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Bill S.
2005-Feb-04, 09:03 PM
Howdy all...

I'm working on a bit of SF right now and I want to get the "science" part of it right. The breakdown is this: it's alternate history, and there has been a limited nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union in 1997. The facilities at Cape Kennedy have been destroyed (this is important).

During the nuclear exchange, which gradually escalated until saner heads prevailed and stopped once a few major cities and more than a few minor ones on each "side" had been hit, ASAT and EMP took out the functioning communication and monitoring satellites for both sides.

One of the steps the re-formed US Gov't. feels it needs to take towards reconstruction is accurate weather planning so crop growing areas can be adjusted accordingly (weather pattern changes caused by the nuclear exchanges around the globe have made things "iffy" in terms of mean pattern prediction). To that end, they have assembled a team of scientists and technicians (a very small group and probably the last people in the western hemisphere capable of performing the requisite work) to assemble a trio of weather satellites. Part of mending relations with the USSR will be to share data with them...

At any rate, assembling the satellites isn't the biggest problem (although finding and/or manufacturing the precision equipment post-holocaust isn't exactly easy). The biggest hurdle is getting the satellites into space. Some 1/3rd or so of the US's ICBM arsenal is still intact, which gives the government plenty of missiles. All of the functioning bases and silos are located in the central plains.

Firstly, can a Minuteman-II get something in to orbit? Or is it wholly unsuitable?

If it can, does the launch location pose any problems? Given that a satellite would be orbiting the northern hemisphere, would a missile launched from Kansas (or even the Dakotas or Montana) be capable of putting a satellite in the right place so that it wouldn't have to undergo radical manuvering to be in the right place?

Would a weather balloon or series thereof do a better job?

tofu
2005-Feb-04, 09:23 PM
Given that a satellite would be orbiting the northern hemisphere

that's actually not possible. All orbits spend an equal amount of time in the northern and southern hemisphere.

Bill S.
2005-Feb-04, 09:24 PM
Given that a satellite would be orbiting the northern hemisphere

that's actually not possible. All orbits spend an equal amount of time in the northern and southern hemisphere.

Okay, so that's one potential bug cleaned up. Thanks for the correction. :)

tofu
2005-Feb-04, 09:38 PM
Have you seen this:

http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/archive/design/mmII.html

It might help you. Also, take a look at the orbiter spaceflight simulator:

http://www.orbitersim.com/

take some time learning to fly it and you'll have a much better feel for all things space related. I bet that will make your story really good.

Bill S.
2005-Feb-04, 10:05 PM
Have you seen this:

http://www.tsgc.utexas.edu/archive/design/mmII.html

It might help you. Also, take a look at the orbiter spaceflight simulator:

http://www.orbitersim.com/

take some time learning to fly it and you'll have a much better feel for all things space related. I bet that will make your story really good.

THank you. That MMII document is exactly what I'm looking for (I've already got the orbiter sim :) )

Ilya
2005-Feb-04, 10:10 PM
Howdy all...

I'm working on a bit of SF right now and I want to get the "science" part of it right. The breakdown is this: it's alternate history, and there has been a limited nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union in 1997.

I assume in your alternative history USSR did not collapse in 1991. How do you manage to have a LIMITED nuclear exchange?

Bill S.
2005-Feb-05, 12:08 AM
Howdy all...

I'm working on a bit of SF right now and I want to get the "science" part of it right. The breakdown is this: it's alternate history, and there has been a limited nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union in 1997.

I assume in your alternative history USSR did not collapse in 1991. How do you manage to have a LIMITED nuclear exchange?

Fear. Both sides taking potshots at each other, neither targeting DEW systems. Plus general exhaustion and the realization that they're this
> < close to going over the brink.

Oh, and no, the fUSSR didn't become the fUSSR in 1991 in this timeline.

W.F. Tomba
2005-Feb-05, 12:59 AM
Howdy all...

I'm working on a bit of SF right now and I want to get the "science" part of it right. The breakdown is this: it's alternate history, and there has been a limited nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union in 1997. The facilities at Cape Kennedy have been destroyed (this is important).
Of course it's alternate history so it's up to you, but just for the record, in the real timeline, the name of the cape (as distinguished from the Kennedy Space Center located there) was changed back to Canaveral in 1973.

See here. (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_440.html)

Bill S.
2005-Feb-05, 03:19 AM
Howdy all...

I'm working on a bit of SF right now and I want to get the "science" part of it right. The breakdown is this: it's alternate history, and there has been a limited nuclear exchange between the United States and Soviet Union in 1997. The facilities at Cape Kennedy have been destroyed (this is important).
Of course it's alternate history so it's up to you, but just for the record, in the real timeline, the name of the cape (as distinguished from the Kennedy Space Center located there) was changed back to Canaveral in 1973.

See here. (http://www.straightdope.com/classics/a2_440.html)

Sorry...I meant "KSC".

Madcat
2005-Feb-05, 04:22 AM
Why did they nuke the KSC? That wasn't very nice. [-(

Bill S.
2005-Feb-05, 06:16 AM
Why did they nuke the KSC? That wasn't very nice. [-(

To stop recon satellite lauches (they got Vandenberg, too).

Enzp
2005-Feb-05, 07:54 AM
It was supposed to be KFC, but they mis-heard the instructions.

Are the weather satellites in geosyncronous orbits like the ones we see pix from on the TV weather? or are these lower orbits jobs scanning as they zip around like GPS satellites?

Is the GPS still running in your story?

Takes more rocket to boost into geosynchronous orbit, that is 20,000 some miles rather than 200. A lower orbit might launch from most anywhere, but geosynchronous prefers launch as far south as we can get, since it orbits over the equator. Well, as close to the equator as possible, as far south as we can get if launching from the USA.

ToSeek
2005-Feb-05, 02:17 PM
Are the weather satellites in geosyncronous orbits like the ones we see pix from on the TV weather? or are these lower orbits jobs scanning as they zip around like GPS satellites?


Some of each. The GOES satellites (which show most of a hemisphere) are in geosynchronous orbit. I think it's their images that are mostly used in the TV weather shows. But there are other satellites, generally in polar orbit, that are in position to take close looks (if not constantly).

Enzp
2005-Feb-07, 05:32 AM
I meant the satellites in his story. Sorry I did not make my comment more clear. They need to send up a satellite for the plot. Are they trying to get one up in geosynchronous orbit or just a low orbit. That has an impact on how to do it and the plausibility of his characters' approach.

Bill S.
2005-Feb-07, 05:39 AM
I meant the satellites in his story. Sorry I did not make my comment more clear. They need to send up a satellite for the plot. Are they trying to get one up in geosynchronous orbit or just a low orbit. That has an impact on how to do it and the plausibility of his characters' approach.

Well let me do the wrong thing then, and answer a question with a question. ;)

A weather-survey satellite is first on the list of needs for the recovering nation; where should it be launched from, and what orbit (Geosynch. versus low) would best serve it?

Enzp
2005-Feb-08, 09:21 AM
How long is a piece of string. Have your characters argue it out.

The geosynchronous satellite is the type your dish TV uses and the weather pictures on the news. it sits up there watching constantly from the same spot. But it is over 20,000 miles up so it takes more to get it there. This would allow them to monitor the frontal systems and stuff just like the TV news weather. You can watch tornadic systems boil up in real time or follow a squall line in real time. It sees the whole hemishphere more or less, but always the same hemisphere. Handy You need more than one for the whole world.

The low orbit means the thing whips around the earth. it is closer, so you could get more detail and launch it easier, but you would have to wait as it orbited around taking strips of pictures. It can't see the whole picture. Your mosaic would be useful but not in real time unless you lucked out and got a picture at the right time. This is great for mapping the whole planet, but not all at once. This is one drawback to some of our spy satellites, the bad guys can calculate when they are overhead and hide until it passes, knowing it won;t be back for a while.

SO I guess it depends on just what you want the thing to look for and what the data needs to do. Do you need to see the whole thing in real time at less detail like the TV news or can you wait for several orbits to record the whole country to get older but more detailed pix. And part of the time it would be out of view on the other side of the world.