Souper

Interstellar War

Recommended Posts

Sol and Alpha Centauri duke it out in the 31st century. No other colonized systems because magic radiation stops them. No FTL. Systems are completely colonized and exploited. War is to the death. How is the war fought? Who wins?

Edited by Souper

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
26 minutes ago, Souper said:

Sol and Alpha Centauri duke it out in the 31st century. No other colonized systems because magic radiation stops them. No FTL. Systems are completely colonized and exploited. War is to the death. How is the war fought? Who wins?

It's fought very slowly. Nobody wins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Both use several millennia to build billions of huge nuclear bombs with cobolt and other dirty materials. Finally, about in 125th century first bombs begin to hit targets and bombing continues couple of millennia. Both have some defense systems but they are far from perfect and billions of bombs go through. Both civilizations and artificial biospheres are destroyed and all megafauna are extinct. Insects win at Earth and similar small animals at Alpha Centauri and they begin to develop larger and more intelligent until after 539 million years there are interstellar war, episode 2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well one answer is that it would be a war-as-we-know-it-kind-of but on a colossal scale. Large weapons/fleets, long engagement times, huge destructive effects.

But war is a societal concept as much as a technological one.

Without FTL, a single engagement could take most of a persons career and the war itself is likely to have a lifespan longer than most people, possibly significantly longer.

Communication with the enemy would also take a long time, in other words it would take a long time even to realise that you were having a disagreement at all. How do negotiations works when in between question-response each party has time to go off, have kids and have sent them to school before being able to see an answer?

How does a war like that even start? (Though Im sure we could manage it if we put our minds to it).

***

It also strongly depends on the flavour of "non-FTL" that you choose. Are we talking generation ships where your grandkids have to be the ones to pull the trigger on that mission that you started out on a hundred years ago? Or are we talking 0.99c ships where young people come back from a 10 year mission having only experienced 2 weeks?

What effect these factors haves on a population's "will to fight" I cannot say, but it will be significant Im sure.

How does this affect communication? In the latter example, your fastest communications only travel slightly faster than your forces. This makes surprise easier to achieve (because a warning could only possibly arrive just before the effect) but also coordination more difficult. This is also true of political communications as well as tactical considerations.

I dont think there has been a conflict on this earth where that has been true (comms only slightly faster than forces) since someone trained a bird to carry a message. Is it possible that our truly devastating conflicts only became possible when this happened? Is it possible that with such little difference between communication speed and force projection speed, that large scale conflict is supressed?

***

So, IMHO, considering the weapons systems and timescales is like describing the Gulf War by saying "We'd use troops and tanks". In other words, its only a very, very small percentage of the overall picture.

***

1 hour ago, KSK said:

It's fought very slowly. Nobody wins.

I dunno. Given the timescales and distances, it could be over in one mission. It could be over before the losing side-to-be even knows it is at war. It could be as one-sided as zero casualties for the winner vs. total loss of the biosphere of their opponents planet.

Edited by p1t1o

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Large Relativistic Kinetic Kill Vehicle salvos. It's nearly impossible to conquer other star systems, so prep Exterminatus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After developing FTL, develop time travel and eradicate the enemy with a bioweapon when they are at the protozoic stage.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, p1t1o said:

*lots of good stuff*

It also strongly depends on the flavour of "non-FTL" that you choose. Are we talking generation ships where your grandkids have to be the ones to pull the trigger on that mission that you started out on a hundred years ago? Or are we talking 0.99c ships where young people come back from a 10 year mission having only experienced 2 weeks?

What effect these factors haves on a population's "will to fight" I cannot say, but it will be significant Im sure.

How does this affect communication? In the latter example, your fastest communications only travel slightly faster than your forces. This makes surprise easier to achieve (because a warning could only possibly arrive just before the effect) but also coordination more difficult. This is also true of political communications as well as tactical considerations.

Good analysis - much better than my glib one-liner. If we're talking about a war to the death though, I don't think either side would bother with crewed vessels. It's not as if taking and holding territory is going to be a concern, or even particularly feasible with a 4 light year logistics chain. Which is another reason why this set up doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

For a war to the death, I'm assuming that having a more or less intact planet left at the end of the engagement would be a bonus. Objective of the war - exterminate every last enemy combatant and non-combatant, leaving a more or less intact planet to clean up and occupy. In that case, the weapon of choice becomes WMD (whether that be neutron bombs, chemical or biological warfare agents) delivered by uncrewed drone of some sort.

Better make sure we use a vast excess of drones though - we may only get one shot at this. So we're basically down to MAD gone wrong, conducted at interstellar scales. How long that takes is down to available propulsion systems, which haven't been specified.

Assuming that our drones can get through the magic radiation of course. *rolls eyes*

 

11 minutes ago, Nibb31 said:

After developing FTL, develop time travel and eradicate the enemy with a bioweapon when they are at the protozoic stage.

Meh - have you no sense of style? There's bound to be a key political figure somewhere that you could eliminate with a cyborg assassin. Bonus points if it talks with an Austrian accent.

Edited by KSK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
19 minutes ago, KSK said:

Meh - have you no sense of style? There's bound to be a key political figure somewhere that you could eliminate with a cyborg assassin. Bonus points if it talks with an Austrian accent.

Wherever you find cyborg assassins, you also find plucky resistance fighters with ungodly amounts of luck. Its a catch-22.

And god help you if one of them is a teenager.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We send Daedalus. It comes in peace.

Spoiler

450 tonnes of love and friendship at 0.1 c

100-Year-Starship-project-1-640x474.jpg

Or 100-kg carbon rods at 0.5 c accelerated by a huge near-Sun laser and their solar sails, as in "Rose and Worm".

3 hours ago, p1t1o said:

Are we talking generation ships where your grandkids have to be the ones to pull the trigger on that mission that you started out on a hundred years ago?

It's a great idea for sci-fi.
Fourth generation of mad assassins possessed with the conquest idea, whose ancestors were sent to capture the Alpha Centauri are training all the day long inside a grim starship.
At last they arrive to the destination point, get out from the ship, see the ET civilization full of humanoid creatures, get shocked and...

Spoiler

blow this up and eradicate everybody!!11oneone 

Was nearly twice in Metal Hurlant Chronicles.

2 hours ago, p1t1o said:

And god help you if one of them is a teenager.

Not in The 100 series or Game of Thrones.

Edited by kerbiloid

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

blow this up and eradicate everybody!!11oneone 

Was nearly twice in Metal Hurlant Chronicles.

Not in The 100 series or Game of Thrones.

Born+raised in the 80's-90's on Spielberg, the child always saves the day.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The war isn't fought. Both sides analyze the situation. The colonies in each system are too spread out in their orbits, and the cylinders used by both sides as residency are even more spread out. The only useful weapon, relativistic kill vehicles, can't possibly aim at such small targets from light years away, and their enormous velocity means it's very difficult to change velocity like a heat sinking missile. Slow boat attacks carrying troops won't work either, because the defending system has a huge array of lasers either used for propulsion or for beamed power. Just so happens they work good for defense. Both solar systems reason that it's not worth it in the slightest. Peace prevails. Because it's not mutually assured destruction. You just can't invade the enemy system.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

0.5c flyby of target system, (don't bother slowing down, it just lets them know where you are). on the way through, use a rail gun to decelerate small 1 or 2 gram packages of nanites into intercept orbits with pretty much anything you can see. Hundreds of them. Then watch them devour every scrap of matter in sight.

 

Or, just fire off a trio of similar sized anti-matter pellets (delivery vehicle tbd) aimed to encounter the sun at 120° intervals about its equator. Just blast the whole inner system with gamma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best rhetoricians and psychologists from either civilization gather and create a dazzling multi-media-package which is beamed to the other system and spammed on all channels. The winner is the side that manages to convince the other not to go to war, and who find the best compromise to defuse the entire situation at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, DDE said:

Large Relativistic Kinetic Kill Vehicle salvos. It's nearly impossible to conquer other star systems, so prep Exterminatus.

True with a caveat. "Large" salvos are only needed to the extent you have large numbers of targets, or to the extent the vehicles are not terribly relativistic. If the goal is destruction, however, you need only hit the appropriate planets with enough KE to matter. If you launch them with mere hyperbolic velocities, vs a decent fraction of c, then while it might take a long, long time, success is guaranteed, even if the other side were to kill you first, they are not stopping your few small asteroid chunks moving at 100 km/s, even. By the time they detect them, it will be too late.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sol wins. With billions (Perhaps trillions.) of people already living within the Sol system, And a massive established infrastructure. Not to mention eight (or nine) full fledged planet's and a plethora of moons while the Alpha Centauri System is only known to have two planets.

 

On April 15 3049 a fleet of teraton nuclear weapons are launched into a Terran Lagrange point and deploy massive sails. One by one a massive mirror and lens complex in hyper low orbit around the Sun, Focus their beams on the sails. Accelerating each one with 100% accuracy (Thanks to hours of calculation via Quantum Computer.) to a velocity of .99c each one heading towards a different planet or moon within the enemy system. Once at full velocity, The missiles retract their sails (to avoid detection.) and extend an electromagnetic shield to protect them from interstellar particles.

FOUR YEARS LATER: The missiles enter the Alpha Centauri system and are detected by LIDAR. The Centaurans have only minutes to respond and manage to evacuate several thousand people on numerous small ships. In the final moments. A missile of their own is launched. Toward Earth. A final move by the defeated player. Just as the ships clear their planet's the missiles hit their marks. Going at .99c and carrying a teraton yield, The resulting detonation shatters both planets and several moons. The Evac fleet barely survives the resulting hellstorm and make it to a nearby asteroid terrarium where they maintain complete radio silence and rebuild their forces.

FOUR YEARS LATER: The Centauran missile impact's the Earth, Destroying the entire planet and killing it's entire population of 20 Billion. Orbitals and Lunarian's watch in horror as their birthplace shatters into a cloud of dust. Luckily the colonies had long since become self sufficient. But the effects of this tragedy rippled outwards throughout the Sol system, Unaware of their government's secret attack on Alpha Centauri due to an elaborate coverup, The Kuipers (a dissident faction of miners in the outer Kuiper belt.) are blamed for the attack and  are brutally purged from the solar system. The panic allows an extremist leader to take power with full military control. He immediately abolishes the United-Planets and replaces it with a dictatorship known as the "United Empire". Then he reveals that the "Magic Radiation" had all been a hoax perpetrated by the previous government to cover up the existence of a hostile Alien race blockading human territory. Declaring that he will "Purge the galaxy" and launches a military campaign against the Aliens.

And so the galactic war began, Along with the ascension of the Eternal Empire. And the conquest of the universe in the name of the God-Emperor.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A 1000-t relativistic package propelled with solar laser+sail, splitting into myriads of tiny rods.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, DDE said:

Large Relativistic Kinetic Kill Vehicle salvos. It's nearly impossible to conquer other star systems, so prep Exterminatus.

 

1 hour ago, tater said:

True with a caveat. "Large" salvos are only needed to the extent you have large numbers of targets, or to the extent the vehicles are not terribly relativistic. If the goal is destruction, however, you need only hit the appropriate planets with enough KE to matter. If you launch them with mere hyperbolic velocities, vs a decent fraction of c, then while it might take a long, long time, success is guaranteed, even if the other side were to kill you first, they are not stopping your few small asteroid chunks moving at 100 km/s, even. By the time they detect them, it will be too late.

 

49 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

A 1000-t relativistic package propelled with solar laser+sail, splitting into myriads of tiny rods.

 

The only defence against a RKV is to pre-emptively exterminate any civilisation which has the capability to build one.

Greg Bears "Anvil of the stars"/"Forge of God" book pair dedals with this concept, although with a slightly different weapon (Von Neumann weapons).

As in, as soon as you get word that the folks at Alpha Centauri have the technology to launch an RKV, let alone build one, you launch yours. Its the only way to guarantee survival, boiling it down to an arms race.

Downside - your action will be visible for light years, advertising yourself as someone very much worth exterminating (not only do you prove you have RKV capability, you prove you have the will to actually use it).

So the other option is civilisational stealth, which as you can imagine, has its problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, p1t1o said:

So the other option is civilisational stealth

Use SETI antennas to

Spoiler

translate Ivstinvs Bibero to demoralize them?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kerbiloid said:

Use SETI antennas to

  Reveal hidden contents

translate Ivstinvs Bibero to demoralize them?

 

You think that wont bring sterilising fire?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Look at the speed of military tech development during the last "do or die" war (WW2). If you in any way telegraph your intent to fight - i.e. not a complete surprise attack the defender will have at least 4 years to plan. Not saying the defenders would get by without a scratch, but that's a heck of a long time if almost all resources are devoted to protecting against the inbound attack.

Imagine if Pearl Harbor happened with 1941 Japanese tech against 1945 US tech - and the US was forewarned. Even if that warning was only hours.

Most likely success would be stealthed ballistic projectiles as mentioned by several others above. Nukes or Fusion bombs would be totally superfluous if they're on an impacter moving at any appreciable percentage of lightspeed..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most tech used by the US during WW2 was in fact developed before the war. Almost everything except the Bomb, in fact. That said, the Japanese attack was partially because of telegraphing the future on the part of the US as you suggest. The IJN abrogates the Washington Treaty, and the US responded with a new naval building program, set to hit stride in 1943. The Japanese knew this (they need only read the papers to see exactly which hulls were planned), and so they threw the dice on the Pacific War figuring that a 10% chance of winning (that's the estimate the IGHQ made) now, beat a 0% chance after 1943.

I really don't see much possibility of defeating a "throwing rocks" offense if those KE weapons can be given any substantial velocity at all. Such a defense requires (assuming each projectile represents an extinction event level impact) 100% interception.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, p1t1o said:

As in, as soon as you get word that the folks at Alpha Centauri have the technology to launch an RKV, let alone build one, you launch yours. Its the only way to guarantee survival, boiling it down to an arms race.

And then hope that the threat of total annihilation doesn't unite them into finishing that RKV in four years and lobbing one right back at the brutes who're going to wipe them out?

 

Edited for language. Incidentally 'stand up guys' has to be the silliest euphemism for bad language since 'melon farmers'. 

Edited by KSK

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course either side could send some sort of welcoming message, and follow up with an Orion looking spacecraft (visible from a long way away, clearly), where the spacecraft is in fact a kinetic kill vehicle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.