1. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Weapons in Space

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by matwoolf, Oct 21, 2014.

    I wrote a story where an everyman is loaded upon a 'primitive' nuke and fired into space to guide the joystick towards the enemy. However, nuclear weapons don't work in space so that was a stupid idea. Actually, maybe you could nuke Mars? If I switch the enemy base from the Moon to Mars, that works, eh, does it?

    I have researched 'weapons in space' and found rail guns but can't get my head around the mechanics to visualise. My story's many essential flaws aside, what weapon - given about 100 years of scientific development from the present, can my hero utilise to destroy a planetary base? Soft, nothing too hard physics Phd for me please. Maybe he just unplugs the O2 filter shield...

    Also, what would liquid methane look like? Different story - Speedboat on Titan. What happens if you swim in methane?
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You would instantly freeze if you swam in liquid methane.
     
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  3. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    A nuke would still have an effect in vacuum, but the mechanical damaged caused by the shockwave, I would intuit, would be absent outside the core blast radius without an appreciable atmosphere to carry the wave. On Mars there is an atmosphere, but only very thin compared to Earth so the shockwave would be present but diminished. The EMP it would produce would still be present, and the residual radioactive material would still be a player.
     
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  4. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can think of no reason why a nuclear weapon would not work in space. If you wanted to attack a base on Mars, a nuclear weapon would be effective.

    I think a rail-gun is basically an electric gun. It fires a projectile like any other gun, only the power source is different.

    Liquid methane has a density of 422.36 kg/m3 Compared to 1000 kg/m3 for water, so the boat would have to displace just over twice as much of it in order to float. If you fell in, you would have great trouble floating, not to mention it would be below it's boiling point of -161.48 °C

    You could always just invent a weapon, give it a name like 'matter disrupter' and not explain anything about how it works. No one's ever explained how the transporter in Star-Trek works but people don't lose the plot every time it's featured in an episode.
     
  5. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Aled, Wreybies, GingerCoffee,

    It's this vacuum problem with space - no explosion only radioactive dust. There are articles and old NASA papers on the web that explore the theme on every level, even mine. I'm gluing two old short stories together and should give up on it really. You see my man is maybe duped to fly the 'antique' X37-B or Saturn 5 or similar but when he arrives he has to do something nasty.

    That's a good suggestion Aled but I'm trying to go as absolutely low-tech as possible. My society is based upon the technology of 'gears' [oh no giving it all away] if that is any help. I'm not a sci-fi guy really, embarrassing myself :)

    Yes - there has been a technological breakthrough with 'gears' - think Shimano.

    So no sub-aqua in methane?
     
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  6. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sub-aqua in methane should just be possible but divers would need buoyancy items rather than weights and a lot of insulation. They would have to double their volume (or thereabouts).

    Don't forget the orbits. Mars is not a constant distance away.
     
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  7. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    Huge thermonuclear bombs produce so much heat in the form of radiation that it instantly burns everything in a several miles distance. The biggest H bomb ever tested was the soviet Tsar-bomb (50 megatons) which was unbelievably powerful : "The heat from the explosion could have caused third-degree burns 100 km (62 mi) away" - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsar_Bomba

    So yes, these bombs can be used in space, just a bit differently.

    A planetary base can be destroyed by a kinetic weapon: a large metallic object with enermous speed impacting the base and leaving a large crater in it's place.
     
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  8. qp83
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    qp83 Member

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    I guess you could steer comets towards the bases? Either by having tiny rockets attach themself and steer it, or by flying something heavy infront of it adjusting it's orbit by gravity.

    Of course this would be rather slow attacks :/
     
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  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    @qp83...that's very good, thank you. An extra chapter though. Suppose I better turn this tedious short into my debut novella.

    @Vandor76

    'A planetary base can be destroyed by a kinetic weapon: a large metallic object with enermous speed impacting the base and leaving a large crater in it's place.'

    Beautifully precise. Conveyed the point entirely. However @Aled James Taylor remains as chief engineer.
     
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  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    The RAF used "Tallboy" (6 tons) and "Grand Slam" (10 tons) bombs late in WWII...these (TNT) bombs worked by using the considerable inertia of their mass and speed (dropped from a fair height) to plough deep underground, and only detonating once underground, causing what was effectively a localised earthquake. A nuclear warhead deployed in a similar manner could be quite unpleasant, especially if propelled towards the ground at considerable speed - which might be necessary, given the lower gravity of Mars.
     
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  11. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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  12. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    I'll just add my voice to those who have recommended kinetic bombardment already. Simply drop a suitably sized and heavy object from orbit and you'll wreak havoc on ground based targets. As for space weapons... well lasers are actually quite effective in space so would probably be used to cut hulls and that. Missiles are another likely option for space combat but would quite possibly not have explosive warheads and instead either be designed to simply smash through the target or deliver and EMP or radioactive payload. Radiation would be a very effective weapon once it gets through the shielding most space faring vessels would have.
     
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  13. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think a really strong slingshot would work to destroy most satellites orbiting in space, primarily if it is aimed against the direction of the object. Cheap and simple rail gun in a way. Maybe even something like an air rifle which could be aimed more accurately. For ground based targets the large object smashing idea would work if you could direct it to the target.
     
  14. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Kinetic bombardment has its problems. Transporting heavy objects all the way to Mars would be very expensive at least. A nuclear weapon would be about 1% of the weight. A kinetic weapon would need at least a near direct hit on the target to be effective so aiming the weapon would be very difficult. A guidance system would be essential and changing it's trajectory would be difficult since it would have a great deal of momentum. Any weapon used over such a great distance (orbit to ground or ground to orbit) would have to be guided to stand any chance of hitting its target.

    Lasers have been around for many years and no one has yet made and effective weapon using one. They do work in space and over great distances but require many times more energy to create than they deliver. They also have less effect on reflective surfaces. Having a chrome plated spacecraft would be a good defense against attack with lasers.

    Exposing people to radiation may not have an immediate effect (they would have a higher chance of contracting cancer subsequently). Radiation shielding is normally made from lead. The thicker the lead, the more it shields. Lead is not a substance you would want to include in a space-craft in any significant quantity because of its very high mass.
     
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  15. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding of orbital sling shots and travel in a vacuum is very poor...this'll get me off my backside to actually learn how we intend to get to Mars, or how Voyager generates momentum or how the Europeans shall land on that...what is it? Sorry, such simple stuff for many people.

    Also, my first encounter with kinetics since '86...really enjoyed the idea of bombers over Mars. :)

    What I wrote was a scenario where the group with the advanced technological know-how escape to the Moon and are in conflict with the 'savages' left behind on planet Earth. The Moon scientists control the planet's access to sunlight. It's easy enough to write:

    'in space the magnetic pulleys redeployed the Earth shroud,'

    as Aled says, like 'Star Trek science.'

    What I really failed in crafting was a 'primitive' missile made out of V2/Apollo leftovers to whack the bad guys on the Moon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2014
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  16. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can build a shroud to cover the Earth and are worried about launching an old missile at the moon? Those are some mean ass technos you've got there. I would plant an insurgency group on the moon and let them turn the tables. If the moon based people are that advanced and the Earth bound people are that inept any missile launch would be easily intercepted. Send up some incurable disease with a fast transmission rate before symptoms are noticeable.
     
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  17. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    You could have a group of elite scientists, executives, etc, living on the moon, who claim they're Earth's heroes, controlling satellites that alter the Earth's magnetic field to protect the Earth from harmful solar radiation that would accelerate global-warming.

    People on earth claim this lunar colony is nothing but can-men who take lots of money and live like kings, while poor people on Earth suffer, the satellites don't do anything anyway and there's no such thing as global worming, it's all a scam.

    Then there are religious extremists who actively desire the 'end times' (destruction of the earth) and perceive the scientists as devil worshiping atheists who oppose nature and God's will for mankind.

    If the military wanted to take over the world, they'd have to get rid of the lunar base first, blaming it's destruction on an accident caused by incompetent scientists who can't be trusted.

    The MC in the story, knows that a good deal of this is lies, but has to work out which parts are true.
     
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  18. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOVE this!!! Especially the bit where the giant worms come and get them!
     
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  19. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dyslexia strikes again! How about a story where there's a dyslexia epidemic. The possibility for comedy is immense. One day I'm going to have to learn to speal.

    I don't think a rocket would be a problem. A lunar base would require regular supplies, so there'd be a production line of Saturn V rockets and frequent launches. The MC could be a astronaut on a regular supply mission.
     
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  20. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    It must be easy for you to come up with new names for your characters, places, etc :)
     
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  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Here I was, trawling the forum, alert to the possibilities of improving my skin tone and other impossible renovations promised by scam ...er, spam ...and I ran across this gem of a thread. Good morning! More coffee.
     
  22. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    An intense letter-writing campaign.
     
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