Sealgaire, on Sep 6 2005, 10:18 PM, said:
I think your vision, though cool, is based a bit too much on current scifi. I think that weaponry advancements would make missiles and fighter craft obsolete. A laser connected to an advanced power plant and computer could probably track and destroy
any number of missiles or fighters before they were in range.
Think about it, unless some kind of shielding was developed (which is pure fiction and no science at this point) the laser would only need to be fixed on it's target for an instant before it's destroyed. Then it's just a matter of how quickly the computer can lock on to the next target. Considering even modern computers could handle millions of targets a second, I dont think you could overwhelm it with numbers.
Another thing you have to remember, unlike in most scifi, lasers would have effectively unlimited range in space, with almost no particles to scatter it. I think a bigger limiting factor would be the ability to focus it. Your sensors probably would only factor determining you maximum range. If you know where the target is, you can destroy it in other words.
I think space combat in the future will consist of large ships shooting at each other across vast distances, with the ship having the best sensors and power to it's weapons getting the upper hand. All this would probably happen in what seems an instant to an observer due to the speed of the targeting and weapons. Things that might help a ship survive longer in a fight would be having enormously heat resistant armor and randomly placing vital components of the ship amidst large areas of empty space so the enemy doesn't know where to shoot to cripple the ship, buying time.
Of course, alot of that is speculation, but I think it's pretty well informed. Sure as hell wouldn't make for very interesting battles in a game though. It would happen far to fast for humans to handle so would have to be completely controlled by AI.
Lasers would certainly have a large part to play in short-range Point-defence and fighter supression. However, due to the high energy requirements of Lasers and their rather negligable damage, I think that lasers would be dropped in favor of the more damaging railguns. The kinetic energy of a small bit of matter accelerated to say .8c is incredible. And like was mentioned, reflectivity can greatly diminish the effect of a Laser.
There are particles in space, just very very few of them. When you start dealing with ranges > a few light days you will start to see distortion on a beam.
I wonder if in space, due to the factor of lag time caused by the distance between fleets, both sides will kill each other without even knowing... That would be a strange thought.
Fnoigy, on Sep 7 2005, 05:45 AM, said:
Think combat like with boats which can go in a third dimension, with almost no way to cool themselves beyond a tank of liquid nitrogen they have to re-fill requently, no friction or opposing force to control their movement against (no water or air), much greater distances and generally all movement is a dangerous pain in the ass. Space combat, unfortunately, is really not much of a possibility, and probably won't be even NEARLY as glorious as sci-fi seems to make it. Very careful, very hectic, very VERY BIG PAIN.
Very true. No "Heroic" roles to be played by people here, since all the humans will be doing is coming along for the ride while the computers duke it out.
NebuchadnezzaR, on Sep 7 2005, 08:57 AM, said:
I was actually thinking about gaming out whether there would even be wars once we begin interstellar flight. If we assume there arent ideological differences that cause us to kill eachother at an obvious net loss, space wars might be simply unreasonable, much like nuclear war is unreasonable now. Ill bet that if there was a war, it would be a war of information. Both sides in a tradeoff between security of communication and speed of communication. If comm protocalls are too secure (ie only accepting orders on certain days/certian something elses), then sneak attacks and catching enemies completely unaware is possible. If ships are completely trusting in orders (ie only computational encryption), it would be entirely possible for signals and orders to be hacked. Every code is brakeable given enough CPU time, and there will be plenty of idle cycles floating around in the future.
"Only the dead have seen the end of war." - Plato
I think that though warships will probably remain in the "enforcing" role in the future, there will most assuredly be conflict between starships. I don't know if it will be anything like a cold war with huge fleets duking it out, or like modern-day iraq with the big dudes squashing the little ones. Therein lies how future warship designs will be built. For instance, the heavy/light combo works best for large fleets. Something smaller like medium/light would be requirements of a "police state", I am thinking frigates would be extremely useful in that type of situation.
Lindley, on Sep 7 2005, 09:44 AM, said:
The best portrayal of space combat that I've seen is in David Weber's Honor Harrington series.
Read "The Shiva Option" and "Insurrection" by the same author. They have very interesting fleet tactics and setups, though the shiva option drags on a bit with the statistical battles.
The heavy vs. fighter balance seems odd to me at first. But I think it balances out in this way: Starting will all shapes/sizes of combat ships, eventually it filters down to the ships large enough to mount an effective PDS system, and fighters. Now say it evolves into just large ships due to the supposed "ineffectiveness" of fighters. Once no more fighters are being built, the heavy ships will want to get rid of their now useless PDS systems to clear space for heavier weapons. Then suppose one of the sides re-discovers fighters, all of the sudden they have a huge advantage, as the other side now has ineffective point defense. This cycle could go around in circles forever. So fighters will always be a critical part of space combat.
I wonder how space vs planetary battles would go. Probably not in the planets favor, as a handful of nukes would turn any world to dust and ash. Therefore planets would have to have a very effective self defense mechanism.
Hmmm... Gravity Trap. Projecting a black hole just in front of the ship. (been discussed a million times before I know) But another side to that would be that any mass would be sucked into the black hole instead of hitting the space ship. In effect, the perfect shield. We already know how to creat black holes, the tricky part would be keeping the ship from falling into the black hole itself.