Sunday, November 8, 2009

Space Warfare: The Inevitable Frontier

You want to knock out a satellite? Just get a projectile of some kind and aim it at your target. All it takes is a nudge. Bad news for the militaries of the world, as many of them rely extensively on the intelligence gathered from satellites, other than the military that has the resources to pull it off.

And what happens when a nuclear warhead is detonated in the vacuum of space? There is no mushroom cloud—no atmosphere and no gravity means the explosion expands equally in every direction and covers a much larger area with radiation than the same explosion would in a conventional environment. My source also states that a nuke of "average" size (whatever that is) would cripple or destroy every satellite for a fifty mile radius. That's nothing compared to what a space-exploded nuke does to the surface of the earth: an electromagnetic wave will power down electronics for miles.

All this and more was discussed in an episode of The Universe on The History Channel.



Other topics covered:

What will dogfights look like in space? Answer: nothing like they look like on earth, which means that space operas like Star Wars have it all wrong. Unless your fighter ship is a shuttle that enters and exits planetary atmospheres, why would it even need wings? One expert suggests the perfect shape for space fighter would be a cube capable of switching its focus within a three-hundred and sixty degree field at the drop of a hat. Evasive maneuvers wouldn't be long and sweeping; they'd be sudden and jerky.

And when will we get laser pistols? Certainly not any time in our lifetimes.

Further reading:
Space Warfare: High Tech War of the Future Generation

Also see:

Freespace 2
A space combat simulator that has been kept alive and continually updated thanks to modders. After getting the original copy for a measly $6, search for information regarding "Freespace 2 Open." Very fun, even several years after it's initial release.

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