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Re: OFFICIAL - GZG: Vacuum and zero/low gravity combat…?

From: Robert N Bryett <rbryett@g...>
Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2016 14:14:18 +1100
Subject: Re: OFFICIAL - GZG: Vacuum and zero/low gravity combat…?

I’m going to concentrate on the idea of combat on the Moon rather than
free fall in these comments.

> On 3 Feb 2016, at 07:31, martin connell <>
> Hmmm, would something like this become too difficult to handle?
Assuming a vacuum and low gravity/no gravity, wouldn't the fragments
travel for a very, very long time essentially sending some portion of
the frag back at the firing squad?

Grenades are potentially dangerous to the throwers already, and it is
common for the thrower to take cover after the throw. The radius within
which shrapnel would be dangerous might be greater in lower gravity and
no atmosphere, but so would throwing range. Given the difficulty of
throwing accurately over longer distances, some sort of “shootable”
grenade might be a good idea. I think Jon posted something about
imagining his moon-troopers’ personal weapon being a combined
laser-rifle and grenade launcher. Given that any effective laser-rifle
would have to have a range-finding function in order to focus the beam
optimally, a “smart grenade” designed to explode over the intended
target, in a manner similar to the airburst rounds fired by the
experimental XM25 (, would seem

Random thought: should a laser shoulder-arm be called a “rifle”,
since it would not have a rifled barrel, or indeed a barrel at all?
Carbine might be better. There’s lots of interesting stuff about
personal laser weapons on the Atomic Rockets web site
including a discussion of why pulsed lasers would not make nice neat
holes in anyone unfortunate enough to be hit by one, and the intriguing
idea of using the optical system of the laser as a “reflex”
telescopic sight and range-finder.

Since the maximum power a laser could “shoot” without melting its
own internal parts would probably be determined by its aperture (rather
like a telescope), we could use the aperture in, say, millimetres as the
equivalent of calibre in firearms. “Battle-rifles” might be 30-40mm,
while concealed-carry weapons might only be 20mm.

Everyone anywhere around laser weapons would have to wear
eye-protection, whether a space-suit visor, goggles, Adam Jensen shades
or whatever. Laser “ricochets” off reflective surfaces could easily
blind anyone looking in the wrong direction.

A factor not generally addressed in SF use of firearms is noise and
muzzle-flash. Obviously this would not be a factor where there is no
atmosphere, but firing guns inside a cramped pressurised habitat would
seriously damage people’s hearing. Muzzle-flash would be a fire-risk,
although fire in space would be so dangerous that I imagine every effort
would be put into non-flammable clothes, furnishings, padding etc.
Shotguns would be a particular problem for both noise and flash.
Suppressed weapons firing the sort of frangible rounds issued to
air-marshals might be the way to go, though armour or even “hard”
spacesuits might be a challenge.

> On 2 Feb 2016, at 21:24, Roger Bell_West <> wrote:
> EMPs are generated when gamma rays hit _atmosphere_ and strip
electrons off atoms there; you need a magnetic field too.

This is true, but a nuclear detonation is not the only way to generate
an EMP. Non-nuclear EMP weapons have already been deployed, and while
they might be less powerful than the nuclear sort, there might be some
attraction in knocking out your enemy’s electronics without frying
those of your own troops. Of course both sides would take steps to
harden their electronics.

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