1. demented-tiger
    Offline

    demented-tiger Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0

    Planetary defense force

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by demented-tiger, Apr 11, 2011.

    I have an interesting concept for a story, but that's really about it: no ideas for a plot or even characters.

    Some of you may be aware NASA possesses a small fleet of military aircraft including fighter jets (for astronaut training, aerospace research, and as "chase planes" to document flight tests) and a bomber (as a launch platform for rockets and experimental aircraft). My idea has these aircraft, still painted with NASA colors, serving as the backbone of a planetary defense force. Based out of Dryden Flight Research Center inside Edwards Air Force Base, California; NASA's defense force would consist of jet fighters, bombers, aerial tankers, radar planes, and transport planes; and would be painted with NASA colors and emblems so as to appear as research aircraft. A typical mission would involve a radar plane picking up an alien space ship on an approach to Earth, and the bombers launching modified Pegasus booster rockets (small rockets launched from aircraft that can reach space) that will home in on the intruders to destroy them with nuclear weapons. The fighters would fly escort to protect the bombers and radar planes from alien ships that manage to enter the atmosphere, and would provide defense for the research center. Various anti-aircraft missiles, private contractors, and Air Force security personnel would provide a last line of defense for ground installations from both aerial attack or a landing. For training, NASA units would use National Guard units equipped with the latest and most advanced fighter aircraft (for defense against alien ships that got past the NASA defenses) to simulate an attacking force.

    I suppose some possible plots would include explaining how such a force would come to be, and why it would be kept secret (which could open up some conflicts in a nation where everyone is about cutting spending for non-essential programs). Another possible idea would be constructing a scenario where these units would be used in combat, e.g. an alien attack. However, I have not developed these very much, nor do I have any characters to work with. I am not sure what the best way to proceed would be.
     
  2. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    Yea, you'll definately need to develop the story a bit more. Such a defense force would not be developed without a reason. There would need to be a potential threat of an alien attack.

    There can be multiple reasons for keeping such a thing secret. Wars are never popular among the common people. Wars mean loved ones will get sent off to fight. They can die and never return.

    The threat of an alien invasion would also spread fear among the populace. A single person can be reasonable after hearing of the threat. An entire populace can devolve into a crazy mob after hearing the same thing. The latter happened after the events of 9-11. American basically looked at all muslims as being evil.
     
  3. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Funny idea! I like it!

    You are asking how to proceed. I guess if I were writing the story, I would start by taking whoever is going to be one of your main characters, and initiating him into the programme. That way you can start writing, describe the basics of the "world" you are setting your story in, and you will probably get more ideas for a plot as you go along.

    Alternatively, you can try to plan a bit more, but I would just start writing. Sounds like you have enough for a beginning.
     
  4. KillianRussell
    Offline

    KillianRussell Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2011
    Messages:
    619
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Glasshouse
    In all my planetary defense novels I insert an element of homesickness in the form of dreams about cheesesteaks, peanut butter or fried armadilllo...hope this helps
     
  5. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    A story concept means nothing. I can tell you now, it has all been done before. What matters is how you write it, the characterization, the flow, the imagery, all of it.

    There's no benefit in asking what other people think of the concept! They'll either say,"Sounds great," or, "it sounds like a ripoff of..."

    If the idea stirs you, write it. Then ask people what they think of the final story. After they tell you what they don't like about it, revise it, usually several times, until you're happy with it or until you throw up your hands and say the hell with it.

    Please read What is Plot Creation and Development?

    Keep in mind that a storyline doesn't have to be complicated to keep the reader interested. It just has to be well written.
     
  6. NateSean
    Offline

    NateSean Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2011
    Messages:
    254
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Salem, Mass
    Also, just throwing this out there, but NASA is a civilian operation. Although many astronauts within the program have military background, including but not limited to Air Force, the program itself is not a military operation.

    For that matter, it's a violation of several treaties to bring weapons into space, so if the US government is going to start building space defenses, then it better have a good reason for doing so should any of the other four seats on the UN Security Council catch wind of it.
     
  7. Porcupine
    Offline

    Porcupine Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    346
    Likes Received:
    21
    Location:
    Frankfurt, Germany
    Good points. They might be "in" on the secret too. You can certainly bet that the Russians would very quickly create similar capabilities.
     
  8. Louis Farizee
    Offline

    Louis Farizee Member

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    New Jersey
    An important part of the story background would be figuring out where the funding for all this equipment comes from, and how exactly that amount of money could be hidden. A Eurofighter Typhoon, for example, is 90 million Euro a copy. An F-15SE Silent Eagle is $100 million. An F-16/C is $18.8 million. And these are all fourth generation jet fighters. A fifth generation (the latest and greatest, which you'll want if you're facing aliens advanced enough to mount an expedition to a different solar system with enough bullets and beans to invade) is even more expensive. An F-35A Lightening II goes for $122 million, new, off the lot, and the dealer doesn't even through in floor mats or a CD player.

    The US Air Force's budget is roughly $170 billion a year, where NASA's budget is something like $17 billion.

    Where are you getting this money, and how is it being hidden?

    Further- why would someone go through the trouble and expense of creating yet another air-power arm when the US already has a big bunch of planes being flown by experienced Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, and Guard/Reserve pilots? Not to mention the infrastructure to maintain and support them.

    No. If someone asked me to secretly create some sort of planetary defense force for those aliens with guns we're covering up, I'd probably figure out some kind of a way to second US military pilots and aircraft to... say, NATO, or the UN, or Homeland Security, or something. Say we write up a secret Presidential Finding that, in the event of extraterrestrial threat, US military and federal civilian forces come under the command of Homeland Security, who has the authority to coordinate defensive and offensive planetary operations with other agencies and nations. Save yourself, like, 50 pages of exposition that way.
     
  9. Fang990
    Offline

    Fang990 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2011
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    right here
    One way to do it is make it a Paramilitary program, privately funded, and supported by the UN or NATO. I agree with just diving into writting something. Maybe have the main character be a pilot from one of the country's supporting the program, and he gets invited to join..ect..ect you get where to go from there. With it being a part of the private market..there are a lot of restrictions but you don't nessicarily have to folow them....especially if you're facing a threat that is threatening the whole planet. You gould have the air/space branch and then the ground branch of the company. Each branch would have it's own HQ, with the ground branch probably acting as the corperate HQ as well.

    Just some thoughts.
     
  10. demented-tiger
    Offline

    demented-tiger Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    Okay, here's the idea I have so far: a new senator who won thier seat on the back of a very influential, very vocal political movement has examined the finances of NASA, and noted while they keep asking for budget increases and cancel projects like manned spaceships and space colonies; they receive enough money in thier current budget to build and maintain an entire fleet of spaceships. Most of the money is spent on a project called the Mohave Project (the planetary defense force), of which little is known, and seems even less relevant to NASA's mission statement. In the quest to cut government spending, the senator targets this program for elimination as an example of the kind of things that are eating tax payer dollars. The movement who got the senator into power supports this decision, and other senators and representatives hoping to ride the movement themselves for the next election join in. NASA and the members of the Mohave Project must convince the senator and his movement thier work is important.

    I guess I need help on deciding what characters to include in the story. The senator may be in the story, though I might also cast him/her as a background character. I also need help deciding what factor should prove to the senator the planetary defense force is necessary. Should I go with an all out alien invasion? Should I have the old stand-by of a captured alien space ship from Roswell or some other UFO crash site? Is there something else I could do?
     
  11. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    Some years ago there was a British tv series called UFO. You might want to check it out, and the miniskirts and purple hair do's!

    Cheers.
     
  12. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    Ahahahah UFO! That was a great show!

    I like the idea, but the problem is that building a space defense force will require an international co-operation between the most developed countries, US, UK, Russia, China, probably India, all countries with different interest. This operation should naturally be under UN control, but we know that the above nations always opposed the creation of any UN forces, and I think they'll do until a strong menace would force them to accept this change.
     
  13. astrostu
    Offline

    astrostu Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Gotta ask - why NASA? Doesn't make any sense to me to have a civilian space agency have this. DOD, NSA, CIA ... any of those make loads more sense. Yes, NASA "does" space. But most people don't realize how much the DOD "does" space, too. And THEIR budget is SO much more massive than NASA's, SO much easier to hide stuff, esp. because I was just reading a story a few weeks ago on how they haven't been audited in decades because they claim they spend too much money per day (over $1 bn) and so can't be audited. Sure seems like a much better place to hide this when their budget is on the order of 1000x more than NASA's.
     
  14. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hmm!

    I also thought, who's defending New Zealand's skies? I mean NASA doesn't come down our way, neither does the DOD. Yet aliens in flying saucers are an international threat, so your story has some plot holes. If you use anything other then an international coalition agency of some sort, then part of the world like my lovely land of the long white cloud are undefended, and therefore by the odds have already been attacked / invaded / destroyed. So how does the rest of the world not know about this?

    You either need to use the UN as your agency, or some other international super secret yet to be named agency, or explain that two thirds of the world has fallen to the alien menace and somehow no one's noticed.

    (Mind you our PM is so boring he's almost certainly an alien in disguise!)

    Cheers.
     
  15. demented-tiger
    Offline

    demented-tiger Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    So far, no one has addressed my primary dilema regarding what to do for a plot:

    First of all: I might mention other countries' contributions to a planetary defense force in passing, but they are irrelevant to the scope of my story.

    Second: I chose NASA for two reasons: first of all, everyone - readers and characters in stories - expects top secret military/paramilitary forces to be thier own separate entity, controlled by a section of the regular military, or part of another agency that practices secrecy; not a civilian agency supposedly only engaged in research and exploration. Secondly, take a look at these pictures of a NASA bomber and a NASA fighter, and tell me you would not like to see them fulfilling thier combat roles.
    NASA fighter: [​IMG]

    NASA bomber: [​IMG]
    In case you didn't notice, these are real photographs of real aircraft, with a real NASA paint job.

    Finally: the primary goal of this defense force is to destroy alien ships in orbit, where they're most vulnerable to hull damage, decompression, and where they're totally dependent on thruster fire overcoming inertia to maneuver. NASA would attempt to shoot down the alien vessels as they passed over North American and North Pacific airspace using advanced air-to-space missiles launched from aircraft. This idea is based off real-world technology of the 1980s where the US Air Force developed a missile capable of shooting down satellites after being launched from a fighter jet (I might add airborne lasers and electronic warfare aircraft to NASA's arsenal to deal with the aliens' early warning systems). NASA's own jet fighters would only engage the enemy if they entered the atmosphere and attacked either the launch aircraft, the support aircraft, or the ground base (or some other NASA facility like the Johnson and Kennedy Space Centers or Wallops Island, Virginia). If the aliens attacked another ground target, say Phoenix, Arizona or New York City; it would be the responsibility of the state's Air National Guard, equipped with ultra modern fighters like the F-22, and any regular Air Force units based in the state to deal with them. Same with other countries, like New Zealand: thier own air defense networks of fighter jets and missiles for fighting terrestrial enemies would have to deal with any alien ships who evaded NASA's (or another agency's) missiles and reached an altitudes where thier maneuvering buses were useless and/or there was a danger of fallout or radiation affecting people on the ground.

    I hope this addresses some of your criticisms, and gets this thread back on track.
     
  16. astrostu
    Offline

    astrostu Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Sorry, I'm speaking as an astrophysicist who gets funding from NASA and has spent most free time in the past four years trying to increase public awareness of how science does and does not work and what NASA actually does. From my understanding, it's simply much more plausible for this to be DOD for the US than NASA.

    I'll re-iterate: DOD budget is something like 50-100x NASA's, they have a lot of experience with at least launching stuff into space, they're the ones who deal with missiles, and I think it's more plausible to a reader that they can hide a project like this much more easily than NASA.

    Changing "NASA" to "DOD" I don't think will at all subtract from the story you propose. There's just as much waste - if not more in my own opinion - at the DOD than at NASA, and plenty of programs that people can choose as their pets to try to gut (think of the recent issues with the extra engine that the air force DOESN'T want but the two senators from that state keep forcing them to pay for).

    Keeping it as NASA will cause people to roll their eyes, just as they do when people blame the Mint for printing too many dollar bills (hint: the Mint only makes coins, it's the BEP (Bureau of Engraving and Printing) which is completely separate that prints currency).
     
  17. Islander
    Offline

    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,542
    Likes Received:
    59
    Location:
    Sweden
    Or why not fake a terrorist threat and watch the billions being thrown at you? ;)
     
  18. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    Do you realise that these are test planes and they're unarmed and used to get aerodynamics data? Once upon a time NASA was called NACA and their goal was to make R&D, like the TsAGI in Soviet Union,and the small number of prototypes the NASA keeps airworthy won't be enough to to defend the US air space from an alien invasion, not to talk about the entire world.

    If you want to make realistic you should go for something like the SAC or the IAP- PVO in cold war, I suspect that they were the organisation that experimented at a certain level space warfare, although it was officially illegal.
     
  19. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,375
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi Stranger,

    Did I miss the memo? What airforce? We scragged our aging 1958 vintage skyhawks some years ago and actually have no combat aircraft at all. So the idea that they're out there, somewhere above us, beating back UFO's seems a little strange. Oddly enough, many other countries have no airforces either. So since we can't defend ourselves from the deadly skies, we need to rely on someone else to do it for us, or else we will be beaten up, bombed, or invaded.

    It may not directly impact on your plot as you say, but it does rather leave the reader with some serious questions if NASA is busy only defending American skies.

    Also, though its rather a side issue, NASA is a civilian agency, and a source of pride not just for America but the entire world. Landing astronauts on the moon was a gigantic achievement, and we all celebrated. Turning NASA from a civilian champion of space travel etc, into a secret para-military war machine takes some of the gloss off its good name for me.

    Cheers.
     
  20. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    1)You have the australians and the RAF in the case of alien invasion. Queen Lizzie won't allow NZ to become a land of conquest for little green men!

    2)The NASA doesn't defend the american air space, the USAF do it.

    3)I'm pretty sure that NASA was involved in some "skunk works" in the past and it doesn't detract anything for me.
     
  21. demented-tiger
    Offline

    demented-tiger Member

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2010
    Messages:
    22
    Likes Received:
    0
    forget it then. I'll just scrap the whole idea since all I'm getting from you are things telling me how unrealistic and implausible the whole concept is.
     
  22. astrostu
    Offline

    astrostu Member

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2011
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    2
    Your choice of course, but I think we're just trying to help give you a more accurate framework. I don't think anyones' comments said your basic IDEA was bad/wrong/misguided, just some of the details.
     
  23. StrangerWithNoName
    Offline

    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2009
    Messages:
    352
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    the waste lands, somewhere in Europe
    It's not implausible if you replace NASA with USAF, RAF, NATO, ex soviet air forces, IAF, PAF etc... who made an agreement under the table.
     

Share This Page