The Physics of Space Battles

The Physics of Space Battles

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bobthedinosaur
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The Physics of Space Battles

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knorke
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by knorke »

just use a fragmentation grenade, the shrapnels will destroy any spacecraft.
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Teutooni
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by Teutooni »

I don't think manned fighter sized craft will be of much use. They won't have enough fuel to ascend from surface of a planet on their own nor enough fuel/life support capacity to travel between planets. Fighter drones maybe, but they'd be more like extension of a larger ships/stations weapon system, not individual spacecraft.
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AF
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by AF »

Did battlestar galactica not teach people anything? Almost every single military ship in that universe is a fighter carrier ship with supporting big guns/ missiles
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SwiftSpear
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by SwiftSpear »

AF wrote:Did battlestar galactica not teach people anything? Almost every single military ship in that universe is a fighter carrier ship with supporting big guns/ missiles
It depends on the armor vs weaponary effectiveness balance. That can work fine if your ship can shrug off slugs all day long. But if it's anything like modern day combat a tank sized orbitcraft can shoot a projectile that can effectively sink a battleship sized orbitcraft if your projectile can hit the gyro motors or some similar necessary component.

Although, that's arguable too, the law of equal and opposite reactions seems to indicate that shooting really massive projectiles in space is going to push your craft the opposite direction. And you'll therefore need to somehow expell an equal ammount of energy backwards as you are injecting forwards, with the exception of lazer weapons.

Oh, nuclear weapons would be pretty interesting, since they can do alot of electro magnetic damage without carrying too massive a projectile at too much speed.

Another interesting thing, your most powerful kinetic weapons, cannons and what not, would have some interesting effects. At certain angles you'd be able to fire a conventional cannon without causing a catastrophic distablization of your orbit. If your craft is simply moving in the opposite direction of the kinetic projectile, at certain angles you can fire freely and quickly and your orbit will harmlessly shift, where as at other angles your orbit with catastrophically decay and you'll have to expend a huge amount of energy to restore it again. If a combat craft has to be orbiting in a certain place for some tactical reason (of which there are many because you can't tactically defend certain attacks at some angles, so you need craft in place that have positions capable of countering those attacks) Then there needs to be some solution of fixing the orbit of a combat craft when it has been modified by combat action, there will be alot of interesting ramifications to such a thing, time windows for repairing an orbit while expending the least amount of energy by tow craft and stuff like that.

Space combat has alot of math... It would be fun to code some simulations... in sort of a masochistic way.
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AF
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

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To fire such a huge projectile while remaining stationary, one would need an equal impulse on the opposite sides, crushing the ship. If you can solve this problem then you can apply it to the enemy ship and render your weapon useless!

Of course we have self guided projectiles, or piercing rounds, or various configurations of counter impulse, or even not bothering and shifting orbits as you said

Eitherway it would appear the borg with their gigantic cubes and spheres with multiple decentralized redundant systems got it right.
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zwzsg
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

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AF wrote:To fire such a huge projectile while remaining stationary, one would need an equal impulse on the opposite sides, crushing the ship. If you can solve this problem then you can apply it to the enemy ship and render your weapon useless!
Hmm, no.

The aim of projectile is to damage the enemy by picking little hole in it, not to push it. You can fire a slug small and slow enough that the recoil isn't too bad for you, yet that slug would be able to go trough the enemy ship, damaging whatever it goes through.
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bobthedinosaur
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by bobthedinosaur »

Needle guns? Also the muzzle velocity would generally be impact velocity and aero dynamics of projectiles would not be a concern.
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Muzic
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by Muzic »

From my rudimentary knowledge of classical physics, space combat would be pretty retarded. WHERE ARE THE EXPLOSIONS AND SOUND?!

Don't get me wrong, BSG gave me a woodie seeing vipers, the only fucking manned spacecraft which understood it was in SPACE ( seriously, seeing x-wings having to make attack runs and sweeps was retarded when you could just have thursters turn you upside down and around) was fucking A.

Electronic warfare would probably be the most feasible in Space war, assuming everyone's spacecraft has armor thick enough that conventional artillery and what not wouldn't be able to penetrate through most craft. EMPs, lasers which disrupt shielding and or communications/internal systems, then boarding the space craft.

You could probably design a space craft where the broadside of the ship would contain the guns and the opposite side would contain the engines and thursters so that when you fire you are able to still go 'forward' without fucking up your orbit.

Also the Metal Storm gun system would probably be very useful in space combat.
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Caydr
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

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Because of the tremendous velocities involved and a total lack of atmospheric friction, a conventional weapon wouldn't need to have much mass at all to cause catastrophic damage. It's an often-repeated story that technicians find things like tiny paint chips and such stuck an inch into the space shuttle's hull or windows. An actual 9mm bullet, made of depleted uranium or something, traveling at a fair velocity would instagib pretty much anything... within reason. However, you'd have a lot of difficulty getting close enough to make an accurate shot. Stealth and detection technology would play a huge part.

Laser weapons, despite traditionally being viewed as the most practical space weapon, would probably not be very effective due to the long distances involved. Focusing a laser on one point and then precisely tracking the target long enough to cause damage would be all but impossible, especially given that there could easily be a second or more of visual lag between you and the target. Even a fraction of a second of travel time would allow the target to alter its course very slightly (via automated system) to spread the damage over a wide area. Besides this, material science is already providing us with ways of completely diffusing or harmlessly refracting laser light regardless of how powerful it is. Speaking of power, you would need a LOT of power to make such a weapon system at all viable, increasing your mass to levels such that your ship would be useless for any combat purpose.

In the next fifty or hundred years, if there's a fight in outer space, it would almost certainly be fought with hundreds of tiny missiles with sophisticated ECM/ECCM systems. Nothing else would be cost/mass efficient enough while also being reasonably accurate and difficult to defend against.

I think that the weaponization of space isn't going to happen. Any real fight taking place around earth would make it extremely dangerous to ever send anything into orbit again. The stakes are too high for everyone involved and there's little to be gained at this point. Even in the best-case scenario it will still be trivially easy to blow up something in orbit with cheap missiles launched in essentially unlimited numbers from the surface. The Americans demonstrated this a year or two ago by shooting down one of their own satellites that was supposedly going to crash someplace too close for comfort.
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Muzic
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by Muzic »

Caydr wrote:Because of the tremendous velocities involved and a total lack of atmospheric friction, a conventional weapon wouldn't need to have much mass at all to cause catastrophic damage. It's an often-repeated story that technicians find things like tiny paint chips and such stuck an inch into the space shuttle's hull or windows. An actual 9mm bullet, made of depleted uranium or something, traveling at a fair velocity would instagib pretty much anything... within reason. However, you'd have a lot of difficulty getting close enough to make an accurate shot. Stealth and detection technology would play a huge part.
Yeah so it wont slow down. But it doesn't mean that friction between atoms at the microscopic level with the bullet and the ship wouldn't slow it down. A strong enough plate of armor would easily stop it; but the kinetic energy would be transfered and cause the ship, no matter how large, to move. So in otherwords, put it in the Metal Storm then you'll fuck shit up.
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Teutooni
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by Teutooni »

Metal storm? Pfft, try railguns. Armor able to stop a hundred megajoule projectile would need to be so massive it just wouldn't be practical.
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Caydr
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

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Muzic wrote:
Caydr wrote:Because of the tremendous velocities involved and a total lack of atmospheric friction, a conventional weapon wouldn't need to have much mass at all to cause catastrophic damage. It's an often-repeated story that technicians find things like tiny paint chips and such stuck an inch into the space shuttle's hull or windows. An actual 9mm bullet, made of depleted uranium or something, traveling at a fair velocity would instagib pretty much anything... within reason. However, you'd have a lot of difficulty getting close enough to make an accurate shot. Stealth and detection technology would play a huge part.
Yeah so it wont slow down. But it doesn't mean that friction between atoms at the microscopic level with the bullet and the ship wouldn't slow it down. A strong enough plate of armor would easily stop it; but the kinetic energy would be transfered and cause the ship, no matter how large, to move. So in otherwords, put it in the Metal Storm then you'll fuck shit up.
Ok, so let's say you need an inch thick super duper armor in order to stop a bullet of a certain mass traveling at a certain speed. In order for that to be effective, you would need to completely encase all sensitive areas of the ship with it. Engines, fuel tanks, possibly any areas with air, etc.

You ship now weighs so much that it needs to have larger engines and bigger fuel tanks in order to be able to accelerate at any useful speed. It will also need bigger, more powerful steering thrusters, at least three of them, more likely six or twelve. And those should probably be armored, along with their fuel tanks, or else they would explode spectacularly at the slightest provocation.

In short: The Empire got it right, something akin to Tie Fighters are probably the best option, but probably remote-piloted or with AI control. And missiles, lots and lots of missiles. Alternatively, a giant sphere of some kind would be a very efficient way of maximizing the internal space while minimizing the amount of armor required. As an added bonus, we wouldn't need artificial gravity tech, since it could spin.

That is, until we can figure out some way of manufacturing things off-world, or cheaply transporting things into orbit. Getting stuff off the ground is just too expensive and wasteful right now. Perhaps some sort of nuclear-powered ship with engines that didn't rely on fuel would be a good option, sort of a slow taxi to orbit. This would significantly reduce the problems associated with space elevator ideas, since it wouldn't be limited to a single location.

...But you'd have to do it somewhere where the populace hadn't been frightened into thinking that nuclear power was the antichrist.
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AF
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by AF »

We have the technology and resources to commandeer a very large mountain, and pour thundreds of thousands of millions of tonnes of concrete and the link onto it to create an enormous pillar of huge proportions, miles and miles high, which would serve as a good place to launch things from and place observatories and antennas to allow our rockets to go that much further and bridge the distance.

Such a pillar could also be hollowed out at the top to protect against the elements. 20 miles lopped off the distance? Coupled with orbital fuel depots?

We also forgetting missiles would be horribly prone to weak EMP?
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PicassoCT
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by PicassoCT »

hollowed asteroids for the worx, they are cheap, they are up in space in place, they only need propulsionsystems, and sleepchambers + colonize material, and send ahead terraformers. It has no style, but those colonists can rewrite history and paint beautifull spaceships in there historybooks, if they need them so bad to feel superior to us earthlings.
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hoijui
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by hoijui »

well...
this is space battle of the future, as seen by a single person, which is a specialist in some fields...
eg, this article, and also most talk in here, is centered around physical stuff we alreayd know quite well about, and even there, only a fraction of it. that is obvious of course, as one person/a few persons can not possible forsee all usefull combinations of al techniques we already have an dmight be inventing.

for me, it is clear that AI will play a much bigger role, as well as nano-technology. plus the two combined. a weapon could be a small rocket with a tank containing nano-robots, which then land on the enemy ship. they could eat it up, or walk around on it to find vulnerable spots, and get in, or mark the spots. what about chemicals, or something that burns through the hull. nano technology could make the hull shift its main strenght to specific parts, where it awaits impacts, or nano bots could swarm around the ship in some distance, and concentrate in the direction the enemy is aproaching, ...
then there might be other technologies we may not think of yet, and if AI is allready really powerfull, anything would be totally unpredictable anyway for us from now. even if it were not as powerfull as in matrix or other movies, it would definatly be more powerfull then now (more computing power/quantum computing), and be used in/for everything.
maybe we would shoot material into space in small capsules with a big bertha from Afs pile of dirth, instead of using giant rockets.
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AF
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by AF »

We could always try and deflect metalic projectiles with powerful electromagnetics coupled with crafty movements, such as rotating to show the least surface area and bending its trajectory so it near misses

Or having internal components that can actually move out the way or repair themselves, like the rubber in cutting matts.
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Caydr
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by Caydr »

Nanobots are quite small (understatement of the week)... I don't think they'd be able to move fast enough to be effective in any of those scenarios. Used offensively, they could certainly be dangerous but I think it wouldn't be long before someone figured out a way of making the hull immune to them by some means. Maybe some kind of localized EMP? Used defensively, they couldn't get to a target location fast enough in sufficient numbers to be effective.

In war, the objective is always to destroy your enemy faster than your enemy can destroy you. Microscopic eating machines won't prevent a ship from firing off its entire payload, even though it will eventually succumb to the cumulative effect.

Nanotech is scary stuff, but we've had hundreds of years to get conventional explosives "just right". I don't think we'll switch to something else unless the "something else" can have a similar and immediate destructive effect.

That's why I think missiles are the most likely thing in ship-to-ship combat. They're fast, can make quick and accurate course adjustments, cheap to make in massive numbers, relatively lightweight, and don't require support equipment of any kind except a mounting bracket and what is rapidly becoming a very simple computer system.

On the other hand, as a terror weapon or to destroy soft targets, nanobots would be incredibly effective. More than anything else in the future, the idea of self-replicating nanobots scares me. Regardless of the many good things nanobots would be capable of, the risk is so great I'd like to see research banned.
Last edited by Caydr on 23 Dec 2009, 04:24, edited 1 time in total.
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bobthedinosaur
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Post by bobthedinosaur »

Missiles with fragmentary or flak like warheads?
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