Real Genius (1985)
Operation Crossbow is all I could think of when I read they wanted to put laser weapons in space.
France is threatening to stick submachine guns on its next generation of satellites as part of an "active space defense" strategy that would enable it to shoot down other space hardware. That demented idea is part of a broader review of the country's approach to space that has absolutely nothing to do with President Donald …
For the machine guns in space I guess someone's been watching Battlestar Galactica or The Expanse.
If it's in The Expanse it's probably doable in real life some day, the question is if we would want to... And the answer is no, because if it were used Earth would be locked in a cage of shrapnel.
"Looks like real news from where I'm sitting 32 years later."
The scariest thing about that clip is that it could have been broadcast just yesterday as part of a real news programme and no one would have thought it was a 30 year old clip. The newsreaders still fit the look and presenting style, ie cookie cutter presenters.
If direct war breaks out involving two or more spacefaring countries against each other, you better not plan to depend on satellites for your TV or other telecommunications needs, because orbit is quickly going to be full of far too much shrapnel to track once the 'first strike' happens.
Maybe that's Fermi's "Great Filter", civilizations do something stupid and are unable to reliably launch anything off their planet ever again so they see no point in trying to communicate with anyone else.
Surely all you need to do is launch a few large magnets and let attraction take its course... Over time, all the magnetic junk will be caught by the magnets and then the coalescing balls of junk will sweep up everything in their paths - as they get bigger, they sweep up more junk. Problem solved! :-)
If only Willie Coyote physics worked in the real world .... Yet Another Anonymous coward
How very odd 0ne would not Believe IT to be easily so. ....... and with all of these new-fangled entangling tools and exciting programs streaming ....... well, Future Instruction Sets which be Virtually Free Online for Protocol Command and Control Advancement Testing/Stealthy Firing ......for Simply Complex Range Finding Purpose.
One wouldn't want to be bedevilled and bewildered, bedazzled and bewitched in the draughty halls of delusion whenever the real chambers of delight are so heavenly a confection/desire/satisfaction/temptation
:-) And that all simply says is the above be demonstrably true .... and readily available for Future AI Testing with the Best of ALTuring Type Applications which Never Forget the Insatiable Pleasures Presented for Delivery. .... and they be for All to Enjoy and Employ ...... with Immaculate Desire to Satisfy Exhaustively and to Heavenly XSS. :-)
* ... Oh Well
A clean way to take out a satellite would be to deploy a spinning disk of black mylar coated with a gecko type adhesive. By positioning it in an orbit that will intersect the satellite with a smallish relative velocity of about 100mph its tiny mass would mean the impact would cause no debris but it would envelope and disable the satellite,
100 mph would definitely cause a lot of debris. You don't think if you flung a piece of mylar at a solar panel it wouldn't break? Satellites are extremely flimsy, because every pound is precious. It would be very easy to break off pieces with even a 10 mph relative speed, let alone 100.
A 20m radius disk of 5 micron mylar weighs less than 10 grams
Even at 100mph the impact energy is only 6 joules and spread over all the satellite.
To put that energy in context, take a nice rubber band that will stretch fully to about 200mm. That's about 2J of stored energy. Alternatively if you twist it about 100 times you will have over 7J stored.
♫ 'When I was a young man I carried a gun* & used to play wars with the ARes" ♫ (to tune of Bogle's 'the band played waltzing matilda')
*defined as an M60 GPMG - the recoil on that was quite savage. Could image the satellite being nudged out of orbit by the recoil.
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Any sort of space weapon system will require certain things. Assuming it's not being controlled from the ground, it will need a way to locate and track a target. It will need propulsion and maneuvering capability. And really, that's all you need. Instead of shooting or ramming the target into shrapnel, match speeds and grab it in a space tackle. Then fire the drive to push the intact target out of orbit, and/or set it spinning. Various ways to grab on, testing would find the best way.
Someone with a better grasp of orbital mechanics than me can address this, but I don't believe it takes too much to deorbit a satellite. They only have so much maneuvering fuel, and a second Tackle can be sent if needed. It's tough for most satellites to do much useful work with a 30 RPM (unplanned) rotation, and again only so much fuel for the cursing ground controllers to resist it. Once the target is sufficiently out of control and not being boosted now and then, it might drop into the atmosphere on its own.
Relatively simple, inexpensive, effective, and no extra space junk created. Could work.
I don't know (and couldn't talk about it if I did), but my bet is that the major powers -- the US, China, Russia -- have long had the hardware in place to disable the other major power's surveillance and military communications satellites in the event of serious conflict. On paper at least disabling that stuff is not difficult. Satellite orbits are well known within a day or two of launch and they are not very maneuverable. They make supertankers look agile. Taking advantage of the satellite's orbital velocity, it is not difficult (on paper) to hit them with a spread of "buckshot" traveling at speeds on the order of 50000 km/h. That's maybe 5 times the speed of a very high velocity armor piercing round. Even grain of sand sized particles would likely punch serious holes in the lightly built targets. It may, BTW, be easier to disable satellites with a ground based system than a space based one. Trust me on this. This has surely all been thought through by the military of every country with even a token space launch capability.
This is what worries me most about various 'rogue' states' space/missile programs. If they want to level the playing field and deny their enemies the advantage of space-based surveillance and communications, they don't have to achieve the capability of stable orbits themselves. They just need to throw some debris across the paths of a few satellites and start the cascade.
(icon: How can you hear that they are black helicopters?)
"Cascade is putting it a bit strongly, I'd say. Sure they would make low earth orbit a substantially more dangerous place, but if you're just hitting a couple of satellites and then waiting for debris to take care of the rest - we'll, that's likely to be a long wait.
Decades. Long enough for your movement and its cause to be long forgotten. So the strategic value is pretty much zip.
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