Customer Discussions > Science Fiction forum

The Real Upcoming Space Wars?


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 826-850 of 1000 posts in this discussion
In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2012 2:18:28 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "U.S. DOWNS TEST MISSILE WITH NEW INTERCEPTOR"

Thanks for the interesting article. It would have been nice to know such things as the in-coming missile's velocity, its angle of reentry, the velocity and acceleration of the interceptor missile, and the height at which the interception occurred. But I suppose that information is classified.

That kind of thing is harder than you might think. For an excellent description of a missile intercept, read the last part of Tom Clancy's novel "The Bear and the Dragon." I suppose that a person who is well-versed in missile-interception technology might find fault with it, but I thought it was pretty good.

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 9:07:26 AM PDT
Pleiades2 says:
The Military Industrial Complex my dear. They rule here, they'll rule in Space.
A force of Lensmen is the only force that has a chance to st.. er, control them. Where's Kinnison?

Posted on May 30, 2012 12:06:39 PM PDT
Hi Walter!

Here's the most detailed account I could find about Raytheon's new missile. As an engineer, you should understand it better than most.

http://www.raytheon.com/newsroom/technology/rtn12_sm3_ftm16/
RAYTHEON'S STANDARD MISSILE-3 FLIGHT TEST A SUCCESS

In reply to an earlier post on May 30, 2012 2:47:47 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 30, 2012 2:50:55 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "RAYTHEON'S STANDARD MISSILE-3 FLIGHT TEST A SUCCESS"

Thanks for the article; it was interesting. However, there is nothing in the article that is particularly "technical."

RE: "Essentially a rocket motor with ten nozzles, the TDACS provides the precision propulsion necessary to intercept incoming ballistic missiles with pinpoint accuracy."

I do wonder, however, why they didn't use the single swiveling nozzle design of the V-2 for guidance. Oh well, maybe they could not have have gotten the rocket nozzle to to swing fast and precisely enough. I'm well aware that I'm speculating in a vacuum. After all, I am NOT there at Raytheon, crunchin' the numbers.

RE: "The kinetic energy of the collision is the equivalent of a 10-ton truck traveling at 600 miles per hour."

I used the above numbers to figure out the kinetic kill energy. I would've prefered to have used the weapon's mass and velocity at impact, but maybe that information is classified. Anyway, here's what I got:

KINETIC KILL ENERGY
Reference: http://www.raytheon.com/newsroom/technology/rtn12_sm3_ftm16/

10 tons = 20,000 lb = 9,091 kg
600 mph = 880 ft/sec = 268 m/s

Kinetic Energy
Ek = 0.5mv^2

Ek = 327,018,701 joules
Ek = 327,019 kilojoules
Ek = 327 megajoules
Ek = 78 kilograms of TNT equivalent

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinitrotoluene

Posted on May 31, 2012 6:34:22 AM PDT
Hi Walter!

Thanks for your hard work. But for us non-engineers, could you spell out what is radically new and/or different about this missile?

Posted on May 31, 2012 7:26:20 AM PDT
Marilyn,

It's just an upgrade: "Raytheon's SM-3 Block IB maintains the reliability of the Block IA variant while incorporating a new, two-color infrared seeker, an advanced signal processor and a new Throttleable Divert and Attitude Control System."

1) New infrared device: a better more accurate heat detector
2) advanced signal processor: like a computer
3) new computer system/software that can change the rocket's speed and direction

Posted on May 31, 2012 7:31:31 AM PDT
Walter,

My guess is the same as yours -- that they can maneuver much faster with multiple divert and control nozzles vs. something that swivels.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2012 6:26:09 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "Thanks for your hard work. But for us non-engineers, could you spell out what is radically new and/or different about this missile?"

There wasn't anything particularly "hard" about it. It was just a case of "plug & chug," as we used to say in engineering school.

Regarding the SM-3 Block IB, Bob has already nailed it: "It's just an upgrade." There's nothing "radically new and/or different about this missile." That's how most progress is accomplished - not with a revolutionary concept or a world-changing paradigm, but with measured, step-by-step, incremental improvements.

Posted on Jun 1, 2012 11:01:15 AM PDT
Hi Walter!

Thanks for the answer. I guess those of us into Science Fiction are always looking forward to something "fantastic".

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 4:10:41 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "Thanks for the answer."

You're welcome.

RE: "I guess those of us into Science Fiction are always looking forward to something "fantastic"."

Not me! And I've been into science fiction ever since 1955, if not earlier. My main criterion when evaluating science fiction (aside from it having to be a good story, of course), is that the science in it MUST be correct. If it is future science, it has to be a reasonable extrapolation based on what we think we know about how the universe works.

A good example of what I mean is the series of trilogies written by Ian Douglas (a nom de plume; his real name is William H Keith). Here's a list of the books in the trilogies:

Heritage Trilogy
1. Semper Mars (1998)
2. Luna Marine (1999)
3. Europa Strike (2000)

Legacy Trilogy
1. Star Corps (2003)
2. Battlespace (2006)
3. Star Marines (2007)

Inheritance Trilogy
1. Star Strike (2008)
2. Galactic Corps (2008)
3. Semper Human (2009)

The books are about the U.S. Marines, starting in about 2042 and continuing for the next 1,000 years or so. While the books do have plenty of "action," what I like the most was the depiction of the evolution of science, engineering, and technology over the centuries. I'm not just speaking of the military equipment and tactics used by the Marines; we get glimpses of the civilian technological infrastructure, as well. The first trilogy, being placed in the 21st Century, shows stuff that's only incrementally improved over what's available today. Here's an excerpt:

"The M-29 ATAR, or advanced-technology assault rifle, was a direct-line descendent of the German-made G-11s of the last century, firing a 4.5mm ablative sabot caseless round with a muzzle velocity of over a kilometer and a half per second. With each bullet embedded in a solid rectangular block of propellant, there was no spent brass with each shot, and no open ejection port to foul with dirt, sand, or mud. The weapon was loaded by snapping a plastic box containing one hundred rounds into the loading port in the butt, a "bullpup" design that resulted in a rifle only seventy centimeters long and weighing just four kilos. The -29 looked like a blocky, squared-off plastic toy with a cheap telescope affixed to the top and a pistol grip on the bottom...which was why the men and women who carried them referred to the weapons as their toys.
The caseless ammo was both the M-29's greatest strength and its biggest weakness. The lack of shell casings to feed through an ejection port gave the rifle an incredibly high cyclic rate of twenty-five hundred rounds per minute, so fast that a three- or five-round burst could have the bullets on their way and dead on-target before the recoil had affected the shooter's aim. On the down-side, though, the firing chamber was easily fouled by chemical residues from the propellant blocks. The weapon used a clean-burning propellant, but there was always some gunk left over when it burned, and without an ejection port or shell casings, that gunk built up fast...fast enough to degrade the rifle's performance after only a couple of mags."

Douglas, Ian. Semper Mars. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1998, pp. 50-51.

In each subsequent novel, things get more advanced. For example, here's an excerpt from the third book of the second trilogy:

"Zero Hour...Zero Minute...Zero Second...
The leading cloud of sand had dispersed across a volume of space some fifteen thousand kilometers across, and each individual grain of sand, traveling at over ninety-nine percent of the speed of light, possessed incredible kinetic energy.
How much depended, of course, on the original mass of the grain. Sand particles range from 0.6 millimeter to about 2.1 millimeters in diameter. Quartz has a density of 2.67 grams per cubic centimeter, so the mass of a grain of sand ranges anywhere from three-tenths of a milligram to about 13 milligrams.
A particle massing 8 milligrams, however - fairly typical - released approximately 360 gigajoules - 360 billion joules of energy - when it hit something solid.
Three hundred and sixty thousand megajoules. That translated to about 72,000 kilograms of high explosive - seventy-two tons.
And there were 12,500 tons of the stuff in the first cloud.
William Blake had written of a world in a grain of sand; he hadn't intended that to mean a world of hurt....
And based on mass, a single metric ton of sand might contain something on the order of ten to the eleventh individual grains, and pack the equivalent of a 7.2 megaton nuclear explosion. Twelve and a half thousand tons of sand moving at near-c carried the destructive power of 90,000 megatons...though this first volley was dispersed over a very large area.
And nothing in that volume of space was safe from the incoming storm."

Douglas, Ian. Star Marines. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2007, pp. 355-356.

To put the above excerpt in context, it was part of a kinetic bombardment of a planetary base of the Xul, an extremely xenophobic alien species whose overriding imperative was to destroy all other species in the galaxy. They had, in an earlier book, attempted to destroy humanity with a bombardment of multiple asteroids. So, this was payback. The first bombardment was widely spread to destroy all spacecraft and orbital installations of the Xul. The second bombarment was more concentrated, intended to cause HUGE continent-disrupting earthquakes and massive planetwide tsunamis plus supercell storms in the planet's atmosphere. But the pièce de résistance came right on the heels of the first two strikes. An AI-controlled freighter (that had carried the fifty sand-filled cannisters of the first two strikes), massing at tens of thousands of metric tons (30,000 metric tons?) and traveling at 0.99c, smacked into the planet, literally cracking it open!

All of the above is eminently plausible. However, some of the technologies presented by Douglas in the final trilogy seem, at least to me, to be somewhat "fantastical." Yes, I'm well aware of Arthur C. Clarke's aphorism, "Any suffifiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Given the plausibility of the previous books, Douglas' "flights of fancy" were somewhat of a letdown. But I would still give the books of the final trilogy four out of five stars!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 6:03:19 PM PDT
TO: CivWar64 (Bob)

That reminds me of something else concerning ABMs. I had wondered why the designers of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or so-called "Star Wars") had opted for a kinetic kill methodology rather than using an explosive warhead. It turns out that two things are involved. (1) At space or near space altitudes, the effectiveness of an explosion is decreased because there is little or no air to propagate a shock wave. (2) An ICBM's warhead bus, traveling at around 15,000 miles per hour, would simply outrun the blast wave of an explosion, especially because of item (1).

I still, however, wonder why they don't use a "shotgun effect," having the ABM warhead fire thousands of 1-inch diameter steel balls (plain old ball bearings) at the target. Hmmmm...come to think of it, "shotgun" ball bearings would encounter the same problem as in item (2) above. Oh, well.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 7:18:39 PM PDT
Kinetic energy is nothing to be sneezed at. Our problems in the SDI time frame related to power modules and the ability to accelerate the steel/iron grapeshot. We had two types of power. Explosively driven which could generate large amounts of energy to accelerate mass, but would be limited to 1 shot or in some larger cases, 5-10 shots with smaller explosions. This limited the effectiveness. The storage energy modules could not generate the large amounts of energy to accelerate mass very fast, but it was repeatable. In both cases, the flaws caused opponents to effectively block most deployments. A example was the 80s PAR (Particle Accelerator Rifle). A large (long) bulky potentially hand-held weapon that ate it's power-packs like gangbusters. Additionally the velocity of the steel flechettes was approximately that of a rifle, so was not more effective than a rifle. Even with explosively accelerated masses, the velocity is way short of Ian Douglas' near light speed rounds.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2012 8:36:56 PM PDT
TO: L. Nye

RE: "Kinetic energy is nothing to be sneezed at."

Yep.

RE: "Our problems in the SDI time frame related to power modules and the ability to accelerate the steel/iron grapeshot."

Thanks for the info. Did you work on the SDI directly or something related?

Posted on Jun 2, 2012 7:27:40 AM PDT
Hi Walter!

Very interesting! But I'm puzzled why Military Sci Fi usually fails to take into account the alien gravity and environment on planets where they're fighting. Our Army-issue M-16s fouled out in the swamps, mud and humidity in Vietnam, and then again in the sand and dry wind in the MidEast.

Any intergalactic military would have to have weapons that could be instantly modified to fit any alien environment. The "perfect weapon" on Earth may be perfectly useless in an alien environment with different gravity or weather.

And how would an intergalactic military dress their soldiers? A protective one-piece uniform might seem ideal on the drawing board, but would have to allow for a full range of motion. And non-breathable air? Helmets are too restrictive, even with electronics sensors for 360 degree range of sight, which could be jammed. Nose-plugs would work best, to feed the soldier breathable air. But in an intense combat situation, soldiers usually start mouth-breathing as well.

Our own U.S. Army right now is all excited about exo-skeletons, so soldiers could carry more weight. But they wouldn't have full range of motion if attacked, and collapsing on the ground (especially if one or both of the exo-leg enhancements are shot out), would force them to lie there like a sitting duck with all that weight.

And with all the reliance on drones for surveillance and attack (and soon, biometric software so a drone could follow just one wanted-enemy until they could line up a kill-shot), why do our ground-pounders need to be hauling all that weight around anyway? Especially if helicopters could put them in the exact drop-zone?

I tried to find a past discussion in this forum, "What if gun powder hadn't been invented?", but couldn't find it. Interesting discussion in it similar to this.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 9:10:58 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
"But I'm puzzled why Military Sci Fi usually fails to take into account the alien gravity and environment on planets where they're fighting."

Got any specific examples (or stats) to back up that "usually"?

"Any intergalactic military..."

Did you perhaps mean "interplanetary", "interstellar" or "galactic"? Or even "intragalactic"? (Words do actually mean things. Look it up.)

Ooh, you got to mention drones again! :D

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 2:19:10 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2012 2:28:55 PM PDT
Walter: Yes, I did work with a small segment of SDI.
Marilyn: Physics is Physics. Once the science for a new weapon has been developed sufficiently, the deployment merely becomes tailoring the weapon for the end environment(s). If you develop a good particle accelerator rifle (handheld or for exo). then you develop additional addons. If exo in space, say a computer feed to the exo attitude rocket packs to balance mass acceleration against the exo for a recoil-less effect. For caustic environments, hardened weapon surfaces and seals. For heavy grav, boost the acceleration (drains more power, but needed to compensate for higher grav). Much of this could be computerized for automatic adjustment. Assuming your science is there for the weapon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2012 9:54:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 10, 2012 6:10:00 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "intergalactic"

This is off the topic that you're asking about, but since it's one of my pet peeves, I'll address it first. "Intergalactic" means "between galaxies." I know of very little science fiction that tries to address distances on that scale. Almost all SF stories are "interplanetary" (within a single solar system - usually ours) or "interstellar" (within a single galaxy - almost always the Milky Way). The people who write the blurbs on the back of paperbacks and the inside jacket of hardcovers do this all the time; they're so loose with their language that I sometimes wonder if they've even read a synopsis of the story. Well, since they're marketing types, I'm not surprised at such sloppiness. But I WAS surprised at seeing it coming from you!

RE: "Any intergalactic (!!!) military would have to have weapons that could be instantly modified to fit any alien environment. The "perfect weapon" on Earth may be perfectly useless in an alien environment with different gravity or weather."

The first novel in the Heritage Trilogy, "Semper Mars," addresses that very thing.

RE: "A protective one-piece uniform might seem ideal on the drawing board, but would have to allow for a full range of motion. And non-breathable air?"

Please read "The Forever War" by Joe Haldeman. He has his troops training on Pluto!

RE: "Helmets are too restrictive..."

Not necessarily. Arthur C. Clarke's "The Hammer of God" proposes a solution to the "restriction" problem that was developed after the first marathon race was run on the Moon.

RE: "Our own U.S. Army right now is all excited about exo-skeletons, so soldiers could carry more weight. But they wouldn't have full range of motion if attacked, and collapsing on the ground (especially if one or both of the exo-leg enhancements are shot out), would force them to lie there like a sitting duck with all that weight."

I see the HULC (powered exo-skeleton) as the beginning of a process that will eventually lead to the powered armored suits as envisioned by Robert A. Heinlein and Joe Haldemen.

RE: "...why do our ground-pounders need to be hauling all that weight around anyway?"

Well, there are times when it could come in real handy to have an anti-tank weapon (such as the M72 LAW or the Javelin) or a heavy machine gun (M2 .50 cal - the good ole "Ma Duece").

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M72_LAW
http://www.army-technology.com/projects/javelin/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M2_Browning_machine_gun

RE: "Especially if helicopters could put them in the exact drop-zone?"

Helicopters do NOT put troops right on top of - or even very close to - the target or objective. Since helicopters are noisy (and easy to shoot down), they have to deposit the troops some distance away from their objective.

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 6:41:16 AM PDT
Thanks for the clarification, Walter.

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 7:39:35 AM PDT
Ronald Craig says:
[snicker]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 10:00:26 AM PDT
L. Nye -

Very nice explanation, Thanks. Sounds like future militaries will have to scan the alien environment first in order to adjust for the environmental conditions.

As you said, if the science is there for the weaponry, scans and then weaponry adjustments could be done from craft in orbit. And, like the way our own military is going with drones and attack planes, initial attacks from overhead could soften the target for the later ground troops.

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 1:15:57 PM PDT
Walter,

re: I know of very little science fiction that tries to address distances on that scale.

Didn't the old Skylark go intergalactic at one point when it ran amok (and the copper cylinder got exhausted)? I haven't read those books in ages so I don't remember.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 5:12:52 PM PDT
TO: Marilyn Martin

RE: "Thanks for the clarification, Walter."

You are very welcome.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2012 5:15:28 PM PDT
TO: CivWar64 (Bob)

RE: "Didn't the old Skylark go intergalactic at one point when it ran amok (and the copper cylinder got exhausted)?"

I assume that you're referring to the works of Doc Smith. I've never read any of his stuff, so I couldn't say.

Posted on Jun 3, 2012 8:11:31 PM PDT
Walter,

Yes, the E.E. "Doc" Smith's books. They are a bit juvenile, but fairly entertaining. Two of them are available as ebooks over at Project Gutenberg and here on Amazon for free. [I seem to remember that you don't have a Kindle, so better is the Gutenberg site since they are distributed in multiple formats such as HTML that you can read in your browser.]

The Skylark of Space or http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20869
Skylark Three or http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/21051

I did a search on 'galaxy' in the two books and found that in Skylark Three they go intergalactic, so you might be interested. It wasn't in the first book as when I relooked at it, they only went a few hundred light years. Skylark Three extract->

"Hour after hour the Fenachrone vessel bored on, with its frightful and ever-increasing velocity, through the ever-thinning stars, but it was not until the last star had been passed, until everything before them was entirely devoid of light, and until the Galaxy behind them began to take on a well-defined lenticular aspect, that Ravindau would consent to leave the controls and to seek his hard-earned rest.

Day after day and week after week went by, and the Fenachrone vessel still held the rate of motion with which she had started out. Ravindau and Fenimol sat in the control cabin, staring out through the visiplates, abstracted. There was no need of staring, and they were not really looking, for there was nothing at which to look. Outside the transparent metal hull of that monster of the trackless void, there was nothing visible. The Galaxy of which our Earth is an infinitesimal mote, the Galaxy which former astronomers considered the Universe, was so far behind that its immeasurable diameter was too small to affect the vision of the unaided eye. Other Galaxies lay at even greater distances away on either side. The Galaxy toward which they were making their stupendous flight was as yet untold millions of light-years distant. Nothing was visible-before their gaze stretched an infinity of emptiness. No stars, no nebulæ, no meteoric matter, nor even the smallest particle of cosmic dust-absolutely empty space. Absolute vacuum and absolute zero. Absolute nothingness-a concept intrinsically impossible for the most highly trained human mind to grasp."

Ah, I love that old dramatic style of writing.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2012 10:31:24 PM PDT
TO: CivWar64 (Bob)

Thanks for the info and links.

A more modern (relatively speaking) book that eventually gets into intergalctic and even interuniversal travel is the hard science fiction novel "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson, in my opinion, one of the Old Masters. Here's a link to a synopsis of the novel:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tau_Zero

Check it out; it's excellent!
[Add comment]
Add your own message to the discussion
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Prompts for sign-in
 


Recent discussions in the Science Fiction forum


Active discussions in related forums  
   
 

This discussion

Discussion in:  Science Fiction forum
Participants:  57
Total posts:  1114
Initial post:  Oct 8, 2009
Latest post:  Nov 5, 2013

New! Receive e-mail when new posts are made.
Tracked by 8 customers

Search Customer Discussions