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The Death Of The Heavy Scifi Battle Spaceship


Spacescifi
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In fiction, the author defines the laws of the universe to suit the story.

In historic fiction or hard sci-fi, most of the changes are social rather than playing around with physical laws.

On the other hand, if the author wants giant transforming humanoid mecha spamming missiles, then they add some sort of change that makes such things practical(reflex technology in the case of Robotech/Macross for example).

If the Author wants fireball spells, dragons, and magic swords, then they add Magic to the mix.

In short, you identify what you want for your story, then choose if you want to just hand-wave it into existence with no explanation, create a cultural or technobabble reason for what you want, or use existing period-appropriate technologies(does not work beyond technologies currently in-use).  Anything else is pretending expertise and foreknowledge that you do not have and which will be transparently stupid to those who know better.  For examples look at the science fiction hall of shame thread.

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6 hours ago, SOXBLOX said:

I could *maybe* see this in a defense scenario. These fighters/corvettes (how small, exactly?) hang out around an outpost, or whatever. They can patrol a planet's gravity well, or maybe even a star system.

But you cannot convince me any sane military would send swarms of fighters on an interstellar offensive. Even if they can carry a warp drive, be fitted with suitable sensors and computer banks, be equipped with enough weapons to fight until they are resupplied, and accommodate their crew properly, they won't have any inherent advantages over probably more capable medium-sized ships. And larger ships.

Some great reading here. Also here.

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And if you decide not to work, either A) you will be shot at the order of the Emperor Party Leader, or B) the rest of the workforce will follow suit, and you will all starve. Together, though. 

 

My comments assumed that it was humans vs. humans, probably with existing nations, or new nations that maintain the desire for peace [among the great powers] that arose after World War II.

So it would be limited to the solar system at most. Defensive weapons *should* be all the two factions ever need. And the small fighters, assuming very high-tech levels per the OP's scenario (with warp drives) should be good enough for most operations.

1 hour ago, Codraroll said:

The "missiles miss but come back to try again" trope really needs to die.

For a missile to be capable of doing that, it needs to pack three times as much delta-V into it as it really requires. 1x to go from zero to impact speed, another 1x to cancel out its relative velocity away from the target after the miss, and another 1x to get back to impact speed in the right direction. Plus, you need to outfit the missile (which by its very nature is throwaway) with the capability to flip, reignite, calculate a new approach trajectory, and other costly and complicating features. All to handle the eventuality of the missile missing its target, which, y'know, shouldn't be the eventuality that guides your design. If the missiles are so poor they miss their targets often enough to need to be designed around it, gearing them up for another shot probably won't improve their odds all that much. If the foe can dodge once, they can dodge twice, and missiles aren't known for their excessive reserves of delta-V. They can't keep flipping and retrying forever.

And if you make the missiles good enough to usually hit their target on the first try, outfitting them with flip-and-retry capability would involve throwing away a lot of unneeded delta-V and fancy guidance systems. That makes the missiles more expensive and bigger than they need to be. That money and weapons bay space could probably be better used by having two simpler missiles instead of one fancy one.

Of course, if multiple-use warp drives are cheap enough that you can keep installing them on what is effectively fireworks, it may be a viable tactic to build a missile that keeps harassing its target until it eventually hits. But one would think an adversary capable of multiple missile dodges would have some way to permanently disable enemy missiles too.

I don't think the authors of such works can be blamed too much. In real life most modern torpedoes have re-attack capability, and a lot of space sci-fi combat works are heavily influenced by real life naval operations (for example, in Star Wars destroyers and cruisers are rarely seen fighting each other "in 3D", they behave as if they were on the water or in atmosphere).

So from a pure art perspective it isn't a problem. Now for a realism based discussion like this is apparently supposed to be, I agree.

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6 minutes ago, SunlitZelkova said:

My comments assumed that it was humans vs. humans, probably with existing nations, or new nations that maintain the desire for peace [among the great powers] that arose after World War II.

So it would be limited to the solar system at most. Defensive weapons *should* be all the two factions ever need. And the small fighters, assuming very high-tech levels per the OP's scenario (with warp drives) should be good enough for most operations.

In other words, you assume they would never actually be used to fight a war? If you want to win, you need offensive weapons.

Also, did you read the pages I linked? Atomic Rockets goes verrrry deep on this, and concludes space fighters are quite useless. The stuff on fleet composition is definitely relevant, too.

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20 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

 

This is what happens when you do not  have (or do not want to use) inertial dampners in a scifi setting.

 

Warp is NOT acceleration, so it does not require inertial dampeners.

 

At a light second away a heavy ship is more doomed than not.

 

They would have to rely on forward scouts before moving on places or they could get wrecked.

i think you end up getting to a point where even smaller ships are incapable of evading the warp missile (as described).  i think you would be better off putting a few limits on the missiles. 

perhaps they require their host ship's sensors and computers to plot the relativistic targeting solution in near real time, effectively "painting the target". light delay between the launching ship and the missile itself would then be a factor to consider. so evading the missile would involve putting distance between you and the ship to increase the sensor lag. alternatively you can go for the ship and try to take it out first so its missile doesn't know what to do with itself.

even if the missile has its own guidance suite, distance between the target and the missile is going to have light delay. so depending on distance you have a bit of a blind spot in which to maneuver without the warhead knowing what you are doing. employing some deception tactics and decoy tech, like ecm or sensor spoofing or jamming. either blind it or make the missile think you warped off in one direction while you go the other way. this might also work with the previous scenario, where having a second set of sensors, even considering the light delay involved, is essential for combat. possibly add things like sensor buoys and probes and make the battle more about maximizing your detection capabilities. 

perhaps they can only make a certain number of jumps, say they only have a certain amount of antimatter on board, for both the drive and the warhead. if you burn it all in jumps, or in sublight, you reduce its yield until you just have a kinetic impactor (which may still be sufficient to destroy/disable the target). however at that point you can no longer make course corrections. 

nerf your op weapon. 

Edited by Nuke
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23 hours ago, Spacescifi said:

 

 

 

1. Launch warp missiles and try to hit a warp missile with a warp missile...in less than ten seconds LOL.

2. Try to warp dodge again, only to realize now the missile has closed even more distance the moment it reaquires a firing solution on your vessel to hit it at warp.

3. Try to laser zap the warp missile in less than ten seconds.

4. A solution of your own if you can think of a good one.


Conclusion: So what is the point of all this?

A very simple one. The heavier your spaceship the more it's RCS turn rate is slower or it has to use up more propellant to turn faster. For survival you want a high turn rate, especially for dodging warp missiles. But that is only a temporary solution, as warp missiles fired a light second away will catch up sooner or later. They have faster warp acceleration.


My point? Against hypevelocity weapons that can reaquire for several tries...like warp missiles, big heavy ships are sitting ducks.

 

There are some (real) studies trying to figure out if Time is continuum or discrete. Some science dudes really think Time may be Discrete, I.e., there's a minimum quantum of time between them nothing ever happens.

It would be like KPS physics engine with a very, very, very small deltaT.

Spoiler

 

So, that's my proposal for a Option 4 on a Universe with Discrete Time:

Don't try to evade. Aim the ship into the missile and accelerate it to a warp speed in which the speed would be too greater to be detected by the 'Universe' - possibly releasing a kind of shaft with some deceleration so the missile strikes the shaft inside a 'valid' Time quantum, destroying it so it can't reverse and hunt you by the SAS.

:)

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5 hours ago, Codraroll said:

The "missiles miss but come back to try again" trope really needs to die.

For a missile to be capable of doing that, it needs to pack three times as much delta-V into it as it really requires. 1x to go from zero to impact speed, another 1x to cancel out its relative velocity away from the target after the miss, and another 1x to get back to impact speed in the right direction. Plus, you need to outfit the missile (which by its very nature is throwaway) with the capability to flip, reignite, calculate a new approach trajectory, and other costly and complicating features. All to handle the eventuality of the missile missing its target, which, y'know, shouldn't be the eventuality that guides your design. If the missiles are so poor they miss their targets often enough to need to be designed around it, gearing them up for another shot probably won't improve their odds all that much. If the foe can dodge once, they can dodge twice, and missiles aren't known for their excessive reserves of delta-V. They can't keep flipping and retrying forever.

And if you make the missiles good enough to usually hit their target on the first try, outfitting them with flip-and-retry capability would involve throwing away a lot of unneeded delta-V and fancy guidance systems. That makes the missiles more expensive and bigger than they need to be. That money and weapons bay space could probably be better used by having two simpler missiles instead of one fancy one.

Of course, if multiple-use warp drives are cheap enough that you can keep installing them on what is effectively fireworks, it may be a viable tactic to build a missile that keeps harassing its target until it eventually hits. But one would think an adversary capable of multiple missile dodges would have some way to permanently disable enemy missiles too.

This, now some sub sonic anti ship missiles has an search feature  but they are cruise missiles  as in small robot planes making this doable, makes them easy to shoot down however.

Now in space I assume most long range missiles would be two stages. You have an high ISP first stage setting up an intercept trajectory. After burn out it drops one or more warheads / second stages. first stage would be very visible however second stage is small, stealthy and why not use cold gas to both cool them and mask the trajectory. 
You might blow up first stage just to make more junk to track.
Second stage might be an warhead able to hit from an distance like an bomb pumped x-ray laser or an high trust rocket going for an second burn to hit. 
I agree stealth in space is extremely hard if you are under trust or if you have an life support system but its pretty easy for an warhead. 

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25 minutes ago, magnemoe said:

After burn out it drops one or more warheads / second stages. first stage would be very visible however second stage is small, stealthy and why not use cold gas to both cool them and mask the trajectory. 

And while the enemy ship is busy with killing the warheads, the booster suddenly wakes up, gives full throttle and rams the aim.

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1 hour ago, Nuke said:

i think you end up getting to a point where even smaller ships are incapable of evading the warp missile (as described).  i think you would be better off putting a few limits on the missiles. 

perhaps they require their host ship's sensors and computers to plot the relativistic targeting solution in near real time, effectively "painting the target". light delay between the launching ship and the missile itself would then be a factor to consider. so evading the missile would involve putting distance between you and the ship to increase the sensor lag. alternatively you can go for the ship and try to take it out first so its missile doesn't know what to do with itself.

even if the missile has its own guidance suite, distance between the target and the missile is going to have light delay. so depending on distance you have a bit of a blind spot in which to maneuver without the warhead knowing what you are doing. employing some deception tactics and decoy tech, like ecm or sensor spoofing or jamming. either blind it or make the missile think you warped off in one direction while you go the other way. this might also work with the previous scenario, where having a second set of sensors, even considering the light delay involved, is essential for combat. possibly add things like sensor buoys and probes and make the battle more about maximizing your detection capabilities. 

perhaps they can only make a certain number of jumps, say they only have a certain amount of antimatter on board, for both the drive and the warhead. if you burn it all in jumps, or in sublight, you reduce its yield until you just have a kinetic impactor (which may still be sufficient to destroy/disable the target). however at that point you can no longer make course corrections. 

nerf your op weapon. 

 

The best tactic to deal with my warp missiles as described is to destroy them before they destroy you.

Ideally you want an array of RBOD lightsecond zapping Xasers inspired from project rho.

Light second range is too close for comfort now, and any planet could have orbiters ready to unload warp missiles on you.

All warp vessels do have one nerf. All warp fields cteate an invisible bubble that can be disrupted by outside means, causing a ship or missile to drop out of warp until it finds a clear path through space to warp through.

Such as: 

1. Attempting to warp into an atmosphere will drop you out of warp, since the warp bubble extends around the ship and will touch stuff that can disrupt it before it can continue.

2. Debris fields will drop you out of warp if your warp bubble hits it.

3. Bullets, missiles likewise will do so.

 

Once dropped from warp you retain conservation of momentum and will drift along however you were before warping until you engage rockets or warp away.

 

So if you shoot out a massive cloud of dust in front of your vessel, that will force a warp missile to drop out of warp anf try to ram you with it's rockets.

 

The bad news is that warp missiles use 2 stage rockets...the first stage does 100g for 5 seconds. The second stage is just regular chemical rocketry.

The good news is I reckon 100g througj a dust cloud WILL wreck the missile, yet your ship is bound to get some scarring in the process at that close of range.

 

Best tactic is to let scout ships explore ahead. If anyone troubles them, the good news is that small ships ALSO warp faster than big ships (30 seconds max warp acceleration to light speed). Warp banks for scout ships are usually a few minutes and never more tham five.

Scout ships lack jump abiity, as do warp missiles.

In all cases larger ships carry them and either seed them along orbits for patrol, or carry them as advance early warning forces.

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, SOXBLOX said:

In other words, you assume they would never actually be used to fight a war? If you want to win, you need offensive weapons.

Also, did you read the pages I linked? Atomic Rockets goes verrrry deep on this, and concludes space fighters are quite useless. The stuff on fleet composition is definitely relevant, too.

They will never be used to fight an offensive war. Now that I think about it, it does sound a bit odd, but Japan continued to maintain fairly large amounts of ground defensive weaponry throughout the Cold War despite China, Russia, and both Koreas having no where near the amphibious capability required for a full scale invasion of Japan. So even if faction A does not possess the ships required for an invasion of faction B's planet, it still may be worth possessing defensive weaponry. This is all within my scenario where all factions continue to maintain a desire for peace and therefore will never build up major offensive forces (as a real life example of something like this, the size of forces in the East and West during the Cold War was very dual role- although NATO possessed massive air and naval forces which could have been used to launch a first strike on the USSR, it could just as easily have been used to defend the vast expanse of NATO territory spanning the Atlantic and Mediterranean, likewise although the USSR possessed a massive land army that could have overrun Western Europe, it could just as easily be used to defend the vast expanse of the Soviet Union. Thus each side could lay their claim to a desire for peace while building up military forces. But if the USSR had a massive amphibious fleet based in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, or if NATO possessed a massive land army in Europe, the story would be different. Just as such forces would destroy the two sides claims of wanting peace, factions in the solar system cannot possess interplanetary invasion fleets for the same reason, within my scenario), whether different human nations in the solar system will potentially go to war with each other is a different question.

No, I did not read the links, I apologize. I have now.

I think their points do kill the concept of crewed fighters. However, uncrewed/drone *fighters* (not really fighters, just small, cheap missile trucks designed to deliver the short range missiles within range of the target, perhaps containing detection systems) could be viable. The trucks would be simple and expendable, but would act like fighters (they are not weapons themselves, they carry weapons). And if these trucks with missiles are defensive weapons as in my scenario, it would be easy to build a simple booster to send them to an enemy faction's planet. Uncrewed booster-truck-missiles do the combat remotely and repurposed civilian ships can be used for occupation/ground invasion.

This does however ignore the OP's scenario.

Due to lack of time I did somewhat skim through the articles, so if there is something in there that invalidates my proposal I apologize.

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A single-use one-way fleet of crewless rocket carriers with Orion MiniMag-like drives.
In two attack waves.

Carrying the crewless single-use self-propelled combat vehicles carrying several/tens of self-propelled missiles with Xray/gamma-laser warheads.

The carriers accelerate and run towards the opponent's location.

Approaching to the enemy's fleet (consisting of the same), the carriers release the vehicles. And clouds of metal dust behind them.

The vehicles aim the opponent's ships and correct the trajectory to pass by as close as possible.

On approaching, the vehicles release the missiles and clouds of metal dust behind them.

The missiles aim the enemy ships and correct the trajectory to pass by as close as possible.

On fly-by at the closest possible distance the missiles orient with RCS engage the warheads and disappear in nuclear blasts causing the Xray/gamma  beams, hitting the enemy crafts.
They DON'T hit the aim themselves, they just directly explode on the close fly-by.

Either vehicles, or carriers, or both, are equipped with an axial hydrogen cannon.
After releasing the cargo, they aim the opponent ships and start shooting with beams of neutral hydrogen atoms.

(A hydrogen-bearing fluid from tanks gets ionized, the protons get accelerated, then they pass through an electron flow in a nose "deionizer", and become relativistic neutral hydrogen atoms.
So the beam stays narrow much longer than a proton beam.)

All beams (Xray/gamma and hydrogen ones) irradiate the opponent hull, getting absorbed in thin hot spots on its surface.
The material of the hull inside the spots gets overheated, turns into plasma clouds dense as metal, and explosively expand, so the hull material works like an explosive charge.
The structural integrity of the opponent ship falls and it fails.

The empty vehicles, moving behind the missiles, turn their reactors supercritical and explode on fly-by as fireships/branders.
They are equipped with turrets, each with a passive bunch of metal rods instead of a gun.
When the reactor explodes, the rods emit Xray/gamma into the aimed aims, so a vehicle explodes as an Xray/gamma laser hedgehog.

The clouds of metal dust behind the rockets and vehicles appear in front of the survived opponent ships and kinetically cause their erosion.

The empty carrier ships re-aim on the enemy ground installations, adjust their trajectory, and turn their reactors supercritical on the ground approach, causing on-ground devastation.

 

The second wave of the carriers completes the work.

 

So, the war consists of manufacturing as many standard single-use fleets.

No fighters, no crews.

Edited by kerbiloid
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On 6/30/2021 at 6:36 AM, Spacescifi said:

Options?

1. Launch warp missiles and try to hit a warp missile with a warp missile...in less than ten seconds LOL.

2. Try to warp dodge again, only to realize now the missile has closed even more distance the moment it reaquires a firing solution on your vessel to hit it at warp.

3. Try to laser zap the warp missile in less than ten seconds.

4. A solution of your own if you can think of a good one.

The most realistic like options are probably boring for stories. But I think when (if) there are heavy battleships and warp missiles commonly used they have developed automated defenses against known weapons. Suitable defense weapon is always in readiness state and when missile is detected it is aimed and launched immediately.

 

On 6/30/2021 at 6:36 AM, Spacescifi said:

The age of the big space battleship is over when it cannot effectively dodge fast weaponry nor shield against it.

It is completely impossible to say. With you assumptions it is probably true but they seem to be very arbitrarily chosen combination of scifi and modern technology. If you use some other assumptions it may be very feasible to have battlecrafts with size of  dwarf planet.

Warp drives you described are so magic technology that we can not foresee what kind of detection, hiding, maneuvering or attack technology is available in that level. If spacetime can be manipulated maybe it is possible to form an event horizon around enemy ship and capture it. But maybe it is somehow possible defend by breaking that event horizon or even utilize it to harm attacker. Story can have whatever solution. All them may be criticized against reality but I think it is the whole idea of stories.

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