Prev: Re: Paint Schemes for Full Thrust Next: Re: Real Space Combat Help:

Re: Real Space Combat Help:

From: rpaul@w... (Robin Paul)
Date: Wed, 9 Apr 1997 07:16:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Real Space Combat Help:

>Hello Everyone:
>	I'm writing a sci-fi space combat story for my creative writing
>So far I've got most of the story fleshed out.  However, I want to be
>plausable and scientific as possible. (The only place where I want to
>technically vauge is hyperdrive.)  I have some general questions for
>of you armchair physicists out there in GZG Mailing List land.
>I'd love to hear your responses.
>Mark S.

Mark, a long out-of-print source that makes interesting reading is "War
2080" by David Langford.  This is a book of comment, speculation,
explanation etc. on the future of military technology.	Generally, I'd
the answers to your questions depend very much on the overall tech level
you've chosen.	I assume that as you want to be plausible with respect
current science, the tech is not _too_ far advanced compared with our
more B5 than Star Trek, as it were.

>	1.  Which would be better suited for space combat: lasers or
>beam weapons?
I suppose it depends to an extent on fighting range and maneuvreability-
Laser will arrive first (and tend to spread less?  I'm a biologist, Jim,
a phaser technician!  (A caveat for all my answers)).  If the target is
to move unpredictably/evasively during the travel time of the shot,
might tend to outrange particle beams.	Presumably the PBs would use
neutral(ized) particles, to avoid the effects of magnetic fields etc.

>	2.  How does a directed energy beam weapon damage a target?
By heating it, mainly, I think.  BTW, don't be fooled by that old SDI
demo film where the laser shoots at a missile fuel tank which
They put a big weight on top and pressurised the tank, and the laser
puntured it like a balloon, allowing the weight to crush the tank.

>	3.  Which sort of missile warhead would be better suited for
>combat?  Nuke or kinetic kill?
How close are your missiles going to get?  Relative speeds may be too
for reliable close explosions, so your nuke will do damage by EMP and
radiation rather than blast.  I can see a case for a kinetic missile
consisting of a sheaf of hard dense bolts, with a motor and guidance at
back, boosting hard to the predicted vicinity of the target (and dumping
booster so that it coasts cold for minimum detectability), then doing
another boost to intercept the target, with the sheaf separating (not
"exploding") to produce a pattern of separation of e.g. 
(target diameter/4) between bolts.

>	4.  I've heard that it would be a good idea to depressurize a
>before going into combat (the crew would be in space suits).  Why would
>that help?
Avoiding explosive decompression.  I think it would probably be better
_lower_ the pressure a bit, harden the ship's equipment against vacuum,
have the DC teams in space-suits, the rest in a compromise that would
them work more effectively (like the difference between anti-flash gear
serious fire-fighting gear at present).  A high level of
compartmentalization would minimize the effect of any hull breach.
Alternatively, I can see that high accellerations would mean that
going anywhere while the ship's in combat (a la "Mote in God's Eye"),
everyone could be in individual space-tight accn. couches/combat
stations/lifepods scattered through an otherwise depressurized ship.

>	5.  How would one target a enemy ship in space (realistically
that is)?
Apart from the obvious radar, lidar, etc. I can imagine silent running
preceded, surrounded and followed by swarms of recce drones, one of the
purposes of which would be to tempt/force enemy ships into disclosing
positions.  I can imagine ships with multiwavelength long baseline
rangefinders using powerful telescopes on masts or superstructures, and
triangulation from drone data.

>	6.  There would happen to be a "Theoretical Space Combat FAQ"
>on the net?  If there isn't there should be.


(that was fun!)
Rob Paul

"Rob Paul
NERC Institute of Virology 
Mansfield Road, Oxford OX1 3SR	  Tel. (01865) 512361
  "Once again, villainy is rotting meat before the maggots of justice!"

Prev: Re: Paint Schemes for Full Thrust Next: Re: Real Space Combat Help: