How Did Space Charge Impact Reagan's Star Wars Particle Beam Weapons?

In summary: Summary In summary, the methods suggested to contain charged particle beams in Reagan's Star Wars program and why they failed.
  • #1
sid_galt
502
1
Does anyone know what were the methods suggested to contain charged particle beams in Reagan's Star Wars program and why did the suggested methods fail?
 
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  • #2
sid_galt said:
Does anyone know what were the methods suggested to contain charged particle beams in Reagan's Star Wars program and why did the suggested methods fail?
:smile:

Actually, with a 'charged' particle beam in space, i.e. not inside an accelerator where the dispersion is controlled by the magnetic field, one gets a dispersed beam. So the high energy particles, light nuclei, have to be neutralized. The idea was to deploy particle beams (also laser beams and kinetic energy projectiles) against ICBM warheads, but that only works out if the warheads get out of the atmosphere.

In general, in addition to getting a good beam density, there were two problems for the particle beam weapons - 1) the Earth's atmosphere, 2) the Earth's magnetic field. Collisions with the atmospheric (air) molecules cause ionziation (loss of energy), and then the ions would interact with the Earth's magnetic field.

There were some ideas of how to overcome those issues, but I'm not sure if they have been released in the public domain. Some were pretty nutty ideas. :biggrin:

There was also the issue of the power source - Multi-megawatt reactors and power plants. This was another major problem. The various concepts weighed a lot, e.g. on the order of 10-100 MT (10,000 - 100,000 kgs), and at about $10,000/kg ($100 million - 1 billion/platform just to get them into space), it would have been very expensive to establish a network.

The available HLLV's were limited. Then look at what the space shuttle can handle - and the fact that the fleet of 5 has managed 107 missions with the loss of 2 craft!

It took awhile, but the Reagan administration finally figured out their plan just wouldn't work.
 
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  • #3
So in effect it is virtually impossible to make the things work. Good thing anyway, I wouldn't have liked the Soviets to get such a capability.

Anyway, Thanks for the info. :)
 
  • #4
Astronuc said:
It took awhile, but the Reagan administration finally figured out their plan just wouldn't work.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), it took physicists, especially accelerator physicists, only 2 seconds to figure out it wouldn't work - the length of time to say "space charge".

Zz.
 

Related to How Did Space Charge Impact Reagan's Star Wars Particle Beam Weapons?

1. What are charged particle beam weapons?

Charged particle beam weapons are advanced technology weapons that use charged particles, such as electrons or ions, to create a directed energy beam. This beam can be used to damage or destroy targets at a distance.

2. How do charged particle beam weapons work?

Charged particle beam weapons work by accelerating charged particles to high speeds and directing them towards a target. When these particles come into contact with the target, they transfer their energy, causing damage or destruction.

3. What are the advantages of charged particle beam weapons?

Charged particle beam weapons have several advantages over traditional weapons, such as bullets or missiles. They have a higher velocity and can travel at the speed of light, making them more difficult to defend against. They also have a longer range and can be more precise, reducing collateral damage.

4. What are the limitations of charged particle beam weapons?

Charged particle beam weapons are currently limited by their energy source and size. They require a large amount of power to operate and can be bulky, making them difficult to use in certain situations. They are also affected by atmospheric conditions and can be deflected by magnetic fields.

5. Are charged particle beam weapons currently being used in warfare?

At the moment, charged particle beam weapons are still in the research and development stage and are not being used in warfare. However, several countries, including the United States, are actively working on developing and testing these weapons for potential future use.

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