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Silas
2002-Sep-03, 03:34 AM
Confession: I am a science fiction writer...

Suppose you had a "near future" space fleet, perhaps just a tad more advanced than the spacecraft in "2010" (the movie.) Suppose that you want to make war upon one another.

(Depressing enough?)

Today's ICBMs are tipped with H-bombs. They would do serious (understatement) damage to a city. But what would happen if one were to detonate in space, near a hardened target?

My thinking is: if there were actual contact, or very close detonation, the fireball would chew into the target. But at even a slight distance, the blast would expand away and do little harm.

So...if one were designing warheads for combat in vacuum...could one re-design the standard H-bomb warhead for a slower-burning, larger-expanding fireball to attack enemy hulls?

In my fevered imagination, I'm thinking of dispersed plates of plutonium, such that the central explosion would cause them to fission, thus providing a larger likelihood that a fission fireball would contact the enemy's hull.

This would be rather the opposite of the oridinal Plutonium bomb ("Little Boy" at Hiroshima) where the effort was to concentrate the fissionable material in the smallest possible space. This works because the explosion occurred under earth's atmosphere, which propogated the shock-wave. In a vacuum, the weapons designer wouldn't have that "free ride."

Obviously, I'm presuming that the target is protected against EMP, and probably has some sort of ablative hull armor....

Anybody up for some sci-fi wargames?

Silas

(P.S.: this is currently getting kicked around on snopes.com, in the "science" area, under a discussion of "Tesla" weapons...)

kucharek
2002-Sep-03, 08:38 AM
On 2002-09-02 23:34, Silas wrote:

This would be rather the opposite of the oridinal Plutonium bomb ("Little Boy" at Hiroshima) where the effort was to concentrate the fissionable material in the smallest possible space.


Minor nitpick: "Little Boy" was the uranium gun-type bomb dropped on Hiroshima, "Fat Man" was the plutonium implosion-type bomb that destroyed Nagasaki.

Harald

Sum0
2002-Sep-03, 01:23 PM
Well, this is slightly OT from nukes, but my plan for space-combat weapons involves everyone's favourite weapon - a napalm-type gel!
It'd be a missile, designed to break open just before contact with an enemy ship and spray flammable gel over part of the vessel. Also in the missile would be a small explosive (with an oxidizer) which would explode over the napalm. The napalm would catch on fire. But what's the point? Surely the fire would rapidly run out of oxygen? Aha! The napalm would contain an oxidizer which releases oxygen as it burns. The fire, fuelled by the oxygen (I know fuelled isn't the right word, but whatever) would spread, creating more oxygen, and burning a mighty big hole in the ship!

OK, now I wait for the posts telling me why it wouldn't work... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Kaptain K
2002-Sep-03, 04:25 PM
Is a nuclear "shaped charge" possible? If so: Point it at the "target". Give it a good initial velocity. Detonate with a proximity trigger. Punch a hole clear through!

Wiley
2002-Sep-03, 05:11 PM
I'm wondering if we should not take a step back. What about a simple shrapnel weapon? My basic thought is instead of trying to circumvent the vacuum, use the vacuum to disable/destroy the enemy spaceship. The question becomes what shrapnel design would inflict the most damage. Of course, the shrapnel must be directed away from your own spaceship - an omni-directional blast would be bad.

Sheki
2002-Sep-03, 07:32 PM
Perhaps the warhead should just be something dense (DU?), and use the nuke(s) for the weapon's propulsion system?

Paul Best
2002-Sep-04, 12:45 AM
I've always imagined that space warfare would be a lot like submarine warfare, except for the fact that the best weapon would likely be the best detection system for rf, and of course a rail gun sniper rifle, or perhaps just a really powerful laser.

At the distances and relative speeds that spacecraft are typically moving, a weapon
that could move almost instantaneously across
a great distance, and deal a fatal blow would be essential.

Besides wouldn't just packing the warhead full of antimatter be the best course of action if you just wanted a really big boom?

I don't see why a nuclear shaped charge wouldn't work, then again I don't work on such things so what do I know. I believe that the Yamato Cannon in StarCraft was a nuclear shaped charge.

Geo3gh
2002-Sep-04, 12:48 AM
How about nuclear-bomb pumped x-ray lasers, a la Niven's Footfall?

overrated
2002-Sep-04, 12:48 AM
On the nuclear front, it seems to me like you could maybe create a directional warhead... a shaped charge kind of thing, as someone above suggested. The biggest problem with nukes in space, methinks, is that you wouldn't get the overpressure damage that an atmosphere provides. But if you detonated it close enough to a spacecraft, it wouldn't matter.

In terms of functional combat, though, it seems like projectile weapons would be simpler and plenty deadly. Spacecraft are fragile enough that a damaged system can greatly diminish their effectiveness. So just get enough pieces of dense material moving at high speed toward a target and something bad will happen to said target.

(the same principle, by the way, is used in aircraft cannons--the high rate of fire increases the chances of hitting, but just one slug usually will hit SOMETHING semi-critical)

Donnie B.
2002-Sep-04, 02:30 AM
Back from vacation... nice, peaceful topic! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Re Nukes in space: I don't think you'd have to get the detonation too close. What causes the damage in a nuclear explosion (in the atmosphere) is (1) direct radiation and (2) overpressure from the atmospheric shock wave.

(1) still works, and it's fearsome in a vacuum where there's nothing to absorb the highest-energy radiation and re-emit it at lower energies. You'd get one halacious burst of X-rays and they'd cook anything inside the enemy ship, if the range wasn't too great. Lots of high-energy neutrons, too -- also good for anti-personnel.

(2) is less applicable in space, I suppose. There's only the mass of the bomb/casing/delivery system to make a shock wave, so it'd be pretty wimpy at anything but point-blank range. OTOH, it wouldn't take much overpressure to crunch a spaceship, which would generally be built for low mass (for propulsion efficiency).

Nuclear-pumped X-ray lasers would be nice, except so far they haven't worked (at least, so the critics of Reagan's SDI claim).

A shaped charge is a concept I can't quite picture vis a vis nuclear weapons. A fission device must be exceptionally symmetrical to function at all. Your only wiggle room is the casing; in fact, thermonuclear devices' casings are designed to focus the radiation of a fission bomb onto a thermonuclear fuel (through an intermediary medium) to initiate fusion burning. But this effect lasts nanoseconds and has no large-scale impact on the shape of the fireball.

How about this idea: use the nuke as a sort of super-cordite to produce a mass of shrapnel. You locate the nuke at the "breech" of a heavy gun; the "barrel" of the gun is full of projectiles. (In practice the "gun" and "projectiles" might all be part of a single mechanical assembly, and might not look like a gun at all.)

To use the weapon, get it "kinda close" to the target, point the weak end at the enemy, and set off the nuke. You get an expanding hemisphere of extremely fast-moving, high-mass junk - sort of an ultra-shotgun. The trick would be to get the shrapnel to outrun the expanding fireball. Good possibilities for geek-speak here... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif

However, I think you'd do much better overall with a mondo-scale chemically-pumped laser. Just point and shoot, no muss, no fuss, and there's no faster bullet than a beam of photons. But there's only so much fuel, so you can only shoot so many times... makes for a good plot device, perhaps.

g99
2002-Sep-04, 02:32 AM
How about going back to the times of ye old greece and egypt. Why not harden the nose and armor of a ship and ram the hell out of another ship. That way you don't have to worry about recoil, aiming, just point and put the petal to the metal. Or you could go the way of the Hunley and atach a warhead onto the tip of a removeable spear and blow it at a distance after it is atached to a target. Think space mine. Anyone?

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: g99 on 2002-09-03 22:35 ]</font>

Paul Best
2002-Sep-04, 03:30 AM
I think the way a nuclear shaped charge would work would be like the early h bombs, and how shaped charges work today. have a bunch of independent fission bombs around a single h bomb arranged in a cone shape, all the bombs are detonated at precisely the instant so that the inward force of all the fission bombs causes the whole force of the fusion bomb to be sent largely in a single direction.

Why can't the laser just be powered by the reactor on the ship?

What about taking a gauss rifle or rail gun, and spitting out ball bearings at a extremely high velocity? Numerous small hull breaches? Buck shot in space?

One thing that hasn't even been mentioned here is propulsion. What is going on now with nuclear thermal rockets, ion engines, plasma rockets, etc?

Sum0
2002-Sep-04, 04:02 PM
The way I imagine space combat is to have capital ships slugging away with particle beams and guided missiles - ie, either very fast or targeted so they don't need speed. But up close would be various fighters and drones swarming over the capital ships and attacking with short range projectile weapons and guns. The capital ships would keep each other busy while the tiny fighters do the real damage.

Although really, space combat would be over so quickly there'd be little point. Even a minor system failure in space can cripple a ship, and Apollo 13 happened by accident, to a small ship, in the best possible position to suffer an accident. And even they nearly didn't make it. So in the absense of perfect armour or a deflector shield, just hide behind the moon and shoot a couple dozen cheap missiles at them. Works for me. **begin evil laugh**

David Hall
2002-Sep-04, 04:27 PM
I'm still wondering what a nuclear explosion would be like in space. I assume it would simply manifest as an expanding spherical cloud, and would soon be too dispersed to do any real damage. But there would be a front of radioactivity that I think would affect a larger area. And of course Silas already mentioned the EMP effects.

I think in this case, from what I said above, a neutron bomb would be more effective than a standard nuke. Target the crew instead of the ship itself. Or would the EMP hardening also include protection from radiation also? Since interplanetary ships would have to be able to handle solar flares, I assume they would already have some protection at least. But if the solar flare protection is a bunker-type arrangement and not a general protection, then a radiation pulse may be useful.

I think most likely nuclear weapons would probably be relegated to proximity weapons and other weapon strategies would be more effective overall. My guess is laser-type and inertia weapons would be most useful.

Silas
2002-Sep-04, 05:07 PM
What about taking a gauss rifle or rail gun, and spitting out ball bearings at a extremely high velocity? Numerous small hull breaches? Buck shot in space?


This has been used as an anti-missile defense. (Marc W. Miller, designer of the "Traveller" role-playing-game, referred to "sand," having two benefits: one, it was refractive, and tended to mess up the collimation of lasers, and, two, it was abrasive, and tended to mess up incoming missiles.)

Donnie B.: apologies for the morbidity of the subject. I hope it's better to talk about it than actually to do it!

Everybody: thanks! Some mighty keen ideas here. (Sharpening up the old swiping pencil...)

Silas

Geo3gh
2002-Sep-04, 05:57 PM
On 2002-09-02 23:34, Silas wrote:
Confession: I am a science fiction writer...


Anything published? I am always keen to find new (to me) science fiction to read.

Donnie B.
2002-Sep-04, 06:02 PM
Don't count on EMP. If memory serves, the electromagnetic pulse effect is created by interactions between the fireball and Earth's atmosphere at high altitude. Probably wouldn't work in space.

(Fixed a typo)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Donnie B. on 2002-09-04 14:02 ]</font>

Sheki
2002-Sep-04, 06:54 PM
Just a thought about missiles. Unless one has a speedy way to get a missile travelling close to light-speed, they are probably going to be sitting ducks for anti-missile weaponry. Unless you have very fast missiles (a.k.a "photon-torpedos"),chances are, the only way you will score a hit is with beam weapons. That is, of course, unless you are very stealthy in your attack....stealth missiles perhaps?



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Sheki on 2002-09-04 14:55 ]</font>

StyLe
2002-Sep-04, 11:36 PM
I've always thought about alien technology and space combat ever since I've played starcraft, but can someone explain to me the difference between hydrogen bombs, nuclear bombs, atomic bombs, neutron bombs, EMP bombs and whatnot? How does EMP work? What's a neutron bomb? Atomic/nuclear? Implosions? Erf? Types of bomb trigger thingies? Thanks.

Paul Best
2002-Sep-05, 03:50 AM
Ok, a atomic bomb aka fission device/bomb, uses a ball of plutonium, surrounded by tnt. The tnt is detonated in a precise manner to cause the inward force of the blast to cause fission to occur.

a hydrogen bomb is I think the same thing, except instead of a ball of plutonium and tnt, its hydrogen surrounded by atomic bombs.

A neutron bomb is the ultimate dirty bomb. No boom, all radiation. Anything organic
would bite the dust.

EMP is a electromagnetic pulse. Basically its transmitting a huge ammount of energy across the whole range of the electro-magnetic spectrum, anything electronic would act as an antenna, which would cause huge ammounts of voltage. You could say good bye to all solid state components. Interestingly tubes are not as vulnerable.

David Hall
2002-Sep-05, 06:06 AM
Paul has explained it all pretty well, but there are a couple of points to clarify.

1. I don't think an atomic bomb requires plutonium per-se, just any fissionable material. I believe the first bombs were enriched uranium. But plutonium is, I think, most efficient.

2. Hydrogen bombs are fusion explosions. Fusion releases a much larger amount of energy than fission, but requires much higher temperatures to achieve. Therefore, a fission explosion is used to initiate a more powerful hydrogen fusion explosion.

3. Neutron bombs were one of the nastiest ideas to come out of the cold war. They create only a small boom, but send out a burst of neutron radiation designed to kill everything in the area. That way you could clear a city, but leave most of the buildings intact.

4. EMP attacks electronics, frying most anything it comes across, as Paul said. They don't have to be nuclear weapons, per-se. There are several ways to generate electromagnetic pulses.

For a more detailed rundown on nuclear weapons, look here:
http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq1.html

And here's a detailed look at EMP weapons.
http://www.infowar.com/mil_c4i/mil_c4i8.html-ssi
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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2002-09-05 02:11 ]</font>

Kaptain K
2002-Sep-05, 11:28 AM
A small nit-pick.


A neutron bomb is the ultimate dirty bomb. No boom, all radiation.
By convention, a "dirty" bomb is one that produces lots of fallout. By this definition, the neutron bomb is a "clean" weapon. Small boom, little fallout, just lots of lethal radiation. Good if you want to use the infrastructure after the occupants are eliminated.
Another "clean" bomb is the "enhanced blast" type. All boom, little radiation, minimal fallout. Good if you want to use the area immediately after removing the current structures without the hassles of lingering radiation.
The ultimate "dirty" bomb is the enhanced fallout weapon. A small standard thermo-nuke (H-bomb) is surrounded by a blanket of depleted uranium that absorbs neutrons, resulting in large amounts of extremely nasty, short half-life by-products.

OK It was a large nit-pick. Sorry.

David Hall
2002-Sep-05, 12:10 PM
Ok, so now I want to know just what "fallout" is. I always assumed it was the radiation and radioactive leftovers of a nuclear blast. I take it now that it really means only the radioactive dust and whatnot and is separate from the radiation of the actual blast itself. Is this correct?

Timm
2002-Sep-05, 02:15 PM
On 2002-09-05 08:10, David Hall wrote:
Ok, so now I want to know just what "fallout" is. I always assumed it was the radiation and radioactive leftovers of a nuclear blast. I take it now that it really means only the radioactive dust and whatnot and is separate from the radiation of the actual blast itself. Is this correct?


I think so. It's the dust cloud from the blast that will settle down after a while or come down by precipitation. Similar to the cloud that wandered around in Europe after the Chernobyl accident.

About the space warfare:

I agree to sheki, missiles won't be very usefull in space, expecially in a Sci-Fi setting. Radar and Laser systems should be good enough to provide a deadly point-defence.
On the other side, just launch literally millions of decoy missiles (with about 10-20 real warheads) and no defence could possibly destroy all of them.

Another thought about the nuclear blasts... If you accelerate the missile fast enough, wouldn't the blast itself (the hot expanding gasses etc.) keep traveling at that speed? So you could fly such a bomb really fast to the enemy ship, detonate it some km before impact and hit the ship with the whole expanding gas cloud, maybe along with some shrapnel?

Sum0
2002-Sep-05, 04:06 PM
3. Neutron bombs were one of the nastiest ideas to come out of the cold war. They create only a small boom, but send out a burst of neutron radiation designed to kill everything in the area. That way you could clear a city, but leave most of the buildings intact.

On this note, why not a hand-held neutron gun? All you'd need is a particle accelerator and a packet of salted neutrons.

Wiley
2002-Sep-05, 07:07 PM
I wonder if anyone from the Pentagon is reading this thread.

g99
2002-Sep-05, 08:12 PM
No we...umm...scratch that..."They" are not watching. Please continue your discussion, but please speak louder and face my tie please, i am....umm...hard of hearing.

Paul Best
2002-Sep-05, 08:34 PM
Ok, I was under the impression that Neutron bombs did have fallout. Somehow having nukes that minimize fallout isn't a very settling thought.

I would think a handheld neutron weapon would be needlessly complicated, but would it make a good anti-ship weapon? What about using a electron beam to act like a emp blast? What about using a stream of protons to destabalize the structure of an enemy ship?

And where would all the subatomic particles come from?

Perhaps massively multiwarheaded missiles are a possibility? a guided clusterbomb for use
in space?

n810
2002-Sep-06, 12:22 AM
It seems to me that nuclear weapons are probably overkill, especially in a near future space battle. Unless you have to get through Star Trek type shields. I'm thinking for close range combat, kinetic energy weapons would be the most effective for the money. Energy weapons would be great and all, but the heat build up from the actual weapon could be just as damaging to the attacker as the target. It seems to me that the best design for a close in space fighter would be similar to that of an A-10 Warthog. Take a really big gun, put a hardened cockpit and propulsion on it. Point and shoot.

But this would only work for close in engagements, too much distance would make it too easy for the target to adjust course and simply get out of the way. Missles would have to be huge to carry enough fuel to make constant corrections to the point of impact on the target. Unlike an atmospheric dogfight, the pilots of the vessels can operate fully in all 3 axis, even waiting until the last second and thrusting backwards to avoid a weapon.

Nukes seem to me to just be too expensive, unless you can garauntee a skin detonation or make them "armor piercing". But then I would only want to use them on battleships or cuisers to get the full benefits of the weapon. It would suck to waste a megaton+ weapon on a one or two man fighter. But if you could use it on troopship or a fighter carrier, you would be able to do some worthwhile damage.
Nukes would even be a waste for use in orbital bombardment. Here again kinetic energy weapons would be best, just drop rocks on your targets.

One more thought on energy weapons... How about a microwave laser? you could cook the crew and the then capture the ship for your own.

overrated
2002-Sep-06, 12:33 AM
Spaceships would be able to maneuver without atmospheric constraint, true, but they'd still have inertia. So suddenly moving backward isn't really an option unless you're a) in a really, really light craft, and b) not moving fast.

Missiles could be powered by nuclear-fueled engines, which would increase range, and the engines wouldn't have to fire all the time (maybe just for initial acceleration, course correction, and near-impact acceleration), which would save fuel.

I say go with KE weapons at close range.

For my money, lasers are just the neatest-looking idea for space combat (in my imagination, anyway). With nothing to refract the beam, you couldn't see it--you'd just see where it hit.

Azpod
2002-Sep-06, 01:36 AM
I have read extensively the Nuclear Weapons FAQ pages at http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq0.html

They have LOTS of information on nuclear weapons and their effects. What you would most likely be interested in is section 5, which talks about what happens during a nuclear explosion, in a step-by-step approach.

As for your ideas, first I must point out that the largest nuclear weapons that exist don't get most of their energy from plutonium, enriched uranium or even fusion! It's natural uranium that provides most of the punch! The idea that you had about having a shell of plutonium is actually being done, but it's uranium, not plutonium. The reasons why are simple: it's cheap and abundant, and unlike fusion, it's easier to construct a supercritical mass.

That's not to say that plutonium and nuclear fusion aren't being used. Quite the contrary! Plutonium is used because it is the easiest to construct into a critical mass, and the easiest explosion to control. Unless its a small bomb, the plutonium exists only to trigger the fusion explosion. The fusion explosion in turn send out the high-energy neutrons that are needed to fission U-238, and the shell of natural uranium does the rest.

However, given all of that, one would still need to detonate a sizeable nuke fairly close to a spacecraft to punch a hole into it. Ablative shielding would help if the bomb is 30 or so kilometers away, but if it is within 10 kilometers away, the shields would accomplish very little. Quite the contrary, they would absorb the energy of the bomb and vaporize with explosive force, adding to the already considerable EMP and radiation damage from the bomb. Regardless of what it is made of, anything with a couple of hundred meters of the bomb would immediately be turned into hot plasma. That is no less true in space than it is here on Earth. Also, because there is no air to absorb and re-emit the radiation into the visible wavelengths, the gamma and X rays from the bomb would penetrate the shielding farther away than they would on Earth, and immediately vaporize them. That would be like having plastic explosives for shielding, then detonating them all at the same time! As a result, the bomb would immediately destroy any spacecraft that is nearby, regardless of construction.

"Shaped" nukes might be possible, but it would require multiple nukes timed to perfection. Also the effect would be mainly local, so I don't think that it would provide much of a benefit in destroying a hardened target. If the target spacecraft is a colony deep in an asteroid or something, the only way to destroy the target would be to use multiple nukes to "tunnel" your way in, and they would have to distant enough from each other that one nuke wouldn't disable the next one in line. The soviets had plans like that to dig their way into NORAD during a full-scale nuclear exchange. However, since each nuke would have to detonate in the hollow crater left by the last nuke, one failed detonation could leave the remaining warheads impacting harmlessly on the ground before detonation.

The best defense against such a barrage in space would be defensive lasers and/or missiles. That would be far more effective than any armor.

Enjoy!

overrated
2002-Sep-06, 02:16 AM
I'm pretty sure fusion weapons' oomph comes not from the plutonium or uranium trigger, but from the resultant fusion of tritium and dueterium.

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: overrated on 2002-09-05 22:17 ]</font>

Azpod
2002-Sep-06, 02:44 AM
On 2002-09-05 22:16, overrated wrote:
I'm pretty sure fusion weapons' oomph comes not from the plutonium or uranium trigger, but from the resultant fusion of tritium and dueterium.


Yes, it does. About 30% of it. The remaining 70% comes from the fission of U-238 that is allowed because of the fast neutrons spit out in the fusion process. Check out the NWFAQ if you don't believe me.

H-Bombs use a 3 stage process: fission (plutonium or U-235 trigger) -> fusion (H2 & H3) -> fission (U-238, lots of it)

The REALLY big bombs chain that process even more, since each stage can drive the energy for even more fusion which can supply the fast neutrons for even more fission. Thankfully, these bombs don't work well for loading onto bombers or missiles, since they are so large.

Clarification: yes, you can create bombs that are multi-stage that are "clean" such that past the first fission-triggered stage, each fusion stage is compressed by a lead sheet, not natural uranium. But while you can create large bombs this way, it is not much more expensive to double or even triple the yield by using natural uranium instead of lead to compress the fusion fuel in each stage.

This, of course, is a "dirty" bomb, which would cause a great deal of lingering radiation on Earth, but (aside from having your target in low Earth orbit) would simply blow away with the Solar wind if used in space.

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Azpod on 2002-09-05 23:59 ]</font>

Paul Best
2002-Sep-06, 04:44 AM
The REALLY big bombs chain that process even more, since each stage can drive the energy for even more fusion which can supply the fast neutrons for even more fission. Thankfully, these bombs don't work well for loading onto bombers or missiles, since they are so large.



Aren't these the exact kinds of bombs that the B-52s were designed to carry? Think back to Dr. Strangelove and how it only had two bombs in the whole bomb-bay.

Personally I have better feelings about "dirty" bombs than "clean" ones since it takes the people in charge being that much more insane to actually try using them.

Silas
2002-Sep-06, 05:29 AM
On 2002-09-04 14:02, Donnie B. wrote:
Don't count on EMP. If memory serves, the electromagnetic pulse effect is created by interactions between the fireball and Earth's atmosphere at high altitude. Probably wouldn't work in space.

I'm VERY uncertain, but I thought that the EMP effect came from the unleashing of HUGE numbers of electrons ("Beta Rays") in a fission explosion. If you flood the vicinity with electrons, it makes sense that unshielded electronics will suffer damage.

I'm also minded that the photographs of atom bomb explosions were carefully edited (censored) to hide the lightning strikes that paralleled the bomb tests. As I understand it, the EMP effect was a "military secret" until the Soviet Union got their own bomb tests going.

Silas

Kizarvexis
2002-Sep-06, 07:46 AM
I'm VERY uncertain, but I thought that the EMP effect came from the unleashing of HUGE numbers of electrons ("Beta Rays") in a fission explosion. ...

Silas


Here's a quote from the FAQ (http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq0.html) above on EMP. Sounds like what your describing is largely correct.



5.5 Electromagnetic Effects
The high temperatures and energetic radiation produced by nuclear explosions also produce large amounts of ionized (electrically charged) matter which is present immediately after the explosion. Under the right conditions, intense currents and electromagnetic fields can be produced, generically called EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse), that are felt at long distances. Living organisms are impervious to these effects, but electrical and electronic equipment can be temporarily or permanently disabled by them. Ionized gases can also block short wavelength radio and radar signals (fireball blackout) for extended periods.

The occurrence of EMP is strongly dependent on the altitude of burst. It can be significant for surface or low altitude bursts (below 4,000 m); it is very significant for high altitude bursts (above 30,000 m); but it is not significant for altitudes between these extremes. This is because EMP is generated by the asymmetric absorption of instantaneous gamma rays produced by the explosion. At intermediate altitudes the air absorbs these rays fairly uniformly and does not generate long range electromagnetic disturbances.

The formation EMP begins with the very intense, but very short burst of gamma rays caused by the nuclear reactions in the bomb. About 0.3% of the bomb's energy is in this pulse, but it lasts for only 10 nanoseconds or so. These gamma rays collide with electrons in air molecules, and eject the electrons at high energies through a process called Compton scattering. These energetic electrons in turn knock other electrons loose, and create a cascade effect that produces some 30,000 electrons for every original gamma ray.

In low altitude explosions the electrons, being very light, move much more quickly than the ionized atoms they are removed from and diffuse away from the region where they are formed. This creates a very strong electric field which peaks in intensity at 10 nanoseconds. The gamma rays emitted downward however are absorbed by the ground which prevents charge separation from occurring. This creates a very strong vertical electric current which generates intense electromagnetic emissions over a wide frequency range (up to 100 MHZ) that emanate mostly horizontally. At the same time, the earth acts as a conductor allowing the electrons to flow back toward the burst point where the positive ions are concentrated. This produces a strong magnetic field along the ground. Although only about 3x10^-10 of the total explosion energy is radiated as EMP in a ground burst (10^6 joules for 1 Mt bomb), it is concentrated in a very short pulse. The charge separation persists for only a few tens of microseconds, making the emission power some 100 gigawatts. The field strengths for ground bursts are high only in the immediate vicinity of the explosion. For smaller bombs they aren't very important because they are strong only where the destruction is intense anyway. With increasing yields, they reach farther from the zone of intense destruction. With a 1 Mt bomb, they remain significant out to the 2 psi overpressure zone (5 miles).

High altitude explosions produce EMPs that are dramatically more destructive. About 3x10^-5 of the bomb's total energy goes into EMP in this case, 10^11 joules for a 1 Mt bomb. EMP is formed in high altitude explosions when the downwardly directed gamma rays encounter denser layers of air below. A pancake shaped ionization region is formed below the bomb. The zone can extend all the way to the horizon, to 2500 km for an explosion at an altitude of 500 km. The ionization zone is up to 80 km thick at the center. The Earth's magnetic field causes the electrons in this layer to spiral as they travel, creating a powerful downward directed electromagnetic pulse lasting a few microseconds. A strong vertical electrical field (20-50 KV/m) is also generated between the Earth's surface and the ionized layer, this field lasts for several minutes until the electrons are recaptured by the air. Although the peak EMP field strengths from high altitude bursts are only 1-10% as intense as the peak ground burst fields, they are nearly constant over the entire Earth's surface under the ionized region.

The effects of these field on electronics is difficult to predict, but can be profound. Enormous induced electric currents are generated in wires, antennas, and metal objects (like missiles, airplanes, and building frames). Commercial electrical grids are immense EMP antennas and would be subjected to voltage surges far exceeding those created by lightning, and over vastly greater areas. Modern VLSI chips are extremely sensitive to voltage surges, and would be burned out by even small leakage currents. Military equipment is generally designed to be resistant to EMP, but realistic tests are very difficult to perform and EMP protection rests on attention to detail. Minor changes in design, incorrect maintenance procedures, poorly fitting parts, loose debris, moisture, and ordinary dirt can all cause elaborate EMP protections to be totally circumvented. It can be expected that a single high yield, high altitude explosion over an industrialized area would cause massive disruption for an indeterminable period, and would cause huge economic damages (all those damaged chips add up).

A separate effect is the ability of the ionized fireball to block radio and radar signals. Like EMP, this effect becomes important with high altitude bursts. Fireball blackout can cause radar to be blocked for tens of seconds to minutes over an area tens of kilometers across. High frequency radio can be disrupted over hundreds to thousands of kilometers for minutes to hours depending on exact conditions.

Since the EMP descriptions above involve gamma rays hitting air molecules, I don't think much EMP would be generated in space, execpt maybe in nearby spacecraft where the gamma rays can reach the internal atmosphere.

I'm not an expert, but Tom Clancy's book, "The Sum of All Fears" seems to have a layman's description of a nuclear explosion that fits well with what I've read on the FAQ (http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq0.html)

As a side note the FAQ had this to say about fallout.


The chief delayed effect is the creation of huge amounts of radioactive material with long lifetimes (half-lifes ranging from days to millennia). The primary source of these products is the debris left from fission reactions. A potentially significant secondary source is neutron capture by non-radioactive isotopes both within the bomb and in the outside environment.

It goes on to say that "These radioactive products are most hazardous when they settle to the ground as 'fallout'."

Kizarvexis

Kaptain K
2002-Sep-07, 05:23 PM
It can be expected that a single high yield, high altitude explosion over an industrialized area would cause massive disruption for an indeterminable period, and would cause huge economic damages (all those damaged chips add up).
The real economic damage from EMP stems from the fact that "currency" (bank notes and coins) represent less than 10% of the total money supply. The rest (90+%) exists solely as data stored on computers. A few muti-megaton explosions over say LA, KC and NY and "poof" there goes your bank account, your retirement fund and the entire economic system.

Paul Best
2002-Sep-07, 08:15 PM
That at least is something that movies have gotten correct. In Goldeneye a major plot in the movie was to transfer money from banks in england to off shore accounts and then use the orbiting bomb to destroy all the records of the transactions.

Though it did make me wonder why truely vital systems wouldn't be shielded against such attacks. Am I correct in thinking that a simple faraday cage would be sufficient to protect against emp?

Conrad
2002-Sep-08, 01:34 AM
Am I correct in thinking that there is a practical upper limit for atomic weapons, but no theoretical upper limit for h-bombs?

As for the neutron-bomb, it was designed as an anti-tank weapon, to take out whole divisions of rampaging Soviet tanks without destroying Germany. One proposed defence against it was coating tanks with (I think) zirconium, so ditto for spacecraft.

Possibly your kinetic weapons of choice against enemy space craft might be electronically-activated rifle-calibre rounds. A current Australian design (dreamt up by an Aussie in his garage, I kid you not!) has a rate of fire of a million rounds per minute. If each round was Depleted Uranium Core, Californium Tipped then they'd make a mighty big mess of whatever they hit, and you could pump out thousands of the little swine.

As for nukes, perhaps what you want is a MIRVMIRV Splinter Pack, where one bus releases a dozen separate homing missiles, each of which releases a dozen homing warheads (some dummies, some decoys). 144 warheads from a single missile, each warhead with randomised trajectory alterations to make laser-counter targetting harder.

Or, rather than having nuclear missiles, you could use nuclear mines. Have the enemy come to you, as it were. Bait enemy spacecraft into your minefields and Kerblammo! Of course, you'd need to have *really* accurate maps.

overrated
2002-Sep-08, 02:36 AM
A million rounds a minute? What the... that's insane. The GAU-4, which, as far as I know, has the highest rate of fire of any automatic cannon used in the U.S. military, only does 6,000 or so a minute.

How would you cool such a weapon? How many barrels would it have? Is it rifled? You'd have to carry a ton (maybe literally) of ammo, that's for sure....

Silas
2002-Sep-08, 03:32 AM
On 2002-09-07 22:36, overrated wrote:
A million rounds a minute? What the... that's insane. . . .

If I remember correctly, the original gadget involved lining up ordinary rifle bullets in a tube, and discharging them (electrically?) in such a way that they all essentially went off at the same time. The result was described as a "cylinder of lead" flying through the air.

Much like the "rail gun" concept, it only works once, quite destroying the tube in the process... But, yeah, the concept could support "insane" rates of fire.

re upper limits of fission bombs...nope. Just keep building up shells of Uranium...

re "directional" warheads, I'm reminded of the notion of using fission bombs as propulsion for a space-ship. (I saw this on tv, demonstrated in a scale model, using ordinary explosives. The first "bang" pushed the ship up a few inches; the next pushed it up a few feet; the third pushed it up a few hundred feet...) In the same way, then, a "staged" sequence of bombs could propel the final warhead (whether inertial, energy-based, or whatever) at one heck of a final speed...

Silas

Paul Best
2002-Sep-08, 03:50 AM
That could have been Orion or Medusa. If my memory serves me correctly, with orion bombs are simply dropped out of the back and a heavy lead plate is used to take the force of the blast. In medusa the blast is captured by a parachute like sail that makes the effect of a pulsed nuke engine less jarring.
Both aren't fit for manned missions for reasons that should be obvious.

Does anyone know anything about safer ways to get going fast? Ion engines, plasma rockets, ntr, etc?

Also just because something has a firing rate of a million rounds per minute, doesn't mean you have to carry a million rounds.

If the bullets were in a tube and they were expelled electrically causing them to all be fired at once, it was most likely a gauss rifle. Though I haven't heard of a practical one yet.

(now why are all my posts showing up with small text?)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Paul Best on 2002-09-08 00:01 ]</font>

Conrad
2002-Sep-08, 07:17 PM
"A million rounds per minute ..."

I should explain a bit further, or at least what I know. The "gun" consists of a series of tubes held in a square frame, each tube holding one bullet. There are several frames arranged one behind the other. When the bullets in one frame are fired, they all go at once, followed by those in the next frame within a fraction of a second. The effect has been described as a "death ray of lead".
So, if you had a frame 1000 tubes wide by 1000 tubes tall and discharged them all simultaneously then you'd have an rpm of something like 1,000,000 rounds per second ... at least.

Another weapon might be hungry little microbots. If it were possible to make them -tropic to materials used in spaceship design (ferro-tropic? Aluminotropic? Micatropic?) then a cloud of them could be deployed along an approach trajectory. Spaceship travels through cloud, picks up miniature hitch-hikers, gets corroded to bits.

Then there's micro-filaments. Say spun sapphire, kept in a web a thousand kilometres wide by - ooh, I dunno, electrostatic forces? (complete guess there, folks)- hard to spot, liable to slice and dice anything travelling into it.

Azpod
2002-Sep-08, 10:32 PM
On 2002-09-07 23:32, Silas wrote:

re upper limits of fission bombs...nope. Just keep building up shells of Uranium...


Actually, yes there are upper limits to the yield of pure fission devices. Shells of uranium outside the core of the bomb need to either be at supercritical mass or bathed in neutrons to detonate. The former is very difficult to do because the compression wave from the core of the bomb going nuclear would tend to blow the shells apart, rather than compressing them into a critical mass. If you are trying to compress the shells from the outside prior to detonating the core, and forcing them to reach critical mass that way, all you are doing is building a bigger core. There is an upper limit to how big the core can get before it will meltdown on its own, and a larger core means a greater chance that a stray neutron will prematurely set off a chain reaction as you're in the process of compressing the core towards critical mass, thereby causing predetonation and drastically cutting your yield down.

Also, while any shells of uranium will be bathed in neutrons from any nuclear explosion, a fission explosion releases far fewer neutrons per kilogram than any form of nuclear fusion. So while you can boost the yield some by having an extremely dirty bumb made up of a core and numerous U-235 shells outside of the core, the theoretical upper limit is one fission for every stray neutron from the core. (And in reality, it is actually much lower.) Since the size of the core is limited, the total yield for a pure fission device is limited, no matter how dirty it is.

The only way to create a pure fission device of unlimited yield is to have multiple cores that all go nuclear at exactly the same time. The technology for doing that is currently well beyond us, as one would need to compress multiple cores, get them to supercritical mass without any stray neutrons causing predetonation, and fire neutrons at all the cores such that the neutrons reach each one at exactly the right time for optimal yield. If ANYTHING goes wrong, one core will detonate first before the others reach peak criticality, and the remaining cores will all predetonate. While you can theoretically build enough cores to reach any level of yield, even given predetonation, it is FAR more efficient to use even a small amount of fusion to ensure that any uranium shells you may have receive well over the amount of neutrons needed to ensure optimal yield.

Also, fusion devices can be multi-staged, which is something that is impossible to do with fission devices. The reason multistage fission devices are impossible is because prior to compression, the cores for any additional fission stages are all but certain to receive numerous stray neutrons, preventing them from reaching optimal critical mass before they simply melt down.

<a href = "http://nuketesting.enviroweb.org/hew/Nwfaq/Nfaq4-5.html#Nfaq4.5">
Section 4.5 for the Nuclear Weapons FAQ has lots of into on multistage weapons</a>

_________________
If E = MC<sup>2</sup>, why do I have less energy the more mass my body acquires?
That is all.

--Azpod... Formerly known as James Justin

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Azpod on 2002-09-08 18:34 ]</font>

Paul Best
2002-Sep-09, 12:46 AM
On 2002-09-08 15:17, Conrad wrote:
"A million rounds per minute ..."

I should explain a bit further, or at least what I know. The "gun" consists of a series of tubes held in a square frame, each tube holding one bullet. There are several frames arranged one behind the other. When the bullets in one frame are fired, they all go at once, followed by those in the next frame within a fraction of a second. The effect has been described as a "death ray of lead".
So, if you had a frame 1000 tubes wide by 1000 tubes tall and discharged them all simultaneously then you'd have an rpm of something like 1,000,000 rounds per second ... at least.



I believe that rounds per minute is judged simply on how many bullets would be fired in one minute at the guns rate of fire. A million rounds a minute would allow for 1666 rounds in one second. The ammount of bullets actually fired doesn't matter, and neither does the reload time. Machineguns typically don't carry enough ammo for a minute of constant firing, but are still rated in rounds per minute.

Then again I might be wrong.

From your description now it sounds less like a gattling gun, or a machine gun, but a lot more like one of the weapons you'll often find at civil war reenactments, or at the start of an exhibit on automatic weapons. four small cannons all on the same carraige, all with the same wick. The strategy of simply filling the air with lead is also a rather 19th century concept.




Another weapon might be hungry little microbots. If it were possible to make them -tropic to materials used in spaceship design (ferro-tropic? Aluminotropic? Micatropic?) then a cloud of them could be deployed along an approach trajectory. Spaceship travels through cloud, picks up miniature hitch-hikers, gets corroded to bits.



Typical problems with micromachines would apply, mainly targeting, they don't descriminate, and if they're self replicating how do you stop them from spreading?

In any sensible sci-fi universe, such weapons would be as illigal as biological weapons are today.




Then there's micro-filaments. Say spun sapphire, kept in a web a thousand kilometres wide by - ooh, I dunno, electrostatic forces? (complete guess there, folks)- hard to spot, liable to slice and dice anything travelling into it.



People are constantly trying to ban landmines, but haven't yet succeeded. So I suppose this one is actually somewhat believable. How would it be kept in place though? Wouldn't something like that act like a solar sail and constantly drift away from where you wanted it?

Though it might make a good missile based weapon, fire a missile, it splits in two, and between the two is a better than razor sharp blade traveling at hypersonic speeds? Cheaper than a beam weapon, if a little slower.

Would one of these fibers be strong enough to cut through a spaceship?

David Hall
2002-Sep-09, 12:00 PM
On 2002-09-08 20:46, Paul Best wrote:

People are constantly trying to ban landmines, but haven't yet succeeded. So I suppose this one is actually somewhat believable. How would it be kept in place though? Wouldn't something like that act like a solar sail and constantly drift away from where you wanted it?

Though it might make a good missile based weapon, fire a missile, it splits in two, and between the two is a better than razor sharp blade traveling at hypersonic speeds? Cheaper than a beam weapon, if a little slower.

Would one of these fibers be strong enough to cut through a spaceship?


Keeping a net in place wouldn't be very hard. Simply attach some weights to the edges and give it a slight spin. The spin not only keeps it open, it also keeps it in a single orientation, like a gyroscope. Light pressure from the Sun might be a problem, but if it's made of molecularly-thin wires, and dark, there wouldn't be much effective surface for it to work on.

I agree that it probably wouldn't be a very effective mine-type weapon though. A ship would have to encounter it at a very high velocity for it to do much damage. Since it has a large surface area, any impact would be spread out over the entire area of contact. It might not be able to cut through unless it was going very fast. I guess it would depend on how dense you made the weave. A tight weave might be too dense to penetrate the ship, whereas a loose weave would cut better, but there'd be less filaments to cut with.

The missle idea sounds good though. Give them a large thrust and send the wire towards the enemy. Slice and dice. But it would probably do better as a loose web strung between several missles than a single thin wire. More area to hit with. But what's to make this more desirable than a simple missle with a shrapnel-filled warhead and a proximity fuse?

Valiant Dancer
2002-Sep-09, 04:46 PM
On 2002-09-07 22:36, overrated wrote:
A million rounds a minute? What the... that's insane. The GAU-4, which, as far as I know, has the highest rate of fire of any automatic cannon used in the U.S. military, only does 6,000 or so a minute.

How would you cool such a weapon? How many barrels would it have? Is it rifled? You'd have to carry a ton (maybe literally) of ammo, that's for sure....



I believe that is 4,500 rpm. The sea whiz (MK 15 Phalanx CIWS) for anti-missile protection.

http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ship/weaps/mk-15.htm

Available on the USS Coral Sea (CVB 43) and USS Wisconsin (BB 64). In the handy "What the heck was that" pack.

Next is the GAU-8 which fires at 4,200 rpm. Available on the A-10 Thunderbolt in the handy "Where'd my tank go" pack.

But, in a handy dandy Google search, I have found others with higher rpm.

M61A2 - 7,200 rpm.
GSh-6-23 (Soviet) - 12,000 rpm (installed on Su 24Ms)

But, why use high tech when low tech will do and make a neater noise. Firing solid metal missiles at a target makes nice holes in an enemy and are economical, too. No problems with radiation or being too close to the blast area.

Paul Best
2002-Sep-09, 08:10 PM
But what's to make this more desirable than a simple missle with a shrapnel-filled warhead and a proximity fuse?



Its so much cooler!

Besides, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to me that a layered armor with a liquid component could be made to almost instantaneously fill small hull breeches. But if you were to cut the ship in half (or into smaller pieces with a net) Theres not much you can do about it.

Also I do find net based weaponry interesting. As it could serve as a good way to give a nice localized blast of emp, or pull a ship off course, or do a lot of other fun things... Non-lethal weapons in space?

Of course the problem being if you can make weapons out of nanotubes, you can almost certainly make armor for ships too.

n810
2002-Sep-10, 06:30 PM
I must say, the concept of a net weapon is terribly fun. I'd love to see something like that in action. You could strectch it out in front of an oncoming ship, carve it into slices and then watch as the ship continues on it's way, seperating as the atmosphere out gases and fuel lines leak explosively. the only thing that would be more interesting to watch would be if you could turn off the net right before the ship was completly cut apart, and watch the ship unfold like a flower.

Silas
2002-Sep-11, 01:00 AM
On 2002-09-10 14:30, n810 wrote:
I must say, the concept of a net weapon is terribly fun. I'd love to see something like that in action. You could strectch it out in front of an oncoming ship, carve it into slices and then watch as the ship continues on it's way, seperating as the atmosphere out gases and fuel lines leak explosively. the only thing that would be more interesting to watch would be if you could turn off the net right before the ship was completly cut apart, and watch the ship unfold like a flower.





That's poetic! You might well have a future as a science fiction writer!

Now... Thinking of defenses... You'd want to surround your ship with outlying "balloons" that (by being sliced to bits) would betray the position of the nets. This (might?) allow you to maneuver into the gaps (?) between the nets...

If you, too, have the technology to make "net stuff," then you might send out counter-nets, and let the two nets carve each other into short strands...

But, those strands would still be mighty darn dangerous! You wouldn't want to hit one at any meaningful speed... So, like most minefields, this would serve the purpose of slowing the enemy down, not actually stopping him or destroying him...

I'm sitting here envisioning some sort of spinning "bolo" weapon that you fling out ahead at high speed... Nasty!

I mentioned that "gravitics" change everything... I envision gravitational control, including intertial compensators, plus a gravitational equivalent of radar. Given those concepts, the "net" weapon might (or might not!) be defeated, since your ordinary "navigational deflectors" (Star Trek) would sweep them aside, just like any other small-mass bit of space debris.

Or...(science fiction being what it is) Maybe Not!

Silas

Paul Best
2002-Sep-11, 02:32 AM
The main problem with gravitics is how are you really going to make it work?

As far as defence against nanofiber nets, I think that a mesh armor made out of the same materials layerd into a bullet proof vest type covering for the ship would be able to deflect an attack with it (though then the net would close around the ship wouldn't it?)

I think there are great possibilities in science fiction set in space without the need for hyperdrives, faster than light travel, artificial gravity, transporters, and even anyplace outside of the solar system.
Even without aliens. People with funny bumps on thier heads do not an alien make.

Silas
2002-Sep-11, 04:36 PM
On 2002-09-10 22:32, Paul Best wrote:
The main problem with gravitics is how are you really going to make it work?

. . .

I think there are great possibilities in science fiction set in space without the need for hyperdrives, faster than light travel, artificial gravity, transporters, and even anyplace outside of the solar system.



Artificial gravity is necessary for really big warships. Otherwise, a big ship is just a big target (think blimp.)

I agree with your major premise...but I also enjoy sf that *does* incorporate those elements...

One of the best "near future" treatments of space warfare was SPI's wargame "BattleFleet: Mars." You had the orbits of the inner planets on a map, and the various conjunctions were important when scheduling invasion fleets. The fleets were composed of smallish ships, little more than one or two-man working craft that were modified to fight. A very clever game, with a mighty fine back story.



Even without aliens. People with funny bumps on thier heads do not an alien make.


Grin! Agreement!

Silas

n810
2002-Sep-11, 05:06 PM
Well for my money, i'f I'm going into battle in space, there going to be a General Products Hull around me.

Oh yeah, and should we go about creating "artificial" gravity on these hypothetical large warships? I'm fairly certain that a big spinning drum would be very impractical.

g99
2002-Sep-11, 06:01 PM
but if you create artificial gravity on the ship it would really screw with the whole solar system. Imagine flicking a swithch and the gravitational force equal to the earth suddenly appears in earths orbit!!! Yikes!!!

Paul Best
2002-Sep-11, 06:27 PM
Artificial gravity is necessary for really big warships. Otherwise, a big ship is just a big target (think blimp.)



I don't really see how artificial gravity
would help make ships less of a target.
Wouldn't it actually make it a bigger target
as projectiles would fall towards the ship?

I seem to remember that in the book "the physics of star trek" there was a good bit about using artificially generated gravity to deflect weapons and the ammounts of gravity required to do it.

About the only way I see to do it is make the
ship have a big saucer shaped section. If you've ever seen babylon 5, think of space force 1.



One of the best "near future" treatments of space warfare was SPI's wargame "BattleFleet: Mars." You had the orbits of the inner planets on a map, and the various conjunctions were important when scheduling invasion fleets. The fleets were composed of smallish ships, little more than one or two-man working craft that were modified to fight. A very clever game, with a mighty fine back story.



Do they still sell it? Know of a website where I can get it?

n810
2002-Sep-11, 06:37 PM
On 2002-09-11 14:01, g99 wrote:
but if you create artificial gravity on the ship it would really screw with the whole solar system. Imagine flicking a swithch and the gravitational force equal to the earth suddenly appears in earths orbit!!! Yikes!!!



I never thought about it that way... That would make a powerful weapon in itself. You could screw up tides, weather patterns, cause earthquakes (how james bondish). A grravity generator might even be more effective for launching asteroids at a planet than a rail gun. You could use the belt, or even the Oort cloud as ammunition. Talk about war on a godly scale.

Silas
2002-Sep-11, 07:39 PM
On 2002-09-11 14:27, Paul Best wrote:


[quote]
One of the best "near future" treatments of space warfare was SPI's wargame "BattleFleet: Mars."

Do they still sell it? Know of a website where I can get it?


I knew it was out of print, but I didn't realize that it had vanished from the face of the earth! I'm quite surprised, actually: I would at least have thought there'd be five or six different copies for sale on ebay!

Since it is out of print (and the copyright holders are out of business...twice...) I think it would be okay for me to send you a xerox of the rules booklet, anyway, if you want to email me...

Silas

overrated
2002-Sep-11, 11:30 PM
As far as gravity, Alan Dean Foster at one point had ships flying through space by virtue of gravity... they had equipment that created a gravity well in front of the ship, causing it to accelerate.

g99
2002-Sep-11, 11:52 PM
heck, i have a better idea for a weapon, a sure fire hit that will be impossible to stop and nearly i possible to defend against. Why not (but only if you really don't like all life in the solar system, cause a gravity well behind a planet and cause its sun and all planets to carrren towards it. That would not be nice, but it would be effective.

Geo3gh
2002-Sep-12, 12:54 AM
On 2002-09-11 15:39, Silas wrote:


On 2002-09-11 14:27, Paul Best wrote:


[quote]
One of the best "near future" treatments of space warfare was SPI's wargame "BattleFleet: Mars."

Do they still sell it? Know of a website where I can get it?


I knew it was out of print, but I didn't realize that it had vanished from the face of the earth! I'm quite surprised, actually: I would at least have thought there'd be five or six different copies for sale on ebay!

Since it is out of print (and the copyright holders are out of business...twice...) I think it would be okay for me to send you a xerox of the rules booklet, anyway, if you want to email me...

Silas



Noble Knight Games (http://www.nobleknight.com) has it in stock for $40.

Just use the search button for "Battlefleet"

Paul Best
2002-Sep-12, 08:23 PM
Thanks for that URL, it should come in handy.

I had a thought about another way in which a net type weapon might be useful. It would be a handy way to restrain another ships movements, while sending a boarding party over to it using a line still attached to the ship.

Avatar28
2002-Sep-12, 09:41 PM
On 2002-09-05 22:44, Azpod wrote:
Yes, it does. About 30% of it. The remaining 70% comes from the fission of U-238 that is allowed because of the fast neutrons spit out in the fusion process. Check out the NWFAQ if you don't believe me.

H-Bombs use a 3 stage process: fission (plutonium or U-235 trigger) -> fusion (H2 & H3) -> fission (U-238, lots of it)

The REALLY big bombs chain that process even more, since each stage can drive the energy for even more fusion which can supply the fast neutrons for even more fission. Thankfully, these bombs don't work well for loading onto bombers or missiles, since they are so large.

Clarification: yes, you can create bombs that are multi-stage that are "clean" such that past the first fission-triggered stage, each fusion stage is compressed by a lead sheet, not natural uranium. But while you can create large bombs this way, it is not much more expensive to double or even triple the yield by using natural uranium instead of lead to compress the fusion fuel in each stage.

This, of course, is a "dirty" bomb, which would cause a great deal of lingering radiation on Earth, but (aside from having your target in low Earth orbit) would simply blow away with the Solar wind if used in space.


Actually, if I'm not mistaken, I believe that Bravo, the biggest bomb we ever detonated, was so powerful because of the extra fuel added by the fission of Lithium. I'd have to find the link, but I'm willing to go searching for it if no one knows where it is.

Avatar28
2002-Sep-12, 09:56 PM
Okay, here's how I did it. I designed a ship for a role playing game that ended up just falling apart. I still hope to turn it into a real story someday, though.

Anyways, here's how I had the ship's main cannon working. A cylindrical magnetic field is projected towards the target. A fusionable mass of material was accelerated to an insane speed (a significant fraction of C) down the middle of this magnetic tube. As soon as the "shell" is a specified distance from the target, a multi-terawatt laser is fire into (and through) it. The laser provides the energy to cause the matter to begin to fusion. The plasma is contained by the tube and inertia causes it to continue travelling down the tube toward the target. The laser alone would probably do a noticable amount of damage to the target, but that's followed up by the nuclear blast impacting a split second behind it.

Any opinions? I tried to make at least SOMEWHAT believable, assuming lots of technology that we have yet to be able to develop.

I also developed a method of FTL travel that doesn't, as far as I can tell, violate relativity. It was inspired by the Philadelphia Experiment. Basically, the ship uses gravity generators to effectively curve space around it and effectively fold itself out of space-time. When it does this, it puts itself in some sort of different dimension where it's able to sidestep relativity and it's speed limiting effects. I'm not real sure HOW this other dimension works, but I needed SOME sort of vehicle to get out of the solar system and it seemed as good as any. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Any thoughts on these?

Silas
2002-Sep-12, 11:12 PM
On 2002-09-12 17:56, Avatar28 wrote:
Okay, here's how I did it. I designed a ship for a role playing game that ended up just falling apart. I still hope to turn it into a real story someday, though.

Anyways, here's how I had the ship's main cannon working. A cylindrical magnetic field is projected towards the target. A fusionable mass of material was accelerated to an insane speed (a significant fraction of C) down the middle of this magnetic tube. As soon as the "shell" is a specified distance from the target, a multi-terawatt laser is fire into (and through) it. The laser provides the energy to cause the matter to begin to fusion. The plasma is contained by the tube and inertia causes it to continue travelling down the tube toward the target. The laser alone would probably do a noticable amount of damage to the target, but that's followed up by the nuclear blast impacting a split second behind it.

Any opinions? I tried to make at least SOMEWHAT believable, assuming lots of technology that we have yet to be able to develop.



It sounds plausible. It doesn't depend on Star Trek "double-talk," which is always nice!




I also developed a method of FTL travel that doesn't, as far as I can tell, violate relativity. It was inspired by the Philadelphia Experiment. Basically, the ship uses gravity generators to effectively curve space around it and effectively fold itself out of space-time. When it does this, it puts itself in some sort of different dimension where it's able to sidestep relativity and it's speed limiting effects. I'm not real sure HOW this other dimension works, but I needed SOME sort of vehicle to get out of the solar system and it seemed as good as any. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Any thoughts on these?


You rogue! That's the way I do it in my stories! (Well, no, your way has enough differences. Besides, I stole my ideas from Marc Miller, designer of the Traveller role playing game!) Again, it seems like a workable idea, so long as you argue that the gravitational curve is so very, very tight that it doesn't just "bend" space, but "breaks" it, sorta kinda. You'd need the kind of gravitational densities you'd find in a black hole or wormhole.

(I'm also reminded of the story, by an author whose name I cannot remember, in which the scientists finally found a way to cross over into hyperspace... Unfortunately, they found that the speed of light in hyperspace was even *lower* than it is in our cosmos...)

Silas

Avatar28
2002-Sep-12, 11:54 PM
It sounds plausible. It doesn't depend on Star Trek "double-talk," which is always nice!


Well, I try for at least SOME degree of reasonably scientific explanation in stuff. Even with fantasy and magic, I still have to have some explanation why, even if it's only consistent with the framework of that world.




You rogue! That's the way I do it in my stories! (Well, no, your way has enough differences. Besides, I stole my ideas from Marc Miller, designer of the Traveller role playing game!) Again, it seems like a workable idea, so long as you argue that the gravitational curve is so very, very tight that it doesn't just "bend" space, but "breaks" it, sorta kinda. You'd need the kind of gravitational densities you'd find in a black hole or wormhole.


I suspect that sort of idea is somewhat common, though I've not seen it used anywhere. But my idea is you actually fold space all the way around the ship. I.E. the space on one side is bent around the ship and directly connects to the space on the other side. But, yes, I see your point about you would effectively have to rip space to do it.

I actually had several other ideas I really liked too. Like ancient ruins from a vanished race. The players had just landed on one as one of their first adventures when the game broke apart. One of the things they would find if/when they got it activated was an ancient network of artifical wormholes (think stargate) that would effectively let a person walk down a short hallway. They enter it in star system A, they exit in star system B which could be hundreds or even millions of light years from system A. They wouldn't have been able to take their ships, of course, but it could have made for some interesting adventures.


(I'm also reminded of the story, by an author whose name I cannot remember, in which the scientists finally found a way to cross over into hyperspace... Unfortunately, they found that the speed of light in hyperspace was even *lower* than it is in our cosmos...)


Yes! I know the story. It was in The Year's Best Science Fiction Short Short Stories. Came out in the late 80's I believe. I had the book for years but seem to have lost it. I would LOVE to find it again some day. One of the best stories in the book was EXTREMELY short. It was called The Sign At The End Of The Universe. The entire story was "This End Up" written upside down.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Avatar28 on 2002-09-12 20:00 ]</font>

Paul Best
2002-Sep-14, 02:34 AM
I understand the concept of how wormholes work. The thing I want to know was asked earlier, if you use electromagnetism to somehow create gravity and use that to bend space-time to that extent, wouldn't you be taking the whole solar system with you?

If faster than light travel is really going to work, we have to find some way to cheat, like hyperspace on babylon 5, or policeboxes that are bigger inside than out, or we're going to have to build great big interstellar highways which would involve more math than I think even ascii white could do. Lets just hope nobody needs a bypass in out area.

Avatar28
2002-Sep-14, 01:14 PM
On 2002-09-13 22:34, Paul Best wrote:
I understand the concept of how wormholes work. The thing I want to know was asked earlier, if you use electromagnetism to somehow create gravity and use that to bend space-time to that extent, wouldn't you be taking the whole solar system with you?


No. At least not in my universe. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif You just effectively grab the space next to the ship, fold it around you, effectively ripping a hole in space/time and folding yourself out of it and into some sort of hyperspatial dimension.



If faster than light travel is really going to work, we have to find some way to cheat, like hyperspace on babylon 5, or policeboxes that are bigger inside than out, or we're going to have to build great big interstellar highways which would involve more math than I think even ascii white could do. Lets just hope nobody needs a bypass in out area.


Yeah, that's what I used, hyperspace.

As far as the interstellare highways goes, yeah, it would suck for the Vogon to come along and destroy the planet for a bypass. Maybe that's what we need. An Infinite Improbability Drive. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cool.gif

Paul Best
2002-Sep-15, 12:26 AM
I wish I had my own universe. It would certainly make things much easier.

I remember hearing recently (that is in the last few years that is) that propulsion technologies like plasma rockets and nuclear thermal rockets can cut the trip time to mars from being three months to three weeks.

If I recall correctly, it took magellan over a year to sail around the world.

We need to go through a period of time where it does take a long time to make it from one side of the solar system to the other.

Think about all the possibilities. It'll be taking a society used to instantaneous messages, travel to anywhere in a few hours, and putting us back in a situation where news will travel slowly, where travel takes a long time, and nobody will have the ability to start bombing anybody else within 24 hours.

Silas
2002-Sep-15, 04:01 AM
On 2002-09-14 20:26, Paul Best wrote:
I wish I had my own universe. It would certainly make things much easier.


Back around 1992, an editor came to me and said, "Create a universe."

It's easier than you might think. (But the pay is crummy...)



If I recall correctly, it took magellan over a year to sail around the world.


One of my favorite trivia questions: "Who was Juan Sebastian Del Cano?" If you ever have the joy of seeing an international parade of Tall Ships, the J.S.del.C. is the Spanish Navy's training ship. It's a four-masted sailing ship (with engines too.) Very much a lovely vessel.

Sr. Del Cano was the senior officer of Magellan's crew to survive the voyage, and thus, unlike Magellan himself (who died en route) is entitled to the honor of being the first man to circumnavigate the globe.

Silas

SollyLama
2002-Sep-26, 08:53 PM
"I believe that rounds per minute is judged simply on how many bullets would be fired in one minute at the guns rate of fire. A
million rounds a minute would allow for 1666 rounds in one second. The ammount of bullets actually fired doesn't matter, and neither does the reload time. Machineguns typically don't carry enough ammo for a minute of constant firing, but are still rated in rounds per minute.
Then again I might be wrong."

--You're correct. All repeating weapons have Rate Of Fire (ROF) described as it's Cyclic rate. It is measured in rounds fired in one minute assuming unlimited ammo and zero effects on the machinery (guns fire slower as they heat up). For instance, the cyclic rate of the M249 SAW is fixed (it used to be adjustable) at 700rpm. It's highly unlikely the gun will function for a full minute of sustained fire, by 75 rounds or so you run the risk of cooking off the ammo in the chamber- what's known as a runaway gun.
Hi-speed multi-barrel cannon are the fastest shooters. The gatling style weapons on the Vulcan AA vehicle, Phalanx anti-missile system (known as R2D2), and the AC-130 Spectre gunships all spit out about 6000 rounds a minute. Spectre carries enough ammo to actually shoot for that long sustained, but it's tough on the equipment.
Neat factiod; the recoil of the cannon in the A-10 is so powerful that it slows the plane down in it's forward flight. Theoretically (ignoring stalls) it would slow the plane to a dead stop if fired long enough.
As for space combat, the US does have a kinetic energy weapon (solid warhead) used in space. The ASAT (anti-satellite) missile is fired from F-15's and is meant to knock out Russian spy satellites.
If I designed a weapon for space combat, I'd use the 3-dimensional aspect of space to my advantage. Like clusters of missiles that home in from several angles, overwhelming defensive systems. Think buckshot from ALL directions.
Considering the speeds of space travel, a spread of mines or some other debris would prove plenty lethal. Try slamming on the brakes to dodge mines at 50,000mph!
Energy weapons are tough because the precise tracking required would be enormously hard to calculate. The closing speeds of vehicles, a fully spherical option of trajectory changes, etc would make pinpoint shooting tough at best. Proximity weapons are a much easier option. Even if you had a computer fast enough to crunch the numbers and a sufficiently powerful energy weapon, building a turret or aiming device that can traverse quickly enough is the big issue.
How about launching a bunch of reflectors that tracked a target? Then you could fire a laser at different reflectors to attack from different angles.

kadath
2002-Sep-26, 09:38 PM
On 2002-09-08 15:17, Conrad wrote:
"A million rounds per minute ..."

I should explain a bit further, or at least what I know. The "gun" consists of a series of tubes held in a square frame, each tube holding one bullet. There are several frames arranged one behind the other. When the bullets in one frame are fired, they all go at once, followed by those in the next frame within a fraction of a second. The effect has been described as a "death ray of lead".
So, if you had a frame 1000 tubes wide by 1000 tubes tall and discharged them all simultaneously then you'd have an rpm of something like 1,000,000 rounds per second ... at least.


You're thinking of MetalStorm. http://www.metalstorm.com

Anectdotally, the founder of the company, an Aussie, built the prototype in his garage. I'm inclined to think that's as reliable as the one about the student who built a jet engine in his dorm room, but MetalStorm does have fewer moving parts than a turbofan...

Paul Best
2002-Sep-28, 06:47 PM
The power output for a laser to cause damage to a spaceship, the computational power to target the laser, and the optical systems to target the weapons will be there.

After all, the next generation of fighter aircraft will be armed with a laser. I think
I remember hearing that they will use adaptive optics to help compensate for the
effects of the atmosphere, same as with the
most recent optical telescopes.

http://slashdot.org/articles/02/09/27/1455215.shtml?tid=126

Silas
2002-Sep-29, 12:31 AM
On 2002-09-26 17:38, kadath wrote:
Anectdotally, the founder of the company, an Aussie, built the prototype in his garage. I'm inclined to think that's as reliable as the one about the student who built a jet engine in his dorm room, but MetalStorm does have fewer moving parts than a turbofan...


It was well documented: he only had one series of tubes, rather than a group of them in a frame, but he had things timed so perfectly that the slugs came out almost nose-to-tail. And, yeah, no moving parts!

Silas

kadath
2002-Sep-29, 03:13 PM
On 2002-09-28 20:31, Silas wrote:


On 2002-09-26 17:38, kadath wrote:
Anectdotally, the founder of the company, an Aussie, built the prototype in his garage. I'm inclined to think that's as reliable as the one about the student who built a jet engine in his dorm room, but MetalStorm does have fewer moving parts than a turbofan...


It was well documented: he only had one series of tubes, rather than a group of them in a frame, but he had things timed so perfectly that the slugs came out almost nose-to-tail. And, yeah, no moving parts!


Good to hear. I approve of ingenuity--even if it's ingenuity of the ill-advised mixing-electricity-with-gunpowder variety. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

2002-Oct-01, 04:36 PM
October 1, 2002 9:29 A.M. push for level 2 density in thread coverage
Maybe i'll return?
AND MAYBE i will NOT

Wiley
2002-Oct-01, 10:28 PM
On 2002-10-01 12:36, HUb' wrote:
October 1, 2002 9:29 A.M. push for level 2 density in thread coverage
Maybe i'll return?
AND MAYBE i will NOT


You will return. Yes, you WILL return.

Doodler
2002-Oct-09, 12:49 PM
Kind of an interesting aside, I have been in an ongoing discussion with Ed Mitchell on this subject. Anyone thought about how to clean up th emess after the fight? Keep in mind, all this debris stays in orbit for weeks, months or even hundreds of years depending on where the explosion took place. What are the chances someone would, with today's technology, want to blast ships out of space knowing they may never launch another spacecraft again because of the debris. Siege warfare anyone?

n810
2002-Oct-10, 08:44 PM
Wow... that is something I never considered. Makes disable and capture seem a very attractive alternative to destruction.

Can you imagine filling out the after action environmental impact reports on hundreds of tons of radioactive debris burning up in the atmosphere? Paperwork Reduction Act my ***!

Donnie B.
2002-Oct-10, 08:59 PM
I've always wanted to start a small business that would take on the job of near-Earth orbital "garbage collection".

You'd have a fleet of small spacecraft (manned, in my fantasy, but in reality robots would be better) that would match orbits with a piece of junk, sweep it up into some sort of container, then move on to the next bit of crud.

Once you had a full load you'd get rid of them in some fashion - shoot them into a lunar-impact trajectory, or drop them into the ocean -- and move on to the next batch. Hey, maybe you could make up some of the costs by selling the trash as certified "space junk". I'd like a bit of explosive bolt as a paperweight, how about you?

n810
2002-Oct-11, 08:09 PM
I'll take the final stage of an Apollo moon shot... I could cut it in half and turn it into a swimming pool.

Avatar28
2002-Oct-11, 09:50 PM
If you're spending all that money to get into orbit, might as well salvage what you can. Collect it all, bring it all back down to the surface, sell some off as novelty items. Guarantee there'd be people who would pay for an object that's really been in outer space. Take the rest and recycle what you can, dispose of the rest.

kadath
2002-Oct-11, 10:19 PM
On 2002-10-09 08:49, Doodler wrote:
Kind of an interesting aside, I have been in an ongoing discussion with Ed Mitchell on this subject. Anyone thought about how to clean up th emess after the fight? Keep in mind, all this debris stays in orbit for weeks, months or even hundreds of years depending on where the explosion took place. What are the chances someone would, with today's technology, want to blast ships out of space knowing they may never launch another spacecraft again because of the debris. Siege warfare anyone?



For a while, during the Cold War, DARPA and the DOD were looking at satellite killers:
Launch a small satellite loaded with 100 kgs of ball bearings. Explode it. The consequences are left as an exercise for the reader.

The space-debris-as-seige-weapon plot was used by Timothy Zahn in the Star Wars <u>Heir to the Empire</u> trilogy. Zahn, IMO, is a master of military SF.

Doodler
2002-Oct-16, 09:16 PM
I remember that system... Brilliant Pebbles. That would have been NASTY! I read an article on the CNN site about a company wanting to launch "tugs" to hook to dead satellites and bring them in for retrieval or for de-orbitting. The problem lies in convincing telecoms to surrender rights to salvage their multi-million dollar toys.

redrefractor
2002-Oct-23, 08:12 PM
I've always felt that the ideal armament for a spacecraft would be some kind of recoiless rocket launcher, or low-muzzle velocity machine gun. .50 caliber bullets would do horrific damage to a thin-skinned spacecraft.

Colt
2002-Oct-29, 07:38 AM
Ah, the good old Browning M2 .50" caliber would do fine against any spacecraft. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

I was thinking of having small rockets (for close in) that you would fire and they would explode close to the target and throw a cone of shrapnel into the target, like a shotgun. Many of the same concepts that tanks use for their rounds would work in space, HEAT, SABOT, etc.. Post more later, night. -Colt

Jetmech0417
2002-Oct-31, 07:57 PM
This may be a moot point, or it may have already been brought up, but you could just place your book in an alternate universe with a little disclaimer stating that any people, places, and events are merely fiction and any resemblence to actual people/places/events is merely coincidence. Then you can still have your Earth and humans (coincidentally, of course) and you can build the physics of the universe any way you see fit.

Jetmech0417
2002-Oct-31, 08:19 PM
I'm sitting here envisioning some sort of spinning "bolo" weapon that you fling out ahead at high speed... Nasty!

Makes me think of a monofilament idea attached to 5 spinning projectiles. If it hit near the bow or stern, dead on, it would spiral as it went in, and when the ship "flowered", it'd be in neat little curly-q's.

Paul Best
2002-Nov-03, 12:48 AM
On 2002-10-31 14:57, Jetmech0417 wrote:
This may be a moot point, or it may have already been brought up, but you could just place your book in an alternate universe with a little disclaimer stating that any people, places, and events are merely fiction and any resemblence to actual people/places/events is merely coincidence. Then you can still have your Earth and humans (coincidentally, of course) and you can build the physics of the universe any way you see fit.



Wheres the fun in that? The idea has been
done to death in Sci-fi, and most of us are sick and tired of it.

Whats the point of making up cool stuff if
it isn't even remotely possible in reality?

Though making a story in a universe with no
mistakes made, and no magical plot devices
would certainly give us a lot less to talk about.

moving_target
2002-Nov-03, 05:51 AM
all the talk in here has been on projectiles and explosives, what about all the stealth technology thats being developed now. It's not going away thats for sure. I doubt the future will be a contest of who has the biggest gun. I imagine that the object of space battles will be to sneak up to your opponent and fill him full of holes with whatever is handy before he even knows you are there.

If you still want to have nuclear bombs, how about an autonomous stealth missle that can home in from an insane distance. something that small could easily be lost in the blackness of space.

but the point is, the way modern warfare is going, the future of combat is be invisible, strike first, and never let them know what happened.

Jetmech0417
2002-Nov-03, 11:14 AM
but the point is, the way modern warfare is going, the future of combat is be invisible, strike first, and never let them know what happened.

Actually, the way modern warfare is going is to fire a weapon off well out of range of any of their weapons, and get outta dodge before they know what hit 'em. But, as everyone knows, the Classified News Network (CNN) will tell 'em what happened before the missile ever strikes home anyways.

Colt
2002-Nov-03, 11:13 PM
This might interest you all, http://www.trekbbs.com/ubb/Forum8/HTML/002941.html A lively debate about the weapons in Star Trek, ranging from starship tactics, planetary defenses, and ground troops. -Colt

daver
2002-Nov-06, 08:32 PM
> what about all the stealth technology thats being developed now <

It might be worthwhile seeing if there are any FAQs from the sci.space newsgroups--the topic has come up several times.

Anyway, radar can probably be eliminated as a tracking method. But there's not much that can be done about IR signature. And if you fire up an engine you may as well take out an ad in the paper.

darkhunter
2002-Nov-07, 11:10 AM
Stealth would work fine for a first strike to start the war--you'd have unmanned spacecraft performing some nominally useful function that just happen to be in the right place to diquise the lanch of stealth warheads using the normal positioning burns to mask the thermal signature of the weapon. Then it's just a matter of letting orbital mechanics move the warhead into an orbit near the targets. When everything is in place, send a signal to detonate at the closest approach. If they're kinitic-kill devices, they'll be to close for the thermal signature to do anyone any good.

Doodler
2002-Nov-07, 10:46 PM
Anybody catch the CNN article about the METHL laser system? Give'em time, there'll be a laser armed shuttle flying the minute they get it perfected. It may not be as big bad and powerful as the one they tested, but with lack of attenuation in space, it won't need to be.

Colt
2002-Nov-08, 04:45 AM
That or they will add some missile launch tubes to the shuttle, "We see you have made a few alterations to the Orbiter, what are they?" "That is the molecular disruptor, and this thing here is the torpedo launcher."

I heard at one time that the Russians had armed the Buran with a Gatling system in it's bay, or were going to. Probably just a rumor though. -Colt

Stuart
2002-Nov-14, 05:35 PM
On 2002-10-16 17:16, Doodler wrote:
I remember that system... Brilliant Pebbles.

Its still around but is morphed a bit since then. At the 2000 AUSA Exposition, Boeing was showing a potential modification of the EKV that included a Jello spray. Yup, Jello. the idea was to pump the liquefied jello out to form a cloud which would coat the optics and solar panels of the target satellite. The effect of flash evaporation and solar radiation would be to turn the deposits into an opaque gel that would destroy the optics and cripple the power generation capability of the solar cells. I don't know if thats been pushed any further. The idea was to avoid the debris problem by keeping the target as a unitary but useless lump.

Back in Nike-Zeus days, the idea was to wrap the nuclear device in the warhead with gold foil. That, combined with a couple of other tricks, produced a relatively low "explosion" but a horrendous sleet of radiation that would have fried the target warheads. Thats one reason the idea of a nuclear interceptor went out - the initiation of the warheads would have fried every satellite in LEO (the effective range of a Zeus warhead against an unshielded satellite was in the region of 1,000 kilometers).

I don't believe a "nuclear shaped charge" is possible. By the way (and just out of interest), the device that destroyed Hiroshima was a Mark 1 and the one that got Nagasaki was a Model 1561. The devices intiated by Pakistan a couple of years back were reportedly analogues of Mark 1 but there is some doubt if the Pakistani ones worked at all. They may have fizzled.

pweddell16120
2009-Oct-15, 06:34 PM
I think the majority of you are underestimating the lethality of even standard nuclear weapons in space. While it is correct to assume that the spherical geometry of the detonation will spread the effect and significantly decrease the damage from a detonation at standoffs greater than 100 meters(A 1 megaton weapon @ 100 meters produces an energy transfer of 3027 Joules/cm^2 assuming that I did my math right), this does not mean that they could not be a devastating weapon. On earth, all of the radioactive byproducts from the detonation come back down to earth. In space, they form a spherical region of certain death. This region remains highly dangerous to unshielded targets for periods lasting days to months. If it is an enhanced fallout weapon this time period can be extended even further. One thing I have heard mentioned in this thread is the nuclear shaped charge(will be abreviated NSC). I have heard that during the Orion nuclear pulse propultion project, they did develop NSC's. They consisted of a sub-megaton nuclear warhead (usually in the kiloton range) that was surrounded by a thick shell of U238. There was a hole in the U238 shell that opened into a conical director. the hole was covered by a tungsten plate and a low molecular weight solid was placed in the cone... The xrays produced by the blast escaped through the hole and caused the plate to deform and cause a jet to form. The maximum focus that they obtained was a 22.5 degree dispersal cone.

HenrikOlsen
2009-Oct-16, 12:29 PM
In space, they form a spherical region of certain death. This region remains highly dangerous to unshielded targets for periods lasting days to months.
They form a rapidly expanding, thus rapidly diluting spherical region of meh. We're talking space, there's nothing much to stop the expansion and there are likely no unshielded targets since cosmic radiation is already far more energetic than anything produced by radioactive decay of nuke waste products.

Using a nuke as the accelerator for a shaped charge penetrator does sound interesting, though also as overkill when you look at the penetrating power of the Fire Ant (http://www.sandia.gov/isrc/fireant.html)'s weapon. Note that without an atmosphere, this weapon has an effective rage determined only by it's ability to aim and hit and the only defense is to not be there or to hit it in flight with something with sufficient kinetic energy to deflect it.

publiusr
2009-Oct-16, 06:01 PM
According to the book on Orion, a blast can also be used to create certain isotopes. Can anyone think of off-world uses of nukes used in something other than weapons?

A tunnel through the moon comes to mind
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V1N-4603MVC-2&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=02dfa99e37a34a4d773a8ccd4e763061

And of course the woo-woo bent on things
http://www.dogpile.com/dogpile/ws/results/Web/nuclear%20tunnel%20through%20the%20moon/1/417/BottomNavigation/Relevance/iq=true/zoom=off/_iceUrlFlag=7?_IceUrl=true


http://www.larouchepac.com/node/11295
http://www.allanstime.com/UnifiedFieldTheory/N-Blast_Moon/index.html
http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&pagename=Zone-English-HealthScience%2FHSELayout&cid=1157962460976
http://nextbigfuture.com/2009/03/underground-nuclear-tests-salt.html

Solfe
2009-Oct-17, 03:19 AM
I was writing a story with a sort of anti-stealth rail gun. The story died, so here is the cool missile weapon I was using.

The ships had a plethora of missiles and a pair of Gauss guns. The missile was fired at an extremely high speed from the Gauss gun, but in a literal twist, the missile would fly out the gun backwards.

When missile got into defensive weapon range, it would fire the rocket to create blinding spray of exhaust to prevent lasers burning it. Not exactly the sort of thing an enemy can ignore. In cases where the missile was burned with a laser, a cloud of gas would wash over the target, making it harder to get the second, tenth, twenty missile.

The story died in a stalemate because this was best weapon the heroes had and enemy force could not outflank them. Maybe I will post up on my webpage some day.

publiusr
2009-Oct-19, 06:09 PM
Hard to beat the Casaba Howitzers.