Railguns vs Lasers vs Missiles vs Nukes vs Other

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If you sent a manned rocket into the astroid belt what would it be armed with?


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Proconquer

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In a hypothetical situation when humanity sent a manned rocket into deep space to mars or beyond into the asteroid belt what would you arm the rocket with in case of encounters with rogue asteroids, weird space phenomena (aliens)?
I fully realise this situation is ridiculously hypothetical and the cost of sending any of this into space is ridiculous however the fact is that it could be plausible to send an armed spaceship into space especially if you are going into a area full of debris/rocks.
I would like to hear peoples reasons on why they picked each option.
 

neil_w

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I don't know what I would pick but definitely not railguns, which would massively kick the ship backwards. Needs to be a massless or self-propelled projectile of some sort.
 

rharshberger

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I don't know what I would pick but definitely not railguns, which would massively kick the ship backwards. Needs to be a massless or self-propelled projectile of some sort.
Railguns could work just fine, they would need to fire a similar weight in the opposite direction as the projectile ( opposite and equal direction) similar to how a recoilless rifle works.
 

neil_w

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Railguns could work just fine, they would need to fire a similar weight in the opposite direction as the projectile ( opposite and equal direction) similar to how a recoilless rifle works.
Has a railgun ever been built like that? Seems like you'd need a duplicate railgun wasting a backwards shot and also wasting precious mass, which would be at a premium in a spaceship.
 

rharshberger

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Has a railgun ever been built like that? Seems like you'd need a duplicate railgun wasting a backwards shot and also wasting precious mass, which would be at a premium in a spaceship.
Not yet, they still havent gotten them ready for service use YET.
 

dr wogz

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Photon disrupters.. :D

I would vote for missiles or "space torpedoes". something that has it's own propulsion & guidance, and something that can be configured for the size of the target.. "Fire & forget"

Or something sticky & stringy & strong, like Spiderman's webs..
 

jlabrasca

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boatgeek

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This may be my inner hippie peacenik showing, but why are we arming this ship in the first place? :) Personally, I'd rather devote the space, weight, and power to scientific instruments than to weaponry that we don't have any reason to think we'll need.

Asteroids we can maneuver around, we aren't going to vaporize parts of Saturn's rings, and aliens are probably either far below or far above us in terms of weapons technology. If they're far below, we have time to sort things out and arm the next ship if they take out our first ship. If they're far above, we're screwed anyway.

Assuming we know that there are hostile aliens out there and we want to put out our best possible armament scenario, I'd go with missiles (near term) or lasers (just a little further out).
 

Steven

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In other words, driving in space would actually be MORE dangerous than on earth?
 

jlabrasca

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Has a railgun ever been built like that? Seems like you'd need a duplicate railgun wasting a backwards shot and also wasting precious mass, which would be at a premium in a spaceship.

Asteroid miners will likely have rail-guns in place already (at least, thats what Gerard K. O'Neill promised)

http://ssi.org/category/mass-drivers/

The projectile would, presumably, have smaller mass than the rail-gun and the ship to which it was attached. Momentum would be conserved, but the spacecraft would have a smaller delta v than the projectile.

Edit: Just noticed that my previous post was scooped by Aerostadt -- serves me right for wasting time tracking down citations.
 
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dhbarr

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Mass driver for sending trash one way and Stuff the other, doubles as a rail gun.

Big ol' laser for vaporizing samples, burning off trash ice while leaving heavy metals ; also repelling boarders.

Probes for dropping on asteroids that have enough oomph to leave the gravity well and hop to their next assignment are also torps.

Basically chainsaws, but in space.
 

jqavins

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The asteroid belt is very sparse, despite what we see in movies, so potential dangerous collisions, few and far between to begin with, can easily be avoided with simple maneuvering thrusters.

There is very likely no such thing as FTL travel, which would mean we will never encounter the aliens that almost certainiy exist somewhere else in our galaxy.

Which means that the only threats are from hostile forces of Terrestrial origin, i.e. other countries and/or companies than one's own, or pirates. Those will probably be handled by military and/law enforcement forces, so private ships such as miners and tourists would carry minimal if any weaponry. The military and law enforcement forces woul probably carry multiple weapon types to cover a variety of situations.

None of this is happening any time soon, and by the time it does new weapons, barely imagined today, will surely be available. Therefore, my vote is "Other".
 

jlabrasca

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Big ol' laser for vaporizing samples, burning off trash ice while leaving heavy metals ; also repelling boarders.
High-speed data transmitters will also double as directed-energy weapons. Right now we can dedicate a lot of resources to collecting attenuated signals from the very few transmitters in interplanetary space. When the traffic increases, we'll need them to talk louder. The doughty asteroid miners will have big masers and lasers for updating Fb and Instagram by long distance, and which will be good for frying local xenomorphs.
 

BABAR

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“encounters with rogue asteroids, weird space phenomena (aliens)?”

Probabilities of such are infinitesimal compared with risks of ship component/life support malfunction.
Since everything has a price in “mass”, I wouldn’t waste any on the above situations and would devote every bit of mass to more practical purposes.
 

heada

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Assuming same energy input, which would be better as a weapon and which would be better as a comm method, LASER or MASER?
 

jqavins

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Answering that would require a detailed study of many factors that is beyond the capability of nearly if not absolutely everyone here. You want a gut feel answer? Lasers.
 

jlabrasca

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I always liked the Wave Motion Gun.
>smile<

I was watching a video of Norm Chan and Kayte Sabicer demonstrating paint weathering techniques on a model of the Yamato. At one point, Norm Chan says something like: "of course, since its a space ship in the vacuum of space it wouldn't have rust stains like this... " and I started yelling at the computer screen. I thought I'd probably reached "peak nerd" (arguing over the plot details of a 40 year old animated cartoon with two people* too young to have seen even the original North American dubs and who could not hear me on account of not being in the room with me) -- then I responded to a thread about arming asteroid mining ships on a forum for people who build model rockets and realized that there are always greater heights of nerdiness to which I might aspire...

*on a premium channel for which I pay a subscription so that I can watch people build and finish models
 
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kuririn

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Cloaking device for aliens.
Shields for asteroids.
No offensive weapons cuz you don't want to inadvertently start a war.
Like with the Minbari.:D
 

kuririn

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PS Don't think blasting an asteroid with nukes, missiles, or a kinetic energy device would be a good idea. Would you rather have one big cannon ball or thousands of shot gun pellets coming at you?
 

8thPaladin

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Reminds me of when I used to play Star Fleet Battles... a long time ago...
 

jqavins

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I notice that with 12 votes, no one has picked nukes. To be clear, I voted "Other" for two reasons: future weapons we may not know to consider today, and the likelihood that military and police (and the bad guys) will carry multiple weapon types. Nuke could well be among said multiple types.

Since multiple votes are allowed in the poll, I might have voted nukes as well as other, but the remaining choices were not quite right. So here's my prospective arsenal; all are maybes, at least some of which seem likely to be in the final mix:
  • Lasers - point-and-shoot
  • Kinetic kill weapons - minimum collateral damage
    • Missiles - set it and forget it
    • Railgun - minimum expenditure of mass per shot
  • Nukes on missiles - proximity kill
  • Presently unknown future weapons - new capabilities and/or superior performance of the above functions
 
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Mike Haberer

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As long as this is hypothetical, then you want a deflector shield ala NCC-1701. You don't see the Enterprise firing phasers to fend off deep space particles when travelling at beyond light speed, it wouldn't work (light only travels at the speed of light; they would run into their own phaser beam). Deflectors are a must for deep space travel...
 

Proconquer

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wow thanks everyone for the responses I didn't think I would get anyone responding :)
 
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