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U.S. Space Force Discussion Thread


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Alright, I'll bite.

It might not be practical in today's level of technology to mount weapons on satellites to attack ground targets. However, space still plays a very important role in warfare. One of the most popular precision guided weapons used by the USA is the GPS guided bomb known as the JDAM. Destroying military GPS satellites has important strategic value, as does destroying spy satellites performing reconnaissance from space, and destroying communications links that the USA might use for everything from ground troops to unmanned aerial systems. How about satellite-based early warning systems that detect ICBM launches? Or satellites that detect nuclear detonations?

Ergo, satellites have military value and also anti-satellite missiles or ground-based anti-satellite lasers have strategic value.

Looking forward into the further future, there are already companies aiming to develop technology for asteroid mining. There are metallic asteroids rich in rare platinum-group metals estimated to be worth quadrillions of dollars. If humans from 1st world countries can fight over something as stupid as a handful of tiny uninhabited islands (see Senkaku Islands dispute) then I argue it's only a matter of time before a disagreement over a valuable asteroid erupts in armed conflict in space. Like "hey we claimed this asteroid 3 years ago when we announced we were building and launching this space mining rig, move your spaceship aside or we'll send up a ship and make you move."

We've had a military organization dedicated to the exploitation of space for military purposes since 1982. It's called Air Force Space Command. Founding the Space Force is basically a re-org and also an acknowledgement of its importance. That said, if I were to have a fantasy about an ideal future, we wouldn't need to militarize space, and wouldn't need to have a military at all, or at least would only need a very tiny one for humanitarian reasons. But we don't live in that world, so meh...

And if I'm being honest, I think "Space Force" sounds cartoonishly stupid, like something a 10 year old would come up with. I can just see him excitedly jumping up and down, proclaiming, "Dad! DAD! Wouldn't it be so cool, if we put these big LASERS on transformers that fly through space and shoot missiles at bad guys!? I would call it SPACE FORCE!"

Edited by Xavven
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24 minutes ago, Xavven said:

And if I'm being honest, I think "Space Force" sounds cartoonishly stupid, like something a 10 year old would come up with. I can just see him excitedly jumping up and down, proclaiming, "Dad! DAD! Wouldn't it be so cool, if we put these big LASERS on transformers that fly through space and shoot missiles at bad guys!? I would call it SPACE FORCE!"

As opposed to "Air Force"?

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8 hours ago, kerbiloid said:

Then they should name it Air & Airless Force.

Voidsmen, sound off!

11 hours ago, Xavven said:

as does destroying spy satellites performing reconnaissance from space

Let me just add this article:

https://thespacereview.com/article/3927/1

11 hours ago, Xavven said:

Looking forward into the further future, there are already companies aiming to develop technology for asteroid mining. There are metallic asteroids rich in rare platinum-group metals estimated to be worth quadrillions of dollars. If humans from 1st world countries can fight over something as stupid as a handful of tiny uninhabited islands (see Senkaku Islands dispute) then I argue it's only a matter of time before a disagreement over a valuable asteroid erupts in armed conflict in space. Like "hey we claimed this asteroid 3 years ago when we announced we were building and launching this space mining rig, move your spaceship aside or we'll send up a ship and make you move."

It's a lot more immediate than that. The old SDI funded Clementine to seek out water on the Moon in order to secure a propellant source for space-based missile defence operations.

11 hours ago, Xavven said:

And if I'm being honest, I think "Space Force" sounds cartoonishly stupid, like something a 10 year old would come up with. I can just see him excitedly jumping up and down, proclaiming, "Dad! DAD! Wouldn't it be so cool, if we put these big LASERS on transformers that fly through space and shoot missiles at bad guys!? I would call it SPACE FORCE!"

Agreed. The organization's stated goals always made 'Orbit Guard' vastly more appealing.

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1 hour ago, kerbiloid said:

Wasn't sure if this belongs to this thread, "upcoming movies", or SLS (they launch SLS), but definitely not to the "bad science in sci-fi" as it's a comedy.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9612516/

One would argue that it would belong in this thread, as that series is based on the new Space Force. Glad you brought it to our attention; now we have a new Netflix series to look forward to.

Spoiler

And it's starring the man who stole the moon.

 

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We have all heard of Kesslar Syndrome, haven't we?

There can never be a battle in space. If there ever is we will probably not be able to utilise space around Earth any more and trying to launch something past the massive and growing amount of debris would probably be impossible.

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Meanwhile the Army and Navy may get ramjets of their own.  

 

 

As a US taxpayer, I have no problem shooting million dollar bullets like popcorn.  As long as our NATO allies give billions of dollars of research grants to companies as old as my long dead grandparents. ;)

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by farmerben
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10 hours ago, Toucan said:

We have all heard of Kesslar Syndrome, haven't we?

There can never be a battle in space. If there ever is we will probably not be able to utilise space around Earth any more and trying to launch something past the massive and growing amount of debris would probably be impossible.

What you haven't heard about Kessler Syndrome is that it's massively overblown. It's highly unlikely to ever occur and would only affect a specific set of orbits. This is only a concern with an orbit that's already extremely saturated. Space is big.

A space battle is unlikely to cause such a thing unless it took place inside a Starlink shell. Also, at the current tech level, we're looking at something similar to an ASAT shot. At higher tech levels, when spaceborne armor is practical, the ship will likely also be solid enough to mostly stay in nice, big pieces. Missed shots will tend to end up in weird orbits, if not ejected into solar orbit.

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5 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

What you haven't heard about Kessler Syndrome is that it's massively overblown. It's highly unlikely to ever occur and would only affect a specific set of orbits. This is only a concern with an orbit that's already extremely saturated. Space is big.

A space battle is unlikely to cause such a thing unless it took place inside a Starlink shell. Also, at the current tech level, we're looking at something similar to an ASAT shot. At higher tech levels, when spaceborne armor is practical, the ship will likely also be solid enough to mostly stay in nice, big pieces. Missed shots will tend to end up in weird orbits, if not ejected into solar orbit.

Not according to NASA that takes the problem very seriously.
"Spent rockets, satellites and other space trash have accumulated in orbit increasing the likelihood of collision with other debris. Unfortunately, collisions create more debris creating a runaway chain reaction of collisions and more debris known as the Kessler Syndrome after the man who first proposed the issue, Donald Kessler. It is also known as collisional cascading.
This cascade of collisions first came to NASAs attention in the 1970’s when derelict Delta rockets left in orbit began to explode creating shrapnel clouds. Kessler demonstrated that once the amount of debris in a particular orbit reaches critical mass, collision cascading begins even if no more objects are launched into the orbit. Once collisional cascading begins, the risk to satellites and spacecraft increases until the orbit is no longer usable.
Kessler proposed it would take 30 to 40 years for such a threshold to be reached and today, some experts thing we are already at critical mass in low-Earth orbit at about 560 to 620 miles (900 to 1,000 kilometers)."
https://www.nasa.gov/centers/wstf/site_tour/remote_hypervelocity_test_laboratory/micrometeoroid_and_orbital_debris.html

And yes, space is big. But unfortunately for us the Earth does not exist in all of space and compared to all of space the space around Earth is kind of finite. And the Kesslar syndrome model is based on accidental collisions.
If we start deliberately blowing things up deliberately the risk of cascade collisions become even higher.

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NASA takes it seriously because it doesn't take Kessler syndrome to damage the ISS, and moving that is a hassle. Debris are a problem, however note that the amount of debris in a particular orbit part. This is something that would affect a small volume of space. It's not all that difficult to simply avoid a particular set of orbits, unless it's something special like GEO, or if the orbit concerned has something that's not easily moved out of the way, like the ISS. It would certainly not prevent new space launches.

Moreover, if the space warships have decent engines, the battle will, because of all their out of plane dodging, inevitably end up in a rather funky orbit. In high orbits, in particular, even a small velocity change can change the opposite end by kilometers. On the other hand, in LEO, air is thick enough that things decay pretty quickly. 

Edited by Guest
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18 minutes ago, Dragon01 said:

It's not all that difficult to simply avoid a particular set of orbits, unless it's something special like GEO, or if the orbit concerned has something that's not easily moved out of the way, like the ISS. It would certainly not prevent new space launches.

So why did world renowned scientist and astrophysicist, Donald. J Kesslar's findings while studying with the resources of NORAD show otherwise?

Do you feel you have greater experience than him? What study is it do you think discredits his theories?






 

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They do not show otherwise, however they are widely misinterpreted by those attempting to summarize them. You yourself quoted the very line I referenced, and the "900 to 1000km" part should have given you a pause, and even that isn't accounting for inclination. It's not, and in a practical scenario, never will be, a shell of constant microdebris hell that would instantly shred everything attempting to pass through it. It's a volume of space, if you launch a satellite into an orbit that crosses it, will reliably cause it to fail within a very short time. It will eventually fall apart and contribute to the problem, and this will certainly make the orbit unusable, but you can't slice an MMOD blanket to ribbons with hypervelocity sand, since that's what it's meant to protect from.

We know how to deal with MMOD threat, otherwise every human spaceflight would be a Russian roulette. Remember that picture of the Shuttle with windshield cracked by a paint speck? Well, it completed its mission and got home safely. Everything we can't track, we can protect against, but only for so long, and not all components (solar panels are particularly vulnerable). That's what Kessler syndrome is about, not some kind of instant death zone for any and all spacecraft.

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On 5/30/2020 at 3:19 AM, farmerben said:

Meanwhile the Army and Navy may get ramjets of their own.

Miniaturized ramjets.

Other kinds of ramjets haven't been a problem for quite a while.

z_626cd3da.jpg

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On 5/30/2020 at 10:25 AM, Dragon01 said:

We know how to deal with MMOD threat, otherwise every human spaceflight would be a Russian roulette. Remember that picture of the Shuttle with windshield cracked by a paint speck? Well, it completed its mission and got home safely. Everything we can't track, we can protect against, but only for so long, and not all components (solar panels are particularly vulnerable). That's what Kessler syndrome is about, not some kind of instant death zone for any and all spacecraft.

My understanding is that the shuttle orbited the Earth with the windshield facing backward (they wouldn't need the main engines for the return, so it was safe to have them in the front).  Did they not start doing this until after they cracked the windshield?  It certainly didn't sound all that obvious when I first heard the shuttle orbited that way (probably long after it was grounded and I started playing KSP).

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Most of the time it did, but consider that sometimes it would have to adjust its attitude for various reasons. It orbited in whatever attitude it needed to, with no special considerations, this would be engines first. Also, the incident in question was on STS-7, so quite early in the program (so early that the Shuttle in question was Challenger).

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1 hour ago, Nothalogh said:

More like *angry Navy noises*

Useful for both, probably more for navy as space is an premium on ships and shells are much smaller than missiles.
On the other hand the army tend to shoot more is this times. 
Main benefit of long range shells is that you can hit far behind enemy lines or you can have fewer fire-bases in an low intensity war. 
For the navy its the stand off range, they want to be safe far out at sea. If you get closer to the coast you will draw fire from smaller and smaller systems like 155 mm artillery, tanks and anti tank missiles. You also have truck launched anti ship missiles with longer range. 

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I think Space Force is just a way to consolidate the whole space resource together - mostly remote-sensing apparatus (both space-based and ground-based) and maybe really long-range missiles (ICBM counts somewhat but only so much). I don't think they'd really launch someone into space, however if they ever would launch someone it'd be for research in the same manner as MOL. The whole thing has a lot more to do with multi-domain operations, perhaps.

It's only if and when we're ready to break the Outer Space Treaty would we start seeing troops in space.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/14/2020 at 4:45 AM, Spacescifi said:

 

Orbital weapons are mainly good for attacking incoming space fleets from other planets... which is a very dated idea by the way to assume aliens far more advanced than us would be vulnerable to our weapons in space at all, let alone even needing to do more than fly past and through weapon satelites without us ever knowing, laughing as they do.

I just want to address this concept of a space fairing race being impervious to our attacks. An old bullet can still cause new wounds. In fact: An arrow shot from a bow will penetrate body armor; And so it reasons that a 1st Century Archer is still a lethal threat to a soldier of the 21st Century. Not an equal threat, obviously, but a threat. Like-wise, as far as any of us can tell, any alien race that visits Earth will be subject to thermodynamics, momentum, and the rest, and so it reasons a bullet (or 6,000 rounds per minute from a dozen CIWS turrets backed by a liberal amount of AIM-120's) will still kill them.

Edited by WestAir
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