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Subject: Combat in space
TankboiKelarius    12/14/2003 6:50:25 PM
Just curious as to your thoughts on space combat. Whether it will happen, what shape it will take, ect...
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malek01    RE:Combat in space   12/17/2003 8:31:52 PM
I expect in the near future a lot of small scale 'nudging' - drone satellites pushing each other out of orbit or fritzing spy satellites with EMP weapons. It would be very hard to stop, trace, or do anything about. The next stage would probably be 'improvised' combat and Anti Satellite missiles. Possibly things like the shuttle being mounted with experimental weapons (in extreme cases) or more likely more advanced drones. Space combat largely depends on 'deployment' technology. Until we have reliable space planes or linear launchers or any kind of cheap RLV, space combat is going to be dominated by America. Once we have RLV's, there's an interesting twist to the deal in that Corporate interests would have significant power. Consider the importance of air superiority - imagine Orbital Superiority! Past that point - combat gets REAL wierd. Imagine a cross between dogfighting and submarine warfare. I believe that is what the tactical flavour of Deep Space combat will be like, with a lot of automated ships and computer controlled firing. I do not see 'space fighters' ever really taking off in the far future, only maybe in the near, and not for long. Did you know Russia had an experimental space fighter in the 80's? I have long been developing wargaming rules and computer game concepts for simulating such combat...if you're interested in discussing it further, email me :) malek01(at)
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malek01    RE:Combat in space   12/17/2003 8:35:34 PM
argh! Dammit - malek01(at)
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Prometheus Bound    RE:Combat in space   12/22/2003 1:51:50 AM
There is also the possibility that the warfare would take place not to win control of space, but rather to deny it to others. For a nation that has launch capabilities, but nothing near our own, they simply need to launch an intentional 'space junk satellite' that consists of multiple small particles. The end result would be a sphere of junk in space (not unlike the rings of Saturn, only worse) that would destroy anything at the given altitude and prevent the launching of anything new.
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xinjiang    RE:Combat in space   12/22/2003 8:19:30 AM
But you could counter that with heavily shielded launch vehicles or by having multiple launches from various locations (what a great use for SSBNs) simultaneously.
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JROTCKid    RE:Combat in space   12/22/2003 11:12:21 AM
Remember their is no sound in space because there is no air to provide a medium for it to travel through so Acoustic weapons may have no use. I do see the day when we buidl ships in space because thier is less gravity and it is easier to build a massive ship hence you dont have to use resources to get the whole thing thier just pieces .Has anyone seen Space Above and beyone that used to run on Fox cable or the new Battlestar galactica which I think has the same animators . Thier depictions of space fighters manuvering is VERY realistic. Ex. In space you can do a loop in zero travel distance all you have to do is counteract your motion into another direction
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TankboiKelarius    RE:Combat in space   12/22/2003 9:14:50 PM
I see manned space combat only occuring after we have nationalized space colonies, like if the US and China were to build colonies on the moon. Up until that time, there really isnt much of a point as pretty much all satelites can be destroyed by gorund based weapons as we as anything in Earth orbit. Once you do have combat in space between opposing ships, I see it as happening almost exclusivly around stationary targets, such as a colony or a space station, as these things are easy to intercept and cant always simply get out of the way. Intercepting a ship in space is notoriusly hard, and will probably be near impossible in space, mostly because of speed concerns as well as a lag time in detection mediums at long ranges. So i think that combat will take on a form similar to WW2 naval warfare, with combat taking place mostly around high-value stationary targets between attacking and defending forces, with ships intercepting rarely if ever at all. Now, do any of you think fighters will be used in space or do you think that computers and weapons in a 0g o atmosphere environment will be too much for lightly armored craft?
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Prometheus Bound    RE:Combat in space   12/26/2003 9:11:19 AM
Xinjiang, countering a sphere of space junk would be very difficult. Maybe I didn’t make my post clear enough, so let me take another stab at it. There is a growing fear that as the amount of space junk grows, it will reach a ‘breakover’ point where the number of collisions between pieces of space junk results in an ever increasing (but smaller in size) number of these pieces. It would also have the effect of changing the direction of travel for these pieces, making the probability of collision even greater. Current thinking is that if this happens, it will effectively deny space to us until those particles fall to earth (at least 50 or 100 years). If this situation were aggravated by the intentional release of a large quantity of space junk, a sufficient volume of junk could be created so that it would be impossible to launch through it without being hit by potentially hundreds of pieces of junk. Look at how we deal with space junk now. The big pieces that we can see, we maneuver around. We hope that the little pieces that we can see don’t do that much damage. Significant damage has been done to the Space Shuttles windows from a small fleck of paint (it’s the velocity that kills). If the scenario works as some suspect it might, the end result is that tracking space junk becomes harder and harder due to size (as the junk breaks into smaller pieces with each successive collision). The junk also becomes more uniformly distributed so that maneuvering around it is no longer an option. Each launch is going to be exposed to a number of collisions that hasn’t even remotely been considered in the design of today launch vehicles. The amount of shielding that you would need to protect against a thousand (just a number I picked) hits can easily become so heavy as to be prohibitive. Now consider that we try anyway. If the launch fails due to this new sphere of space junk, all we’ve done is make the problem worse. The failed rocket and payload now become a new source of space junk as more and more collisions will break off pieces of the new object. I’ve seen estimates of about 2000 tons of space junk – Most of this in huge chunks (spent rockets and dead satellites). That is why we don’t see the problem now and why it appears that we could overcome the problem. Now, the payload of a Delta III is about four tons (to geosynchronous orbit). If your intention is to make space junk, you don’t go to geosynchronous, you go a couple hundred miles. You also can include the weight of the launch vehicle, since this can also be effectively used to create space junk. It wouldn’t take more than a couple to create the amount of junk needed to pull this off.
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xinjiang    RE:Combat in space   12/26/2003 10:05:59 PM
Perhaps recycling could be the first great industry in orbit? But seriously, only an international effort would be able to "sweep" all of the existing junk out of it's current orbit.
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Darth Vader    RE:Combat in space   5/21/2004 3:25:58 PM
Combat in space is going to happen one day, but whether it happens in the next fifty years is something else. War is pretty much atmosphere-bound, and any targets that a country has up in space can be killed from the ground. For true space combat to occur, you have to get beyond the reach of ground-based weaponry, and even when a war breaks out, chances are astronauts from opposing countries would be more like WWI pilots when they waved to each other rather than have air battles. War in space, with dedicated vehicles to fight there, probably won't happen for a few more centuries at least. It's just too expensive, too hard to get enough armour into orbit to give any protection from weapons, and too time comsuming.
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Tracer_Tong    RE:Combat in space   6/14/2004 12:24:07 PM
It will happen, not a question of if, but when. I have theorized a conflict between humans on Earth and humans living on the Moon or a conflict OVER the moon, but not the entire bodies as unified factions. More like, say a US conflict against another space-faring power over territory on the moon, for example China and the US which both want to go to the moon by 2020. I do not think it will happen for awhile, but in the opening days of WWI, no one thought there would ever be air battles either.
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