying buttresslike pylons against the main body of the ship. The rest of the ship would, weightwise, be forced to carry minimal armor, but it's ideal for planetary assaults, where one can essentially point the heaviest shielding where you know the fire's going to come from. I realize there's any number of major physics/design flaws with that approach, but wouldn't it look sweet, at least? The more modest approach of simply thickening the armor in one direction might work just as well.
On an entirely unrelated and probably irrelevant tack, how are you planning on landing your troops? I've had several ideas over the years about that, but my personal favorite involves latching drop pods to the rotating sections of the ship, releasing them when centripetal force will push them towards the planet. This has the added advantage of stealth, leaving the bad guys completely clueless as to where your landing's coming from until it hits the atmosphere.

Sever
2005-Jan-25, 02:27 AM
Armor? How about big thick hunks of ice?
(would ice still shield you from radiation)?
Plus it can work as a heat dump.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-25, 02:35 AM
Anything will shield you from radiation -- if it's thick enough. Besides, water is pretty good at absorbing radiation. How much less dense is ice, anyway?

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-25, 12:12 PM
On an entirely unrelated and probably irrelevant tack, how are you planning on landing your troops? I've had several ideas over the years about that, but my personal favorite involves latching drop pods to the rotating sections of the ship, releasing them when centripetal force will push them towards the planet. This has the added advantage of stealth, leaving the bad guys completely clueless as to where your landing's coming from until it hits the atmosphere.Unless they have some pretty advanced ECM and and stelth design, radar will paint them from the moment they seperate. And even if they're of the ultra radar evading material, a good radar operator/program could probably pick up on the slight changes of motion the mothership will undergo as its mass decreases from the dropship seperations. Of course if your tech level is high enough to hide the entire ship, well...

I've always been partial to the Starship Troopers style of planetary landing, individual pods. That way if you lose one, you only lose one guy. Plus a significant portion of the pods are decoys and ECM units. Of course the down side is they have got to be expensive with burnable layers, multiple shoots, sensors all in one-shot devices.

The other way is WWII invasion of Normandy style with hundreds of dropships under heavy fire.

Anyway you cut it, unless the surface has been all but glassed (and thus removing the need for an assult), it's going to be nasty for the first few trying to make it down.


Armor? How about big thick hunks of ice?
(would ice still shield you from radiation)?
Plus it can work as a heat dump.Author C Clark used an ice shield for one of his ships in... crud can't remember the name. But it was intended for a colonization ship and used kinda like a plow to protect the ship from anything in front of them, dust, small rocks, ect, not warfare.

captain swoop
2005-Jan-25, 12:40 PM
I've always been partial to the Starship Troopers style of planetary landing, individual pods. That way if you lose one, you only lose one guy. .

Like Quake 2 ?

Madcat
2005-Jan-25, 02:18 PM
Yeah, the little pod in the beginning of Quake 2 is pretty close to a Starship Troopers drop pod. The big difference is that the drop pod blows up in the atmosphere and the soldier lands using jumpjets. Starship Troopers are a lot like an Assault Armor from Tribes, if you're looking for a videogame analogy.

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-25, 02:33 PM
Yeah, the little pod in the beginning of Quake 2 is pretty close to a Starship Troopers drop pod. The big difference is that the drop pod blows up in the atmosphere and the soldier lands using jumpjets. Starship Troopers are a lot like an Assault Armor from Tribes, if you're looking for a videogame analogy.I haven't played AA, but the pods in ST blows up at a high altitude, the pod's really only for re-entry. The soldier then freefalls with intermitten use of parachutes and then lands using jumpjets, which sounds very much like the Q2 way (which I haven't played either).

What's the system in AA?

Madcat
2005-Jan-25, 02:37 PM
As for re-entry, I haven't a clue. But the armor has a nice rocket on the back that lets you move much more effectively than trudging around. You spend most of your time airborne, lobbing high explosive around. Very much "on the bounce". :)

captain swoop
2005-Jan-25, 02:39 PM
Does anybody remember the game 'Outwars' that was 'Starship troopers' under another name. 1st Person and involving power arour with jetpacks fighting against hordes of insect like aliens. Was quite good as I remember if in need of a bit more work. Microsoft never released any patches for some of the faults.

Anyway the power armour in that was quite well thought out, there were three versions depending on what type of mission you were doing from scouting to all out assault. You got to pick team members to go on missions with you and you had a set of hot keys that could relay orders to them, also they gained in experience as you used them. there was a pool of troops to choose from some had specialist skills.

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-25, 10:14 PM
RPGs would really be more along the lines of a Javelin or TOW missile. Packed with my super-explosives, of course.

I'm still uncomfortable with wall climbing. It just doesn't seem realistic enough for me.

That's actually a better idea since the 80mm "savant" grenades would have a range of 4km at least. I suppose the missles could hold enough fuel for a 50km or more flight.

Eh, whatever.

Yet another weapon, it's a combo of stuff I've already linked and suggested. A "hive" warhead. They can be put on a missle and fired to a target of troops or small scattered low or no armor targets. The warhead breaks off from the missle and slows down using cutes or thrusters to a speed of only a few kph then pops open to deploy 50+ roboflies of either the poison or explosive models. Since they fly using flapping wings they only will work on Earth, and maybe Mars and Titan.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-26, 12:33 AM
Intersting, but for the effort, I think that bomblets would be better. The flies would only be of use when stealth is desired.

Captain Kidd
2005-Jan-26, 12:59 AM
Sounds like David Drake's firecracker rounds. A howitzer fires a shell (often with a secondary stage booster). Upon reaching the target area, the shell detonates releasing a cloud of small secondary explosives he termed firecrackers. I think the firecrackers are made of a glass or glass-like material so that when they detonate, extremely sharp shrapnel is formed, which glass is good at making unlike what Hollywood wants you to believe. The firecrackers have a hair trigger so that most explode on the slightest contact with a surface although a lot remain as mini-mines. A well dispered round can literally blanket an area "buzzsawing" anybody in the coverage area. Vehicle armor and sturdy walls are more than adequate protection but typical body armor, think modern riot gear, would have too many gaps.

It's almost an explosives form of napalm in how it can blanket an area, especially if multiple rounds are used; with the secondary affect of leaving dozens of minelets about for somebody to step on.

With its extremely indiscriminate killing zone, I think you could almost term it a WMD. The carnage a firecracker round versus a single exposive round in a crowded civilian area would be termendous. Then the area would require special decon units to remove the unexploded ordances.

Hmmm, OK, back to the more honerable warship-to-warship weapons design and defense for me!

Gullible Jones
2005-Jan-26, 02:51 AM
The Clarke story with the ship with an ice shield was The Songs of Distant Earth IIRC.

And I cannot believe I didn't think of using an ice shield! #-o

SkepticJ
2005-Jan-26, 11:21 PM
Well if you're going to be anachronistic as to how your troops scale stuff you can at least give them a well designed grappling hook--> http://www.ustacticalsupply.com/grabber.shtml

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Jan-27, 12:12 AM
Looks good to me.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-02, 02:41 AM
You might want to read this if you haven't already--> http://randi.org/vbulletin/showthread.php?s=0e9f0d9a8955c8a9fef3382c3d73ca8c& threadid=51982


I do have a question though. Not to pester, I don't want to get on your nerves but why is it that wall climbing troops aren't realistic to you? I can see your skepticism if no known mechanism allowed for this, it'd be speculative fiction then. To close to Spider-Man so that it's comic bookie by proxy?

Anyhoo I think I'm a dry well of stuff to suggest to you now, all out of ideas. Happy Writing. :)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Feb-03, 02:59 AM
Sorry I didn't reply sooner. The little orange notifications got cleared on me again.

The tech proposed to allow wall-climbing is simply too advanced for the story. I really wouldn't consider any story with it to be hard sci-fi.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Feb-03, 03:20 AM
Something occurred to me today about ground combat on airless planets/moons: aiming becomes less important.

If you fire too high on Earth, the bullet goes over the enemy's head and by the time it comes down low enough to hit something, air resistance has taken all the "oomph" out of it. But with no atmosphere, bullets shot slightly upward will hit the ground at the same velocity they left your gun with. So you can just shoot lots of bullets in the enemy's general direction without worrying too much about how high they go---unless your enemy has organized his forces into a very thin line. You can also shoot bullets in very high arcs and they will come back down as a "rain of death" after a predictable time period.

Of course, on smaller airless bodies, your shots might go into orbit. This could be either a problem or a useful tactic . . .

Madcat
2005-Feb-03, 04:57 AM
With enough velocity and enough targeting "smartness" you could pick stuff off in orbit. (See the aforementioned David Drake for examples!) I kind of like how Drake's fictional techs turn out- everything is so good at finding and hitting stuff that there's effectively no air or space support for ground troops, which ironicly means that combat is mostly up close and personal. Of course, the whole thing is a thinnly veiled allegory for Vietnam which can get old after a while. (I mean, come on, he keeps throwing people into evil sci-fi deathjungles which eat them alive. It doesn't matter if you're a tank-lord, a venusian navyman, a fisherman etc. etc. you end up in a Drake book and you're gonna be big-scary-carnivourous-plantfood. Fer crying out loud, enough with the evil death-jungles!)

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-03, 06:40 PM
The tech proposed to allow wall-climbing is simply too advanced for the story. I really wouldn't consider any story with it to be hard sci-fi.


Really? :-s It's already being worked on. If I were a betting person I'd bet on robots using this within 15-20 years. I can't make you change your mind though. I can only give you reason to. Advanced polymer muscles that let a trooper pick up and toss a luxury car massed object and Mach 50+ railguns seem more high tech to me:o You were planning on MEMs and NEMs being in use aren't you? The first primitive MEMs are in some products now IIRC. We'll maybe I'm not out of ideas after all. I shouldn't have said I was. :oops: It just seems to me a grappling hook is like a quill pen while adhesive pads and titanium claws are like a petaflop computer running M Word. Both work but one is much better. Remember don't limit tech to to much, lest you end up invisioning 2135 like 1870 people thought the year 2000 would be like(lots of steam trains, wide horse and buggy roads etc.)


Something to get though doors and stuff better and less toxic than aqua regia would just be a metal disk about as thick as a CD and about as big around as those old 45 records coated in diamond dust. Have it on an very powerful electric motor and some power cells or a superconductor loop inside this chainsaw sized machine. You just wear a slit through the metal, ceramic or composite. Whatever the door or wall is made of.

If you still want ropes a ballistic piton could be better than grappling hooks. A blank round propells them out the barrel at Mach 3 or more, they drive their way into rock, metal whatever and a motor in the gun spools the spider silk or carbon nanotube rope back up pulling the trooper up. I'm not writing the book but if I had that talent I'd give them both wall climbing and a piton gun. The gun would be for firing then swinging across a crevasse too wide to jump with the suits muscles. Your troops could have a 40 ft. or more vertical leap ability, maybe. If they can survive the acceleration that is.

Gullible Jones
2005-Feb-04, 01:34 AM
If you want to burn through metal, use an infrared laser. That sort of stuff, a nice CO2 laser is good for...

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-04, 02:10 AM
If you want to burn through metal, use an infrared laser. That sort of stuff, a nice CO2 laser is good for...

Yeah but he said he doesn't want small high powered lasers. If he had them in his universe another logical use for them would be laser guns which he doesn't want. A laser cutter would be good though. Have the beam only a few microns across and some very fine cuts could be made really fast.

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Feb-04, 07:14 PM
Heck, if I want to go through a door, I'll just blow it up. :wink:

Anyway, I like the piton gun. It seems to be the right level of tech for this sort of thing. I mean, just because something is under development doesn't mean that it will be implemented quickly. Look at the fuel cell. It was invented in 1838, but we don't see their widespread use. Some technology just doesn't make it because it costs too much, it's too complicated, it's too hard to maintain, etc.

What sort of weapons should I be looking at for surface-based planetary defences? Missiles or kinetic projectiles? I'm open to either. Lasers would be bad on planets with atmospheres, though.

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-04, 09:02 PM
What sort of weapons should I be looking at for surface-based planetary defences? Missiles or kinetic projectiles? I'm open to either. Lasers would be bad on planets with atmospheres, though.



I think missiles. Guns that can take stuff out in orbit might have to be huge inmobile things, kind of like that giant gun Sadam Husein was going to build about 15 years ago. Plus unless your orbital bullets have reaction thrusters like the grenades then they'd have to shoot where the ship will be, exactly. Hitting a ship in orbit is like trying to hit a Mach 25 bullet with another Mach 30+ bullet.


I see your point. It's not complicated though. A lab has already made a square cm of synthetic setae. It's not as good as natural yet because it's made of a hydrophilic material and becomes unusable because the hairs stick together after a few attach and detachments. Keratin which the natural ones are made of is hydrophobic. We might use this, silicon rubber or something else. Yes piton guns are still cool though. The name's Bond, James Bond. 8) :D

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Feb-05, 03:01 AM
Ah, true. Missiles it is, then. I think the RAND corporation looked at this sort of thing for missile defence. I'll have to go find the study.

Oh, and the piton guns can be used as weapons in a pinch, as well. 8-[

SkepticJ
2005-Feb-05, 06:41 AM
Oh, and the piton guns can be used as weapons in a pinch, as well. 8-[


What like shooting them then jerking on the gun pulling them off their feet and over a ledge? I suppose I can't gripe about cruelty though. I thought up the poison robot flies and that death bolo gun. Speaking of which are you going to use the latter?

Gullible Jones
2005-Feb-05, 09:53 PM
A laser cutter wouldn't have to be small. I'm thinking something maybe a meter long or so, with a superconducting coil or capacitor for power storage and several "stages"... Probably a pulsed laser, that would be better than a continuous beam.

joema
2005-Feb-06, 12:39 AM
If you want science fiction to represent the possible reality 100 years from now, you must start with what's currently on the drawing boards and extrapolate from that.

If you don't use large (not hand held) laser weapons you risk anachronism. Several different laser weapon systems are being developed right now. The Boeing ABL will be operationally deployed within about 2-3 years. The ground-based Tactical High Energy laser is not far behind it.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1281536.html
http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/abl/flash.html
http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/program/abl.htm

And those are used within the atmosphere -- a difficult environment for lasers. In space lasers are ideal -- no atmospheric distortion or attenuation.

Even larger laser or particle beam "battle stations" were seriously studied by both US Soviets. They weren't built mainly for funding reasons, not because it was unworkable technically.

http://www.fas.org/spp/starwars/program/sbl.htm

Re use at long range, current lasers can achieve 0.1 microradian (0.02 arc sec) beam divergence. In space a 10 megawatt class laser would probably be potent to at least 50,000 km.

If you assume nuclear fission or fusion for propulsion, there's certainly energy available for laser weapons.

Another current trend is "brilliant" kinetic kill weapons, not explosives. Since computer technology progresses faster than materials technology, it's likely any issues with reliably targeting these would be resolved, even at extremely high closing rates.

Yet another trend is toward unmanned vehicles. It's not sexy and may be difficult from a dramatic standpoint, but it's a fact. It's quite possible the Lockheed F-22 and F-35 will be the last manned combat aircraft ever developed. They may be succeeded exclusively by unmanned vehicles like the X-45:

http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/x-45/x45media.html

Regarding target detection, against the 3 degrees Kelvin backdrop of space, virtually anything not supercooled radiates like crazy in the infrared. Thus target detection is easier than first appears.

Regarding infantry, there's already serious exoskeleton development happening:

http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20010630/bob8.asp

I agree some of these developments may complicate dramatic development. It's easy to do a "Battlestar Galactica" and use thinly disguised fighter planes in space, and recycle the old "stay with your wingman" plotlines and conflicts.

It's much harder to do serious extrapolation yet make that approachable and appealing. Good to see you doing that.

Gullible Jones
2005-Feb-06, 01:07 AM
Remember: a fusion or fission generator is not practical for a handheld device!

(Some sort of superconducting capacitor might be though. But in general, projectile weapons would be more efficient there.)

Unmanned fighters would be good, actually. A large spacecraft could have them in some of its missile tubes... Each could be armed with a dozen small missiles, and maybe a fusion-pumped laser. Because they'd be moving at relativistic speeds, they'd have to be controlled by some sort of low-grade AI, almost certainly electronic or optical or some combination thereof due to the necessary reaction speeds.

(I'm thinking each one would be something like 15-20 meters long. Yes, that's big, but they'd have to be...)

The Supreme Canuck
2005-Feb-06, 08:55 PM
Wow, lots of stuff to respond to...

SkepticJ:

I probably won't use the bolo, but I may. Still up in the air.

Gullible Jones:

I can see a cutter that big. But I still think that a wad of plastic explosive would work just as well. I'm also not sure that fighters would go that fast. Relativistic speeds? Seems unlikely. I don't even think I'd like to throw a fusion drive into them. Keeps the size down, makes them harder to hit, produces less heat, less expensive... you get the idea.

joema:

So are we saying that lasers would be viable surface defence weapons? I'm starting to warm up to this laser idea, now that I see how far the technology has already come. Problem is, with a range out to 50 000 km, what use are other weapons? I don't want this to degenerate into two big ships firing lasers at each other until one is a slag heap. Kind of boring.

I'm already planning to use unmanned fighter craft, so that's no problem.

Have any ideas about how to cool the blasted ships down enough, though? So far my tactics depend on stealth. This could throw a wrench into the works.