SomeGuy123

Space Warships : What if bigger ships are faster?

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It's pretty much a trope of space opera that smaller space fighters are faster*.  This is generally true in Earth's atmosphere, because fast aircraft are extremely expensive and drag slows them down the larger they are.

But if you had a fusion engine, the bigger the engine is, the larger the internal core volume where the conditions permit fusion, and the smaller the mass ratio of magnets and other equipment relative to the power output of the engine.

Since a fusion exhaust engine just lets the hot plasma escape directly, as power output rises the mass of the equipment that handles the waste heat and so forth rises more slowly, because most of the heat and light reflects off other plasma and not off the engine walls.  

Allegedly, other effects related to fusion I don't know about make the power output scale with something like the fifth power of the radius of the reactor core.  

Anyways, at some point the scaling would stop because the engine core would be so hot that the engine walls would ablate away faster than you could practically repair or cool them.  

But that power level might require a truly gigantic engine.  Something massing thousands of tons.  Something so big and complex that after you add the warship's other systems - armor, weaponry, defense systems, sensors, propellant tanks - you might as well have a crew onboard because the mass of their accommodations isn't significant.  Also, there would be so many onboard systems to repair, and a trillion dollar asset like this would be best utilized if humans are onboard to optimize the decision making.  

Engines like I'm describing would still not be capable of all that much acceleration - maybe 1/100 of a G?  It wouldn't be much, even with a power output measurable in terawatts.  So crew would have no trouble with the forces.

Space fighters, psh.  Capital ships all the way.

*By faster I mean more acceleration at high ISP.  This means the warship with the bigger, more efficient engine is much harder to hit with missiles because it can choose to run away if too many missiles for it to shoot them all down are launched at it.  Since the missiles have to be small to be cost effective, their engines have to be inefficient, so even if they have higher peak acceleration, at longer ranges they will run out of fuel before they ever reach their target, assuming the target is running away at maximum burn.  Fusion engines have enough ISP to burn for days.  The warship with the better engine also gets to decide the terms of it's encounters and can run down ships with smaller engines at will.

Edited by SomeGuy123

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I agree, though I usually work the premice from the perspective of a full up Orion Drive mothership.

Capital Ships are durable goods, missiles/laserdrone "fighters" are consumables. 

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33 minutes ago, Rakaydos said:

I agree, though I usually work the premice from the perspective of a full up Orion Drive mothership.

Yeah, Orion is an identical argument, bigger pusher plates "catch" more of the nuclear shockwave and make better use of a given amount of propellant (the bombs) mass.  Also you cannot shrink a nuke below a certain practical size, and smaller nukes are less efficient, so orion drive missiles do not make sense unless you consider a missile as a "robot ramming warship we're going to throw away because we want to kill the enemy capital ship that bad"

Ramming "sorta" always works - depends on approach speed.  If you cannot get to a high enough approach velocity, the guns on the ship you are trying to ram can burn out a critical system in the engine of the rammer.  Then the ship merely juke a little and the rammer will miss.  You can put more armor and guns on the rammer, but if you do that, pretty soon you are just throwing away a whole warship in a ramming run.

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The usual thought of Capital ships vs Fighters is that the fighter's endurance (supplies, fuel, delta-v total, etc..  ) are expected to be **massively** less than the capital ship

 

The big guy has to carry enough fuel to get to the battle, AND return afterwards, AND carry enough twinkies to keep the crew fed for the 3 years the trip will take AND provide a toilet to get rid of the twinkies afterwards.

Have you ever heard of a figher with a built-in fridge, shower and loo? Nope.

Figher is just pilot on a seat, (maybe) some life support, strapped to a stonking big engine and totin' guns. No frills.

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6 minutes ago, MarvinKitFox said:

Figher is just pilot on a seat, (maybe) some life support, strapped to a stonking big engine and totin' guns. No frills.

As I said in my OP, which you might wanna reread, the problem is that fundamental engine physics may stop any engine smaller than something aircraft carrier size from being efficient or high thrust.  

Ditto with guns.  Fundamental physics may mean the best guns - ultra extreme range x-ray lasers - are so much better (and so gigantic) to make every other gun pointless.

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Why have fighters when battles are very likely outside the range of any small crafts?

It is just going to be big ship slugging it out. Although.... for a ship that is as big as a planet like death star, a few kms long ship is going to look like a fighter.

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Big ships, while their top speed may be faster than a fighter, would turn much more slowly.  Ditto with the big guns. So a fighter would be able to be effective against a honking big Capitol ship.  Now you have to add antifighter defensive weaponry, etc, etc.  

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In the absence of magic "inertial dampeners" and unobtanium materials, large spacecraft will have their acceleration limited by structural considerations. They might have more delta-V because they have more volume for fuel in comparison to surface for tankage and armour, but they probably have lower TWR than smaller spacecraft, down to a point.

Moment of inertia, and centripetal forces needed when spinning, also start to bite big ships. Even if they pack great straight-line acceleration, they probably can't turn as quickly as a smaller craft. You can put multiple engines in different directions or thrust-vector the engines but both those add deadweight from a straight-line performance standpoint. (And at the really big end even thrust vectoring the engine probably isn't such a quick thing either).

Of course the internet has had its say on "space fighters" anyway. The widely accepted argument is that a disposable missile is better than a fighter that needs to fly back to its carrier afterwards. But doesn't that pose a question - at what scale, if any, is it then worth building a spaceship instead of a giant missile?

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Have you noticed the buzz about drones (both personal and the hellfire-missile-totting variety)?  Crewed craft (either air or space) have hard limitations on the g-forces you can pull and remain conscious/healthy.  This leads to a real difference in current tech, although USSR was the only place to launch a crewed armed space station (might have been Russia by then, around when it fell), and I think all "Star Wars" weapons launched by the US have been unmanned.

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i think its more about the overall ship mass than just the power to weight ratio of the engine. a big capital ship is going to have a lot of other heavy things in it, armaments, cargo, fuel, crew facilities, repair and maintenance facilities, perhaps some medical and science facilities as well and of course places to store, launch and maintain fighters (battlestar galactica seems to allocate a lot of ship mass to that job). the fighter in comparison is really just going to have bare minimum life support, some weapons, and an engine and fuel. so even though it has a highly inefficient engine with a poor twr, that engine doesnt have to push around very much else.

star trek is kind of an exception i suppose. there are little ships but they arent capable of warp 9+. as a result you dont see much use of small craft except as shuttles. there have been a couple episodes where fighters were shown, but most of the space battles seem to occur starship to starship. now that i think about it trek space battles are kind of boring and very unrealistic militarily speaking (ignoring all the other more obvious technobabble handwavery). the real irony though is that it gets it right that fighters are mostly not neccisary.

Edited by Nuke

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Problem is, you can only build so many big warships. At some point you just have to stop, because no sane economy can be centered 100% on building big honkin' spaceships. And then you have the choice: build 10 gargantuan, very expensive battleships that can destroy any enemy they encounter, but they can be in only 10 places of your vast empire at any given moment. Or should you build 50 smaller, less expensive ships able to cover more territory. Or maybe you should build 500 even smaller, cheap ships able to be everywhere you need them? And then there is the matter of unavoidable losses. What is more acceptable: to lose one battleship, or 50 fighters?

Current naval warfare (which is a closest thing we have that we can compare to space warfare) goes in a curious, almost paradoxical direction. Warships are becoming bigger, more complicated, more expensive and of course more capable than ever. And yet at the same time more and more effort is spent to get them out of harm's way. Stealth, better sensors, guided missiles, railguns with the range of hundreds of kilometers, defensive laser weapons - all that to keep precious weapon platforms as far as possible from the actual battlefield. And at the same time to drop said battlefield directly on enemy heads. From afar. Preferably avoiding detection until the last possible moment.

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Personally, I highly doubt that larger vessels will participate to any great extent in combat. With regards to the "bigger ships are faster" hypothesis, the square-cube law strikes again: Engine apertures (e.g, where the thrust itself is admitted) may only grow as the square of their scaling, while the engine's mass and volume will grow as the cube. While this may be offset by superior propulsion mechanisms, it will significantly diminish the advantage thereby generated.

Another square-cube factor to consider is the matter of heat dissipation; as ships grow larger, their surface-area-to-volume ratio necessarily diminishes, meaning that they will require enormous (and vulnerable) radiators to rid themselves of it. This also means it is likely that any high-energy weapons will be single-use only; it is much easier to have a disposable weapons system and make heat concerns irrelevant than it is to cool a megawatt laser or something similar, where even small conversion inefficiencies will compound the problem of heat generation. The above biases combat potential further towards fighters and smallcraft designs; they are better suited to both dissipate weapon heat and to fire disposable missiles or other weapons to that effect.

An additional problem is that, at the end of the day, larger ships are just better targets. Say a capital ship is x times larger than a fighter; then to dodge a weapon it must move a distance greater by that same factor, which, assuming both are capable of the same acceleration, means a x^1/2 longer (technically x^2/4, assuming the weapon is aimed at the center) dodge time. If you assume capital ships have proportionally thicker armor to "tank" these kinds of unavoidable hits, then they will be very slow indeed, and thus it will be only a matter of time before weapon fire grows sufficient to completely obliterate it. As made apparent by the Naval Battle Club threads, armor is largely ineffective against even kinetic energy weapons, much less nuclear-tipped weapons; what are you going to do against a tungsten rod capped with a 30 megaton warhead moving at 5 km/s?

The final nail in the coffin is Lancaster's Law, which states that for ranged combat an n^2 increase in quality (e.g, armor, weapons, etc.) is proportional to only an n increase in number of opponents, and thus it will be vastly more effective to have a swarm of small ships than several big ones. As such, there is no real reason to utilize large vessels outside of carrier craft, and as previously pointed out anyway, even fighters may be redundant with respect to potent drone-missiles. 

Beyond this, all interstellar combat will likely be MAD (mutually assured destruction); building a world-burning laser with interstellar range is probably more practical than amassing a large fleet, because once fired there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, and thus one can be assured that one's opponent will be obliterated in fairly short order. Simpler, if less effective, is to just construct a nuclear weapon of extraordinary power and ram it into a planet at relativistic speeds; this, too, is nearly impossible to defend against, and will likewise obliterate all life on that body. 

In short, capital ships are definitely impractical, and fighters possibly so; but it is more likely than anything that combat in space will simply not happen at all.

Edited by Three1415

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1 hour ago, Three1415 said:

Personally, I highly doubt that larger vessels will participate to any great extent in combat. With regards to the "bigger ships are faster" hypothesis, the square-cube law strikes again: Engine apertures (e.g, where the thrust itself is admitted) may only grow as the square of their scaling, while the engine's mass and volume will grow as the cube. While this may be offset by superior propulsion mechanisms, it will significantly diminish the advantage thereby generated.

Another square-cube factor to consider is the matter of heat dissipation; as ships grow larger, their surface-area-to-volume ratio necessarily diminishes, meaning that they will require enormous (and vulnerable) radiators to rid themselves of it. This also means it is likely that any high-energy weapons will be single-use only; it is much easier to have a disposable weapons system and make heat concerns irrelevant than it is to cool a megawatt laser or something similar, where even small conversion inefficiencies will compound the problem of heat generation. The above biases combat potential further towards fighters and smallcraft designs; they are better suited to both dissipate weapon heat and to fire disposable missiles or other weapons to that effect.

An additional problem is that, at the end of the day, larger ships are just better targets. Say a capital ship is x times larger than a fighter; then to dodge a weapon it must move a distance greater by that same factor, which, assuming both are capable of the same acceleration, means a x^1/2 longer (technically x^2/4, assuming the weapon is aimed at the center) dodge time. If you assume capital ships have proportionally thicker armor to "tank" these kinds of unavoidable hits, then they will be very slow indeed, and thus it will be only a matter of time before weapon fire grows sufficient to completely obliterate it. As made apparent by the Naval Battle Club threads, armor is largely ineffective against even kinetic energy weapons, much less nuclear-tipped weapons; what are you going to do against a tungsten rod capped with a 30 megaton warhead moving at 5 km/s?

The final nail in the coffin is Lancaster's Law, which states that for ranged combat an n^2 increase in quality (e.g, armor, weapons, etc.) is proportional to only an n increase in number of opponents, and thus it will be vastly more effective to have a swarm of small ships than several big ones. As such, there is no real reason to utilize large vessels outside of carrier craft, and as previously pointed out anyway, even fighters may be redundant with respect to potent drone-missiles. 

Beyond this, all interstellar combat will likely be MAD (mutually assured destruction); building a world-burning laser with interstellar range is probably more practical than amassing a large fleet, because once fired there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it, and thus one can be assured that one's opponent will be obliterated in fairly short order. Simpler, if less effective, is to just construct a nuclear weapon of extraordinary power and ram it into a planet at relativistic speeds; this, too, is nearly impossible to defend against, and will likewise obliterate all life on that body. 

In short, capital ships are definitely impractical, and fighters possibly so; but it is more likely than anything that combat in space will simply not happen at all.

These are basically all wrong.

1.  A spaceship can have any arbitrary geometry, it doesn't need to be shaped any particular way.  Thrust isn't proportional to engine aperture either, it's proportional to mass flow * exhaust velocity.  The type of engine I am talking about, the thrust plume is a narrow beam traveling at several % of the speed of light.  It's the helium nuclei right off a fusion reaction, redirected into a beam.   The actual thrust developed is so low that the ship only accelerates at 0.01 G or so, very light.  The ship can be shaped like a thin pencil made of girders, it does not need to resemble anything you have seen in sci-fi.  One strategy might be to put the main engine on a kind of rail car so you can move it around for various missions requirements, so you can face the narrow end of your ship at the enemy to minimize profile.

2.  Open cycle cooling is the worst kind and not practical for space for most situations.  Look up "droplet radiator" for an example of a practical closed cycle cooling method that can vent massive quantities of heat with only tiny losses of coolant.  

3.  A heavier ship relies on offense to protect itself, not defense.  It has very very long range laser weapons that can zap out of space smaller ships and incoming missiles and railgun rounds before they ever arrive.  It also might have it's own railgun/coilguns, and being heavier, can afford the mass of a much longer weapon that has a higher muzzle velocity and thus a further effective range.  The main "defense" is to either fire at the enemy laser emitters with your own lasers (since nobody can dodge a laser, even a space fighter, at realistic ranges) or fire at the incoming enemy kinetic rounds and missiles with your own guns and lasers to damage their propulsion.  Once the enemy projectiles can no longer maneuver, you just burn sideways so when they reach your ship they miss.

4.  Lancaster's law is from the age of non-computer assisted gunnery.  A swarm of small ships engaging a much heavier ship will not have an advantage if the total firepower of the small ship swarm is less than the large ship firepower, and if the large ship has high speed servos and computer assistance to rapidly change target.

Another thing is the large ship commander(s) have the initiative over smaller ships if they have more thrust and/or more dV at a given thrust level.  If their engine is significantly better, they can choose to engage the small ship fleet only a few members at a time, picking them off with laser fire.  Space fighters "chasing" will never catch up because they have more thrust.  (not that fighters are even practical)  

To be "swarmed" by attackers from all sides isn't going to happen like you describe for a lot of reasons, the main one being intercepting a vehicle by surrounding it requires more engine performance.

5.  A spaceship is to patrol the outer colonies, not to genocide entire countries or planets.  Interstellar warships are incredibly unlikely at all, so it's all interplanetary patrols.

Edited by SomeGuy123

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Use a gravity drive. Create an artifical gravity field around the ship, causing it to "fall" in whatever direction you want to travel. In which case it doesn't matter how big the ship is, because gravitational acceleration is independent of mass. Then the only important factor controlling your speed is the strength of the gravity field.

Just be CERTAIN the field is uniform--because if one part of the field is stronger than another.....well, let's just say the crew are not going to appreciate the results, which will be painful, gruesome, and really difficult to clean up.

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13 hours ago, SomeGuy123 said:

It's pretty much a trope of space opera that smaller space fighters are faster*.  This is generally true in Earth's atmosphere, because fast aircraft are extremely expensive and drag slows them down the larger they are.

But if you had a fusion engine, the bigger the engine is, the larger the internal core volume where the conditions permit fusion, and the smaller the mass ratio of magnets and other equipment relative to the power output of the engine.

Since a fusion exhaust engine just lets the hot plasma escape directly, as power output rises the mass of the equipment that handles the waste heat and so forth rises more slowly, because most of the heat and light reflects off other plasma and not off the engine walls.  

Allegedly, other effects related to fusion I don't know about make the power output scale with something like the fifth power of the radius of the reactor core.  

Anyways, at some point the scaling would stop because the engine core would be so hot that the engine walls would ablate away faster than you could practically repair or cool them.  

But that power level might require a truly gigantic engine.  Something massing thousands of tons.  Something so big and complex that after you add the warship's other systems - armor, weaponry, defense systems, sensors, propellant tanks - you might as well have a crew onboard because the mass of their accommodations isn't significant.  Also, there would be so many onboard systems to repair, and a trillion dollar asset like this would be best utilized if humans are onboard to optimize the decision making.  

Engines like I'm describing would still not be capable of all that much acceleration - maybe 1/100 of a G?  It wouldn't be much, even with a power output measurable in terawatts.  So crew would have no trouble with the forces.

Space fighters, psh.  Capital ships all the way.

*By faster I mean more acceleration at high ISP.  This means the warship with the bigger, more efficient engine is much harder to hit with missiles because it can choose to run away if too many missiles for it to shoot them all down are launched at it.  Since the missiles have to be small to be cost effective, their engines have to be inefficient, so even if they have higher peak acceleration, at longer ranges they will run out of fuel before they ever reach their target, assuming the target is running away at maximum burn.  Fusion engines have enough ISP to burn for days.  The warship with the better engine also gets to decide the terms of it's encounters and can run down ships with smaller engines at will.

the 747 one of the largest passenger ac has one of the longest glide of any coomercial ac. There are many things that go into drag, jet versus turbo fan, wing loading, air control surfaces, speed, altitude, pressure, temperature. At higher velocites mach effects on parts of the aircraft, .... 

My opinion, and only opinion, is that the first interstellar craft will be an asteroid sized object, the benefit of which will be to maintain genetic diversity of the colonizers, since outside of modern day fatasies there is a glass ceiling for speed which ultimately is independent of weight (once your out of the inner. solar system surface area for solar energy ceases to be a significant factor), but the marginal ability for any collection of biotes is going to be dependent on space that will be tolerant of micronutrient cycling.... biote> waste> composte > micronutient and gases> phototrophe>>biote. All of this requires space, a power suppy, and currently orange and blue leds and the capacity to make both. If your biotes are living the entire trip:

t = d/speed  following the 2n rule popsize should follow generations. we can rewrite our equation.

 

unit of t = gen = 22 year 

therefore unit of d = x * 22 ly this will drive the physicist nutty but if we express speed in c then it becomes the proportion y of c.

t = x / y and population size should be safely a multiple of 2t say 16t 

So lets say are target novaterra is  150 ly and speed is .01c, x = 150/22 = 6.5. 6.5 / 0.01 = 650. And we round off the population size 10000 inds. every ind needs 100 cubic meteres os space (This includes the power plant, radiators, food production, recreation, resource regeneration, radiation deflectors. Lets say the density of the vessel is 0.1. So the volumn is roughly 1000000 cubic meters or .1 km by 1 km by .1km in size. its mass would be 100,000,000 kg. 

The base assumption here is that a viable fusion power will develope that is permessive of recyclable operation for 15000 years. Technically its a fantastic feat, it would mean wer could create perfect recycling and one machine could make any number of things, including itself. 

 

Not really concerned about warmachines. chasing sublumial craft through interstellar space is a futile occupation. 

Edited by PB666

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22 minutes ago, PB666 said:

My opinion, and only opinion, is that the first interstellar craft will be an asteroid sized object, the benefit of which will be to maintain genetic diversity of the colonizers, since outside of modern day fatasies there is a glass ceiling for speed which ultimately is independent of weight (once your out of the inner. solar system surface area for solar energy ceases to be a significant factor),

That's an abysmal cliche.  Whoever came up with it failed out of engineering school and or should have their PhD revoked.

Instead of just parroting them, try to think about it.  What is an asteroid?

It's an amalgamation of a piece of planetary core.  

What do you need to build a starship?  A massive collection of discrete parts.

What's the problem with a starship?  The problem is even if you push the most esoteric drive system to the absolute limits (antimatter-pion ftw), you have low acceleration, spending years to centuries getting up to speed, and you need most of your ship to be antimatter fuel to reach a reasonable speed.

Do you ever under any circumstances want to have anything but a machine built to exacting standards, down to microns of tolernance, even atomically precise components, for a vehicle you want to send to another star, loaded down with thousands of tons of antimatter fuel?  Say with some random rocks that you haven't manufactured into precision components?

That's why asteroids as a starship are horrible.  Can you find any actual PhD scientists recommending this?  I know sci-fi authors have, and those authors are idiots.

As for needing a fusion reactor to run for thousands of years...why?  Antimatter is much more energy dense, and you would be continually remanufacturing the ship with brand new parts.  You wouldn't "run" anything for thousands of years, per say, everything would be newly manufactured.

Edited by SomeGuy123

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2 hours ago, SomeGuy123 said:

That's an abysmal cliche.  Whoever came up with it failed out of engineering school and or should have their PhD revoked.

Instead of just parroting them, try to think about it.  What is an asteroid?

It's an amalgamation of a piece of planetary core.  

What do you need to build a starship?  A massive collection of discrete parts.

What's the problem with a starship?  The problem is even if you push the most esoteric drive system to the absolute limits (antimatter-pion ftw), you have low acceleration, spending years to centuries getting up to speed, and you need most of your ship to be antimatter fuel to reach a reasonable speed.

Do you ever under any circumstances want to have anything but a machine built to exacting standards, down to microns of tolernance, even atomically precise components, for a vehicle you want to send to another star, loaded down with thousands of tons of antimatter fuel?  Say with some random rocks that you haven't manufactured into precision components?

That's why asteroids as a starship are horrible.  Can you find any actual PhD scientists recommending this?  I know sci-fi authors have, and those authors are idiots.

As for needing a fusion reactor to run for thousands of years...why?  Antimatter is much more energy dense, and you would be continually remanufacturing the ship with brand new parts.  You wouldn't "run" anything for thousands of years, per say, everything would be newly manufactured.

asteroid sized, its not a cliche its my opinion and only my opinion. To be a cliche you have tomcare what other people think on the subject, i don't. 

Edited by PB666

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If Bob is armed with invincible dreadnoughts, why Alice should vainly attack them?
She would attack what's behind these monsters: bases, cargo ships, so on.
While Bob's dreadnought massacres one place, Alice's kamikadze torpedo boats do this with several others.

So, those Bob's monsterships would be quickly replaced with medium-sized destroyers, and also Alice does the same.
As a result, there should be established a parity:
- medium-sized destroyers which hardly can (but can) intercept this swarm of enemy minions (missiles and boats)
vs
- rockets which hardly can (but can) hit those destroyers

This gives a wide diversity of tactics and enahncement strategies.
Also, nobody prohibits to have a planetkilla-supercharge on every destroyer - just for lulz.

 

 

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17 hours ago, Nuke said:

i think its more about the overall ship mass than just the power to weight ratio of the engine. a big capital ship is going to have a lot of other heavy things in it, armaments, cargo, fuel, crew facilities, repair and maintenance facilities, perhaps some medical and science facilities as well and of course places to store, launch and maintain fighters (battlestar galactica seems to allocate a lot of ship mass to that job). the fighter in comparison is really just going to have bare minimum life support, some weapons, and an engine and fuel. so even though it has a highly inefficient engine with a poor twr, that engine doesnt have to push around very much else.

star trek is kind of an exception i suppose. there are little ships but they arent capable of warp 9+. as a result you dont see much use of small craft except as shuttles. there have been a couple episodes where fighters were shown, but most of the space battles seem to occur starship to starship. now that i think about it trek space battles are kind of boring and very unrealistic militarily speaking (ignoring all the other more obvious technobabble handwavery). the real irony though is that it gets it right that fighters are mostly not neccisary.

Space is probably more like the sea, no planes stay at air in more than an day.(yes it's a few exceptions) But engine size and life support put restrains, fuel/ weight is also an issue.

Its still an upper size of practical warships. They are single targets and price goes up as size increase and you need multiple ships to control areas benefit of size also tapper off as ship get real big. 

Something like an fighter jet in space makes no sense, too cramped and too short range, think minimum ship would be more like an missile torpedo boat. 2-4 man crew and an living quarter enough for an pretty long time. it would both be able to operate independently and control weapons launched from larger ships. 
Now unlike on sea its pretty easy to dock it to an capital ship for long missions and you benefit from better engines and better life support. My guess is that this shuttle sized ship would be called fighters. 
 


 

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This was exactly how the ships in original Star Trek worked. Roddenberry wanted capital ship combat instead of swarms of fighters, so designed his universe so larger ships would always be both faster and more maneuverable. The effectiveness of both warp drive and the inertial dampers were directly related to how much power the ship's reactors could produce.

But after he died, they turned this, like nearly everything else, upside down for DS9. Some good plotlines in DS9, but they totally threw out the rules on how the ST universe worked.

 

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19 hours ago, Three1415 said:

The final nail in the coffin is Lancaster's Law, which states that for ranged combat an n^2 increase in quality (e.g, armor, weapons, etc.) is proportional to only an n increase in number of opponents, and thus it will be vastly more effective to have a swarm of small ships than several big ones. As such, there is no real reason to utilize large vessels outside of carrier craft, and as previously pointed out anyway, even fighters may be redundant with respect to potent drone-missiles. 

 

Lanchester's Square Law doesn't apply at all to modern combat! Quoting Wikipedia: "It only works where each unit (soldier, ship, etc.) can kill only one equivalent unit at a time. For this reason, the law does not apply to machine guns, artillery, or nuclear weapons." The only such unit in use today would be a lone MP armed with a handgun, and they operate in pairs.

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On 12/31/2015 at 8:59 PM, SomeGuy123 said:

That's why asteroids as a starship are horrible.  Can you find any actual PhD scientists recommending this?  I know sci-fi authors have, and those authors are idiots.

Well, just off the top of my head, there would be Dr. Robert Forward, James Hogan, and Dr. Jerry Pournelle. Are those the idiots you're feeling superior to?

Edited by Beowolf
Oops, Hogan wasn't a Dr.

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18 hours ago, SomeGuy123 said:

That's an abysmal cliche.  Whoever came up with it failed out of engineering school and or should have their PhD revoked.

Instead of just parroting them, try to think about it.  What is an asteroid?

It's an amalgamation of a piece of planetary core.  

What do you need to build a starship?  A massive collection of discrete parts.

What's the problem with a starship?  The problem is even if you push the most esoteric drive system to the absolute limits (antimatter-pion ftw), you have low acceleration, spending years to centuries getting up to speed, and you need most of your ship to be antimatter fuel to reach a reasonable speed.

Do you ever under any circumstances want to have anything but a machine built to exacting standards, down to microns of tolernance, even atomically precise components, for a vehicle you want to send to another star, loaded down with thousands of tons of antimatter fuel?  Say with some random rocks that you haven't manufactured into precision components?

That's why asteroids as a starship are horrible.  Can you find any actual PhD scientists recommending this?  I know sci-fi authors have, and those authors are idiots.

As for needing a fusion reactor to run for thousands of years...why?  Antimatter is much more energy dense, and you would be continually remanufacturing the ship with brand new parts.  You wouldn't "run" anything for thousands of years, per say, everything would be newly manufactured.

Antimatter is far more expensive and difficult to make- most ships would likely use fusion, unless speed is a necessity, and there is enough money to do so.

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lessons learned when fusion becomes practical will be able to be directly applied to antimatter containment. by then it might be practical to produce anti matter in large quantities. i just dont want to live anywhere near the antimatter factory.

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