How long until space is truly militarized?




 
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June 26th, 2011  
Yossarian
 
 

Topic: How long until space is truly militarized?


I want to know from practical viewpoints from the perspective that this idea maybe commonly excepted knowledge one day, that the barriers between space and the surface of the earth are now bridged by armed conflict.


I think that now our species is getting closer to truely carrying armaments into orbit.

One such fear was nuclear weapons on orbital based platforms, which in theory would cut delivery times in half.

Other weapons systems that have been mentioned for orbital deployment are things such as devices that can launch chaff and debris to destroy other satelites to microwave beams for missile detection and disabiling of their potential warheads.

It can be certain that the first to place any weapons into space could be both the wealthiest countries, and the ones with the biggest space programs and private weapon industry establishments.


I posted a similar thread like this before, but I think I may not have elaborated enough.

I am NOT talking about "SPACE SHIPS", or anything of that nature, or anything holding b rated movie qualities.

I am aproaching this question from a PRACTICAL standpoint ,and of what is likely to come FIRST, in this field, for I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time, or short decades before space is used for more than just high altitude
reconnaissance.
June 27th, 2011  
GHR
 
 
If you send weapons systems into space not much would change in terms of warfare.

If a ground based unit can attack a weapon in space then it would be unlikely that it will enter orbit until it is safe. It is highly unlikely that such a weapon will become cheap enough to risk. On the other hand, once you control orbit (which is a big area) you will be able to destroy targets on the ground with pinpoint accuracy.

Military technology is a game of haves, have-nots and catch-ups. If country A develops a weapon then Country B will develop a counter to it. If Country A develops a good defense, Country B will find a way to defeat it. Every system has a weakness and strength. Still, at the very root of it, all it takes is a spear, in the right place and time, and the soldier commanding the advanced satellite system is dead.
June 27th, 2011  
Yossarian
 
 
I agree with you on terms of the never ending technological race between weapon systems, and defensive counter measures.


But it just seems ill placed to ignore the possibilities that platforms in orbit can provide, or the risk an adversary with orbital platforms can represent, not only to forces on the ground, but to space based navigation or weapons equiptment of their own fighting forces as well.

Like many major advancements in military hardware it seems, you illistrated that any new orbital armaments would be targeted by counter defenses, true, but almost any valuable military assent that poses a great threat on the battlefield is in the same situation, no matter how big or small.
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June 27th, 2011  
Big_T87
 
I figured I'd toss in my two cents.

Having orbiting or space-based weapons is one of those ideas that is good from some standpoints and bad from others. You guys have all mentioned that the weapons are vulnerable to ground based attacks, which is very true. You'd have to develop a system with an automated defense, or a defense system that is monitored from the ground. (automated can get hairy if someone has a satellite in the vicinity, spaceship, etc...)

I know everyone on here has seen "goldeneye" and the idea of the space laser systems. The hard part is, for the most part, they showed how you have to wait for that orbital alignment firing any weapon system. Laser based systems wouldn't be too hard firing off line, but missiles/etc have to be fired upon the orbital path, otherwise it takes a lot of fuel to get the missile in that direction if the orbit doesn't cross that location. (this comes from 2 years of classes in engineering for aerospace)

The movie "Space Cowboys" showed a good example of a possible orbiting system. The defense was based on radar waves [detecting incoming radar], which would work well. But you noticed on there and I wouldn't doubt the weight, they estimated 60 tons (i think that's the figure). That's a big hunk of equipment to get up there.

Anyways, the possibilities are there. It would be interesting to see where we go, but I think the idea of ground based long-range attacks works better.

Feel free to comment to me on this. Just wanted to share what I had.

June 27th, 2011  
Big_Z
 
 
In my eyes the militarization of space has already begun.

I'm pretty sure a Field Commander would take a spy satellite over a battery of howitzers any day. Intelligence from these satellite can end a battle before it even begins. Grid cordinates given from GPS satellites has greatly improved guided missle technology and the sort. How about the propaganda war that could be waged by communications satellites? These are just the ones we know about.

Laser systems are going to be my guess for the weapon of outerspace. They don't need a atmosphere to propogate through, a vacum actually makes them more effecient. They will have a near infinite power supply, the Sun. They won't need a huge cooling system [the biggest hurdle right now], the chill of space will take care of that. They can travel at or near the speed of light. We can split atoms and melt metals with them. It makes sense to me.

The only thing stopping them in my mind is the morality of it. In the same sense that allot of people don't like the thought of robots waging wars for us. Without the fear of casualties of your own troops it becomes trivial. I think some of the big US war contractors could pull something devestating off if given the green light. The first country to put weapons in space will probably be the only country to do it. They will have the monopoly and control what goes in and out of the atmosphere.
June 27th, 2011  
Yossarian
 
 
Three systems or platforms come to mind when I posted this idea, which I do not consider my own, just thought about bringing up.

One is kinetic projectiles, that use force of impact with the planet's surface, moreover than a large explosive payload (this is proven naturally by meteor and astroid impacts around the solar system).

Even a small super heated projectile launched from orbit onto the planet's surface can cause massive damage upon impact.

Also another platform that came to mind is an a weapon system that can direct disruptive or destructive (most likely the former will come first) beams of particles to enemy space platforms, sort of like spilling coffee on your foe's camera he keeps taking pictures of your lawn with.


And lastly another thought that came to mind about space born weaponry is orbital launched munitions that could survive re entry.

Imagine shock and awe, without the aircraft...


Course here are some of the obivious issues.

*Cost, cost of software, training of personel, and allocation of rare materials and resources to be put on a combat platform, I don't know if military planners and policy makers do this, but in today's terms, I don't care if it is a F/A 22 Raptor or Motorola headset, if you are sending it into harms way, or a combat situation, you better consider it expendable, doesn't matter what projected effectiveness to the designers promise you.

* Construction, the construction of the plaform, no matter how heavy , in the vacum of space weight is not an issue, it has been mentioned here in this thread before that they can be quite hefty, but that does not mean that you can not send them into orbit for assembly, the ISS is massive and heavy for a space platform, but you did anyone see the whole thing go up all at once on one rocket did you? The only hard part is keeping your adversaries peeping eyes off of your shiny new space weapon during the assembly process.

* Also mentioned, is defense, defense is not something new to military technologies, and is almost as old as the notion of sticks and stones as weapons themselves. But in the modern age we see that modern military contractors and idustries around the globe are putting together more and more adavanced solutions to precieved threats, these can range from physical defenses like CWIS and RAMs for naval vessels, to advanced Active Protection Systems for armored vehicles like the Trophy System, also very advanced electronic systems and countermeasures for defeating guided munitions and tracking devices. What I am getting at is that anything as capable as a military space plaform would have to have a type of both on board, one for space born threats such as enemy platforms and debris fields, and one or preferably more for enemy electronic jamming and countermeasure devices and broadcasting equiptment.

* Also a larger challenge looms in terms of space debris, at 23,000 Km an hour or even faster, even a grain of sand can ruin or damage sensitive equiptment. I you are going to accelerate the rate which you kill stuff from space, you will also accelerate the rate your enemies launch stuff up there to blow up your orbital platforms. The USAF already is tracking today tens of thousands of pieces of "space trash" orbiting the Earth, now image if you blew up a 50 ton weapons platform or two....

* Lastly, it's about numbers, due to excessive cost and difficulty of placing into orbit, there will not be a large amount of space platforms at first in orbit to become to reliant upon. What I am saying is, maybe space weaponry can be used as missile defense, or in precision force mulitplication, but not as a means of launching a massive orbital attack in lieu of a traditional ground and atomsphere based assault (refering to air power and ground forces).

* Also there would be at FIRST moral concerns over the the thought of weapons, even if controlled directly by ground based personel,being place in space,


But I am not a psychiatrist so I will leave that notion alone .
June 29th, 2011  
Big_T87
 
I found this online, thought it was a good representation of what we are talking about. Written by a Major in the USAF.

Quote:
The only hard part is keeping your adversaries peeping eyes off of your shiny new space weapon during the assembly process.
This is hard to do anymore. The military still has satellites that are on classified missions around the earth, and the new x-37b is a prime example. But many people have prying eyes on launches. And if you send 3 consecutive launches of large items for assembly, people starting asking and then you get the observers trying to see them in their telescopes, or foreign countries on their radars. I think so far the X-37B has done well, I think that's due to it's size.

Quote:
* Also a larger challenge looms in terms of space debris, at 23,000 Km an hour or even faster, even a grain of sand can ruin or damage sensitive equiptment. I you are going to accelerate the rate which you kill stuff from space, you will also accelerate the rate your enemies launch stuff up there to blow up your orbital platforms. The USAF already is tracking today tens of thousands of pieces of "space trash" orbiting the Earth, now image if you blew up a 50 ton weapons platform or two....
I really do like this point. Can you imagine the constant fear of large debris not burning up in re-entry? Plus, one destroyed satellite can make millions of pieces of small debris and probably a few large chunks. That would get in the way of future space exploration, due to fear of micro impacts, etc...
 


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