Physically plausible explanation for missile based space combat?

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Also, the earlier estimates for missile barrage (336 independent missiles, etc.) are based on Trident missiles, the MIRVs of which are all 100-kiloton warheads (Hiroshima was 16 kilotons). If you're firing smaller, 1-kiloton tactical nuclear weapons, you wouldn't be talking about hundreds of missiles, but thousands or tens of thousands per barrage. I think even a network of advanced beam drones could have difficulty stopping that.
If the goal is to take out the ship, with only 25km/s closing speed, one dont need any nuclear warhead. The blind sensors part is the though thing, but directed radiation is more efficient.
Ok, i will read Night's dawn, and digest ideas, thanks.
(I have already wrote a part with captain is sweating as fighter approaches and try to take it out with laser... but i sure havent calculated with nanorad xaser...
Plan B would be stick to the idea, that no advanced high-sensitivity sensor unharmed if that x burst focused on entire ship, and continue that semi stealth with only sensors robust and sensitive as an axe from a light second...)
 
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Ryan_m_b

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Again it all depends on how far away the attackers are and how many shots off the defenders can get. The type of missiles you're talking about use chemical rocket propulsion and tend to be quite small. So thrust time is in the low minutes at best. Even if we generously assume 10gs for 10 minutes that's a top speed of 60kmps. It would take 5000 seconds to cross a light second distance. Even if you had a thousand the enemy would only have to fire once every five seconds to be safe.

The limits to missiles thrust time are very important. Small missiles means less sophisticated propulsion and less fuel so a lot less delta V. Longer range missiles are going to resemble small space ships, which brings us back to the laser drone idea.
 
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Otherwise the good thing about that xaser, that if they have such stuff, i could pretty much rule out using lasers against infantry, atmosphere swallows and scatters them so much (at least Earth's i dont know what is the transparency of Mars atmosphere) that it is a waste to use it, even if reactor dont run out of power, i dont think such a high energy application dont need regular, expensive maintenance.
 

Ryan_m_b

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This might help you work it out:
http://web-docs.gsi.de/~stoe_exp/web_programs/x_ray_absorption/index.php

I'm not sure how much the atmosphere absorbs X-Ray's, if you can generate powerful focused ones I don't think it would stop it much. Using the link and assuming a 10 MJ X-Ray and 10km of air (given that the vast majority of atmospheric mass is within the first 10km) it seems like virtually all of it would hit the target.

Then again if you're in the situation of needing boots on the ground you probably care about not destroying all the infrastructure. If the fighting is inside (or underground in burried habitats) orbital support is useless.
 
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This might help you work it out:
http://web-docs.gsi.de/~stoe_exp/web_programs/x_ray_absorption/index.php

I'm not sure how much the atmosphere absorbs X-Ray's, if you can generate powerful focused ones I don't think it would stop it much. Using the link and assuming a 10 MJ X-Ray and 10km of air (given that the vast majority of atmospheric mass is within the first 10km) it seems like virtually all of it would hit the target.

Then again if you're in the situation of needing boots on the ground you probably care about not destroying all the infrastructure. If the fighting is inside (or underground in burried habitats) orbital support is useless.
It said 100% swallow with 100km air. Otherwise x-ray is ionizing radiation cause cancer, it is pretty sure a war crime to use it against a settlement.
 

Ryan_m_b

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Oh yeah so it is, there was an error when I first used it. I thought the length was in meters. Yeah doesn't seem like an XFEL is much use in firing through atmosphere. For that sort of thing kinetic bombardment would be more effective.

At least it works both ways, a ground based XFEL wouldn't be able to shoot an orbiting ship.
 
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Ok, thank you really much, whatever solution i will take from the two i have mentioned earlier, i surely have to rewrite things.
 
The limits to missiles thrust time are very important. Small missiles means less sophisticated propulsion and less fuel so a lot less delta V.
In long-range missiles (ICBMs), most of the thrust is supplied by the main rocket before the MIRVs separate, so the propulsion can actually be quite sophisticated and with high delta V.

The type of missiles you're talking about use chemical rocket propulsion and tend to be quite small. So thrust time is in the low minutes at best. Even if we generously assume 10gs for 10 minutes that's a top speed of 60kmps. It would take 5000 seconds to cross a light second distance. Even if you had a thousand the enemy would only have to fire once every five seconds to be safe.
Does a missile always use chemical rockets, and does it have to be small? Do we have to assume that every time a drone fires, it's a hit, and it hits a real MIRV and not a decoy or sensor ghost, and it's an instant burn-through and a kill?

Also, you could program the missiles to detonate when critically damaged, so that their emissions would help obscure the rest from targeting scanners.

Also, the missiles might actually be passing through a region of space not occupied by laser drones. I mean, that's possible, right? The laser drones could be elsewhere, maybe intercepting other missiles?

Maybe i should really forget the epic space battle thing in this setting, and save it for FTL setting...
Laser drone fighters still rather unepic, no dodging shrapnels, no missiles closing in etc...
If you don't want super-effective laser drones, can't you just write that they don't exist because no one's made them yet? They are kinda high-tech.

Closing argument:

 

Ryan_m_b

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It's late here so just a few quick comments:

1) If the missiles are using more than chemical rockets (e.g a nuclear thermal drive) then they automatically become a lot bigger as they need a nuclear reactor, heat radiators etc. Suddenly you're talking about a small space ship rather than a small missile. That knocks down the number a ship can carry by quite a bit.

1.5) You mentioned MIRVs, using that system might give you lots of missiles but it means that in the boost phase the defender can knock out 12 missiles in one shot. So even if you gave your first stage a nuclear rocket you've traded slow speed for low number of targets.

1.75) Even if you could make nuclear rockets small enough that every missile could be one the enemy could do the same but swap the warhead out for an X-Ray laser. Powered by the on-board reactor they'd be able to each shoot one enemy missile and destroy the entire threat.

2) I don't see how a decoy could work. With a reasonably good sensor and software you could work out the mass of a ship by the exhaust velocity, mass flow and the overall acceleration of the ship. To be exactly the same as a real missile a decoy would need to mass the same. Unless uranium was rare I don't see the point.

3) I don't know what a sensor ghost is (googling it brings up something from Star Trek and crackpot ghost detectors) but I don't see how any sort of ECM could make it look like a missile existed a light second away when it doesn't.

4) As for being an instant kill we're assuming a high level of accuracy based on the nanoradian XFEL linked above. Speculating that this space age civilisation could produce one capable of mega joule emission (seems reasonable given that this is a world where fusion propulsion technology exists) that's equivalent to a tank shell. It's hard to see a missile surviving that.

5) I don't see how a drone could be elsewhere to the extent it wasn't useful. Given that beam weapons effective to up to a light second are compatible with GTOMs setting you'd have to really screw up as a tactician to not have one around to act on point defence.

6) Even ignoring drones a 1-light second MJ X-Ray laser would be a potent point defence. If you could fire once every few seconds you could pick off thousands of missiles crossing a light second distance at a few tens of kmps
 
1.75) Even if you could make nuclear rockets small enough that every missile could be one the enemy could do the same but swap the warhead out for an X-Ray laser. Powered by the on-board reactor they'd be able to each shoot one enemy missile and destroy the entire threat.
This is how small actual MIRVs are:

W87_MIRV.jpg


Those are W87 warheads - 475-kiloton city-destroyers, well beyond our needs.

If the missiles are using more than chemical rockets (e.g a nuclear thermal drive) then they automatically become a lot bigger as they need a nuclear reactor, heat radiators etc. Suddenly you're talking about a small space ship massing a few tonnes rather than a small missile. That knocks down the number a ship can carry by quite a bit.
I don't know what the tonnage of interplanetary spacecraft in this story is like, but actual ICBMs weigh a lot more than that already.

2) I don't see how a decoy could work. With a reasonably good sensor and software you could work out the mass of a ship by the exhaust velocity, mass flow and the overall acceleration of the ship. To be exactly the same as a real missile a decoy would need to mass the same. Unless uranium was rare I don't see the point.

3) I don't know what a sensor ghost is (googling it brings up something from Star Trek and crackpot ghost detectors) but I don't see how any sort of ECM could make it look like a missile existed a light second away when it doesn't.
Well, using plasma to absorb and distort EM profile, varying electric and magnetic fields, just plain old-fashioned invisibility via active camouflage, clouds of chaff like real ICBMs use... It just seems that there are various possible ways of messing with sensors, and then you can just detonate some of the swarm to mask the rest in radiation, heat and light, or have them detonate automatically when damaged.

Also, I've mentioned this before, but after MIRV separation, there might not be any exhaust velocity or acceleration to measure in order to work out mass; assuming you can actually see and measure the exhaust in the first place, you would really only be measuring the mass of the discarded boost stage.

1.5) You mentioned MIRVs, using that system might give you lots of missiles but it means that in the boost phase the defender can knock out 12 missiles in one shot. So even if you gave your first stage a nuclear rocket you've traded slow speed for low number of targets.
If they're close enough to blast your missiles with lasers as they launch, doesn't that imply you're close enough to blast them back and possibly jam them?
 
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Ok i decided the following: at first laser fighters. If they maintain 1g acceleration they arent trivial to hit precisely from a lightsec. Maybe they arent really good against a battleship with much bigger armor and firepower ( although if they can get into right angle to attack radiators ) but good against a convoy.

Then with help of alien metal missiles will be introduced as new fearful weapon. They will be lidar invisible able to contain heat for hours in inertial phase while modify their position with thethers ( connect a squadron with cables ) and near unkillable with lasers.
 

Ryan_m_b

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This is how small actual MIRVs are:

Those are W87 warheads - 475-kiloton city-destroyers, well beyond our needs.

I don't know what the tonnage of interplanetary spacecraft in this story is like, but actual ICBMs weigh a lot more than that already.
But on top of that you need to add a nuclear reactor, radiators and reaction mass. That requires each MIRV to be more akin in mass to Project Pluto or a Saturn C-5N.

I can't find much information on how much those would have massed (pictures of NERVA and PLUTO look a fair size bigger than those warheads) but we can use the rocket equation to figure out how good such an engine would be. A bit of googling suggests an exhaust velocity of 9kmps. Mass ratio for different delta Vs:

10kmps - 3.03
20kmps - 9.22
50kmps - 256.67
100kmps - 66910.49

So if you have a nuclear thermal MIRV massing X tonnes it will need that ratio of fuel above for those speeds. Not going anywhere fast it doesn't seem, unless GTOM is allowing really small fusion drives in his setting. Even if you could accelerate one up to 100kmps it would take 50 minutes to cross a light second.

Well, using plasma to absorb and distort EM profile, varying electric and magnetic fields, just plain old-fashioned invisibility via active camouflage, clouds of chaff like real ICBMs use... It just seems that there are various possible ways of messing with sensors, and then you can just detonate some of the swarm to mask the rest in radiation, heat and light, or have them detonate automatically when damaged.
All of those are going to make your missiles shine like beacons in infra red. If a bomb detonates and over-exposes a sensor then presumably it's going to be back to working fine a second later when the explosion is over.

Also, I've mentioned this before, but after MIRV separation, there might not be any exhaust velocity or acceleration to measure in order to work out mass; assuming you can actually see and measure the exhaust in the first place, you would really only be measuring the mass of the discarded boost stage.
As I've mentioned before even if you shut down everything and run very cold your previous speed and heading is likely to be known (unless we're assuming that military space ships wont have simple technology like IR sensors and a tracking computer). So even if you were completely invisible you'd be as easy to shoot as a fish in a barrel.

If they're close enough to blast your missiles with lasers as they launch, doesn't that imply you're close enough to blast them back and possibly jam them?
That was part of my point but even if they weren't close enough unless they have very good engines they're going to crawl across interplanetary space. I'm not sure why the defender (presumably with a fusion drive as GTOM has indicated) wouldn't just out maneuver them and pick them off from a distance with beam weapons.
 

Ryan_m_b

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Ok i decided the following: at first laser fighters. If they maintain 1g acceleration they arent trivial to hit precisely from a lightsec. Maybe they arent really good against a battleship with much bigger armor and firepower ( although if they can get into right angle to attack radiators ) but good against a convoy.
Depends how many there are. If you assume a squadron of ten each capable of putting out a MJ beam then every salvo from them is the equivalent of 5-10 tank shells. Even with a slow rate of fire it seems like it could add up to a lot of damage, especially if they hit thrusters to limit the battleships ability to dodge.

Then with help of alien metal missiles will be introduced as new fearful weapon. They will be lidar invisible able to contain heat for hours in inertial phase while modify their position with thethers ( connect a squadron with cables ) and near unkillable with lasers.
Well fair enough. It's your story if you want to take it down that route. The Polity novels had a similar technology, an alien race could produce this exotic metal armour that would absorb massive amounts of energy and re-radiate it out into space. Don't think such a thing is physically plausible based on what we know now but it is SF after all.
 
I can't find much information on how much those would have massed (pictures of NERVA and PLUTO look a fair size bigger than those warheads) but we can use the rocket equation to figure out how good such an engine would be. A bit of googling suggests an exhaust velocity of 9kmps. Mass ratio for different delta Vs:

10kmps - 3.03
20kmps - 9.22
50kmps - 256.67
100kmps - 66910.49

So if you have a nuclear thermal MIRV massing X tonnes it will need that ratio of fuel above for those speeds. Not going anywhere fast it doesn't seem, unless GTOM is allowing really small fusion drives in his setting. Even if you could accelerate one up to 100kmps it would take 50 minutes to cross a light second.
I wonder if smaller rocket-propelled missiles could actually be launched from a railgun for higher acceleration and to save on fuel and mass. But we're kind of talking in circles here—speed only matters if you don't think stealth or countermeasures could protect them.

If a bomb detonates and over-exposes a sensor then presumably it's going to be back to working fine a second later when the explosion is over.
Can we be sure of that? Thermonuclear weapons can be very versatile. The blast characteristics and emissions can be modified in all sorts of ways. They can be "enhanced radiation weapons" like neutron bombs, throwing out specific kinds of emissions and particles. They can be nuclear shaped charges, which (instead of a spherical blast) direct a jet or cone-shaped blast in a desired direction. If designed for it, they could even channel their blasts into a tight beam like a kind of x-ray or gamma-ray laser. I don't even think it would be very difficult to design a missile with an outer casing that could adjust itself in-flight to alter the shape and emission profile of its blast.

As I've mentioned before even if you shut down everything and run very cold your previous speed and heading is likely to be known (unless we're assuming that military space ships wont have simple technology like IR sensors and a tracking computer). So even if you were completely invisible you'd be as easy to shoot as a fish in a barrel.
If your missile launch is observed by an enemy capable of attacking it with lasers, then you're also close enough to attack or jam that enemy with your own lasers, and therefore, you can't assume the enemy would be aware of the speed and heading of your missiles. Also, once the MIRVs separate from the launch stage, that data is no longer applicable. The MIRVs could have rockets of their own, or just RCS thrusters. And if they're only eight inches long (tactical nuclear warheads are) and traveling at relatively high velocity, and making random minor course adjustments, hitting them with a laser at a distance of a light-second would seem to pose a challenge even for an advanced computer, and that's all assuming that none of their stealth and countermeasures work at all.
 

Ryan_m_b

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I wonder if smaller rocket-propelled missiles could actually be launched from a railgun for higher acceleration and to save on fuel and mass. But we're kind of talking in circles here—speed only matters if you don't think stealth or countermeasures could protect them.
Quite.

Can we be sure of that? Thermonuclear weapons can be very versatile. The blast characteristics and emissions can be modified in all sorts of ways. They can be "enhanced radiation weapons" like neutron bombs, throwing out specific kinds of emissions and particles. They can be nuclear shaped charges, which (instead of a spherical blast) direct a jet or cone-shaped blast in a desired direction. If designed for it, they could even channel their blasts into a tight beam like a kind of x-ray or gamma-ray laser. I don't even think it would be very difficult to design a missile with an outer casing that could adjust itself in-flight to alter the shape and emission profile of its blast.
Unless you're pretty close to the enemy I don't see how any of that matters.

If your missile launch is observed by an enemy capable of attacking it with lasers, then you're also close enough to attack or jam that enemy with your own lasers, and therefore, you can't assume the enemy would be aware of the speed and heading of your missiles. Also, once the MIRVs separate from the launch stage, that data is no longer applicable. The MIRVs could have rockets of their own, or just RCS thrusters. And if they're only eight inches long (tactical nuclear warheads are) and traveling at relatively high velocity, and making random minor course adjustments, hitting them with a laser at a distance of a light-second would seem to pose a challenge even for an advanced computer, and that's all assuming that none of their stealth and countermeasures work at all.
An enemy could be extremely far away and observe your missiles. There's no line of sight in space, detection depends on the size of your sensors and the wavelength being observed. Not only that but sensors across a ship and between different ships can act as interferometers forming extremely capable long range sensors. If we're positing a world where space combat is a part of life then you can bet that sensors will constantly be scanning the whole sky, tracking as many ships in the system as possible and looking for things like a MIRV launch.

MIRVs separating presumably requires some form of power, that means there's a source of heat on the missile that can be detected. If their making random course corrections there's also a source of power and an exhaust emission. You mention travelling fast but unless they're travelling extremely fast crossing a distance like a light second is going to take on the order of hours. Plenty of time to shoot down with long range beam weapons or simply fly away if you're in a ship.
 
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If their making random course corrections there's also a source of power and an exhaust emission. You mention travelling fast but unless they're travelling extremely fast crossing a distance like a light second is going to take on the order of hours. Plenty of time to shoot down with long range beam weapons or simply fly away if you're in a ship.
I proposed tether propulsion for the first part, if there are 100m long nanotube cables, the missiles can be (almost) anywhere in a 100m circle. (Connect them and rotate them around each other, pull the cables, or let them loose)
But i dont deny, with deep space conditions, on similar tech level, detection is the easier thing.
(For my other, FTL setting, the alienware missiles will have another upgrade, if they are destroyed, they emit a strong directed X-pulse, so they hit back. i think i name the magitech material pulsarium. )
Although i dont rule out some stealth attack part in orbit (launch magitech drone from landing cargo shuttle in order to hack PDF satellite).
Or people rebel on liberated in Red Army style planet when third partys fleet comes. When occupy force fleet turn sensors toward coming fleet, attack them in the back with missiles (boost them on other side of planet, and contain their heat with some liquid helium for a time)
 

Ryan_m_b

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I proposed tether propulsion for the first part, if there are 100m long nanotube cables, the missiles can be (almost) anywhere in a 100m circle. (Connect them and rotate them around each other, pull the cables, or let them loose)
Assuming they weren't observed deploying the enemy could just shoot in the middle of that 100m and sever the tether, sending either ship/missile flying off. To reconnect/correct the course they'd have to power up.

But i dont deny, with deep space conditions, on similar tech level, detection is the easier thing.
It is the most different aspect of space compared to other forms of human experience, line of site is essentially infinite which changes a lot of strategy and tactics.

(For my other, FTL setting, the alienware missiles will have another upgrade, if they are destroyed, they emit a strong directed X-pulse, so they hit back. i think i name the magitech material pulsarium. )
Alienware have moved onto missiles in your setting eh? Guess gaming isn't that lucrative in the future :-p


Although i dont rule out some stealth attack part in orbit (launch magitech drone from landing cargo shuttle in order to hack PDF satellite).
Or people rebel on liberated in Red Army style planet when third partys fleet comes. When occupy force fleet turn sensors toward coming fleet, attack them in the back with missiles (boost them on other side of planet, and contain their heat with some liquid helium for a time)
Stealth in orbit may be possible, I'm not hugely convinced that heat dumps would last very long (moving heat around takes energy which costs heat so you're constantly expending increasing amounts of energy to contain an increasing amount of heat).

Still a big thing that we've not touched on is subterfuge. You might be able to sneak weapons close to a fleet, for example: hiding a nuke aboard a trading ship that travels nearby then sabotages its own systems and sends out an SOS.
 
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Assuming they weren't observed deploying the enemy could just shoot in the middle of that 100m and sever the tether, sending either ship/missile flying off. To reconnect/correct the course they'd have to power up.
Other setups are also possible, like connect three, and they dont even know the radius of the circle.

It is the most different aspect of space compared to other forms of human experience, line of site is essentially infinite which changes a lot of strategy and tactics.

I have compared it to chess, you can see whole board.



Stealth in orbit may be possible, I'm not hugely convinced that heat dumps would last very long (moving heat around takes energy which costs heat so you're constantly expending increasing amounts of energy to contain an increasing amount of heat).
Yes, doing it for long time surely isnt realistic.

Still a big thing that we've not touched on is subterfuge. You might be able to sneak weapons close to a fleet, for example: hiding a nuke aboard a trading ship that travels nearby then sabotages its own systems and sends out an SOS.
Yes, such things will be really important in my story.
 
Unless you're pretty close to the enemy I don't see how any of that matters.
Found a description of what some shaped-charge applications could look like:

orionpunit.jpg


Back in the 1960's, rocket scientist came up with the infamous "Orion Drive." This was basically a firecracker under a tin can. Except the tin can is a spacecraft, and the firecracker is a nuclear warhead.

Anyway, they realized that about 90% of the nuclear energy of an unmodified nuclear device would be wasted. The blast is radiated isotropically, only a small amount actually hits the pusher-plate and does useful work. So they tried to figure out how to channel all the blast in the desired direction. A nuclear shaped charge.

Remember that in the vacuum of space, most of the energy of a nuclear warhead is in the form of x-rays. The nuclear device is encased in a radiation case of x-ray opaque material (uranium) with a hole in the top. This forces the x-rays to exit only from the hole. Whereupon they run full tilt into a large mass of beryllium oxide (channel filler).

The beryllium transforms the nuclear fury of x-rays into a nuclear fury of heat. Perched on top of the beryllium is the propellant: a thick plate of tungsten. The nuclear fury of heat turns the tungsten plate into a star-core-hot spindle-shaped-plume of ionized tungsten plasma. The x-ray opaque material and the beryllium oxide also vaporize a few microseconds later, but that's OK, their job is done.

The tungsten plasma jet hits square on the Orion drive pusher plate, said plate is designed to be large enough to catch all of the plasma. With the reference design of nuclear pulse unit, the plume is confined to a cone of about 22.5 degrees. About 85% of the nuclear device's energy is directed into the desired direction, which I think you'd agree is a vast improvement over 10%.

About this time the representatives of the military (who were funding this project) noticed that if you could make the plume a little faster and with a narrower cone, it would no longer be a propulsion system component. It would be a nuclear directed energy weapon. Thus was born project Casaba-Howitzer.

Details are scarce since the project is still classified after all these years. Tungsten has an atomic number (Z) of 74. When the tungsten plate is vaporized, the resulting plasma jet has a relatively low velocity and diverges at a wide angle (22.5 degrees). Now, if you replace the tungsten with a material with a low Z, the plasma jet will instead have a high velocity at a narrow angle ("high velocity" meaning "a recognizable fraction of the speed of light"). The jet angle also grows narrower as the thickness of the plate is reduced. This is undesirable for a propulsion system component (because it will destroy the pusher plate), but just perfect for a weapon (because it will destroy the enemy ship).

The report below suggests that the practical minimum half angle the jet can be focused to is 5.7° (0.1 radians).

They would also be perfect as an anti-ballistic missile defence. One hit by a Casaba Howitzer and a Soviet ICBM would be instantly vaporized. Which is why project Casaba-Howitzer's name came up a few times in the 1983 Strategic Defense Initiative.

Casaba Howitzers fired from orbit at ground targets on Terra would be inefficient, which is not the same as "does no damage." A nuclear warhead fired at a ground target would do far more damage, but the Casaba Howitzer bolt is instantaneous, non-interceptable, and would still do massive damage to an aircraft carrier.

Scott Lowther has done some research into a 1960's design for an Orion-drive battleship. It was to be armed with naval gun turrets, minuteman missiles with city-killing 20 megatons warheads, and Casaba-Howitzer weapons. It appears that the Casaba-Howitzer charges would be from subkiloton to several kilotons in yield, be launched on pancake booster rockets until they were far enough from the battleship to prevent damage (several hundred yards), whereupon they would explode and skewer the hapless target with a spear of nuclear flame. The battleship would probably carry a stockpile of Casaba-Howitzer weapons in the low hundreds.

Mr. Lowther estimates that each Casaba-Howitzer round would have a yield "up to a few kilotons" and could deliver close to 50% of that energy in the spear of nuclear flame. Three kilotons is 1.256 × 1013 joules, 50% of that is 6.276 × 1012 joules per bolt.

This is thirty-five times as powerful as a GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, the second most powerful non-nuclear weapon ever designed. Per bolt.

Get a copy of the report for more details, including a reconstruction of a Casaba-Howitzer charge.

What is the mass and volume of a Casaba-Howitzer charge? Apparently this also is still classified. An Orion Drive nuclear pulse unit would be about 1,150 kg, have a blast yield of about 29 kilotons, and be a cylinder with a radius of 0.4 meters and a height of 0.87 meters. The volume would therefore be about 0.4 cubic meters. As previously mentioned a Casaba-Howitzer charge would have a yield ranging from sub-kiloton to a few kilotons, so presumably it would be smaller and of lower mass than a pulse unit.


http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/spacegunconvent.php

There are some other applications there, very interesting reading.

MIRVs separating presumably requires some form of power, that means there's a source of heat on the missile that can be detected. If their making random course corrections there's also a source of power and an exhaust emission.
Yeah, there'd be an exhaust emission, but you're saying your sensors could detect and accurately measure the tiny plume of expellant gas from a 25-centimeter MIRV's RCS thrusters from a light-second away? Seems incredible. Even if you could scan the entire sky with that much accuracy, and you fired your laser as soon as you measured it, by the time your laser reached the position you plotted, the MIRV could simply have made another random minor adjustment, and this is assuming you have a rapid-fire laser that could keep up the firing rate. And the missile could use other launch systems (railgun etc.) that wouldn't produce any exhaust capable of being tracked.

edit: fixed some numbers given above
 
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Found a description of what some shaped-charge applications could look like:


There are some other applications there, very interesting reading.
I am skeptical about that, on other threads, they mentioned, they could achieve some directivity, but not much.
Anyway we are at the point, that the missile itself should spit directed beams, than i like more the laser fighter thing, it cant expend that much energy, but more able to focus on radiators, hot lasercannons.

Otherwise, i had the following thoughts : yes, the ship propulsion require much more power than the cannon, but an entire 50 ton propulsion system takes that heat.
In case of a laser, the surface of the mirror, or the focusing lenses has to take pretty much heat (if i remember correctly that xaser focuses with a Be prism)
Hannibal's method of cracking rocks in the Alps was heat them up, then cool them rapidly.
So, present day high power lasers has pretty low rate of fire, hours, i guess it can be helped, but in the future probably their rate of fire will be still low. That at least gives more time to beam rockets to get close enough to do serious damage.

Maybe big battleships should have some bomb-pulsed system, that has enermous power in order to counter PDF cannons, but has a really low rate of fire, so a big battleship isnt really good against squadrons of smaller ships, it needs escort.

Yeah, there'd be an exhaust emission, but you're saying your sensors could detect and accurately measure the tiny plume of expellant gas from a 25-centimeter MIRV's RCS thrusters from a light-second away? Seems incredible. Even if you could scan the entire sky with that much accuracy, and you fired your laser as soon as you measured it, by the time your laser reached the position you plotted, the MIRV could simply have made another random minor adjustment, and this is assuming you have a rapid-fire laser that could keep up the firing rate. And the missile could use other launch systems (railgun etc.) that wouldn't produce any exhaust capable of being tracked.

edit: fixed some numbers given above
I have read about the sensitivity of James Webb's IR cam. If tenth of it is true, they shouldnt have any problem detecting a speeding rocket from light seconds.
 
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I had another idea (for the later, operatic setting)
Send swarms of micromissiles about a cm cross section. Even with a nrad spread, from a long distance, much of the energy is wasted.
They form a hive mind for flare rejection and things like that.
(It is rare to employ such things against fighters for cost reasons, but they rather throwing EMP bombs to confuse them in terminal phase, so they can be dodged.)

Well it shouldnt be the only instance of using some kind of micro or nano weapons, although cost issues can prevent make a ground war entirely with theese stuff.
 
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It's worth noting as well that there are other forms of beam weapon that couldn't be so easily reflected, for example: particle beams, FELs and X-Ray lasers. In regards to the idea of swarming missiles sure: if you can deploy in such numerical strength then you'll win. But working with the assumptions I mentioned in the previous paragraph an attacker would need to launch 5 missiles at the defender to be sure of a win, and that's if they have only one point defence laser. If they have 10 you need to launch 41.
About the X-FEL thing :

"Rigorous derivation from Maxwell's equations gives the divisor of 2 and the proportionality constant. In an X-ray FEL the typical undulator wavelength of 1 cm is transformed to X-ray wavelengths on the order of 1 nm by {\displaystyle \gamma }https://wikimedia.org/api/rest_v1/media/math/render/svg/a223c880b0ce3da8f64ee33c4f0010beee400b1a ≈ 2000, i.e. the electrons have to travel with the speed of 0.9999998c."

Doesnt that mean, that the process is very inefficient due to the big relativistic mass?
 
One reason for using missiles would be "because you can". A mixed weapon arsenal gives you more options than just one system. Missiles could be used as a threat to herd the enemy toward a specific location. They could also be used to lay mines, those would be waiting for the enemy to come at you from a specific direction. Send the missiles out to an intermediate location and redirect them when you're sure of the enemy's course. They would also require less power from the ship's systems, especially if they're "fire-and-forget" types. Missiles could be fired at more than one enemy, or more enemies than can be covered by the lasers. They would also be useful against non-ship targets, such as surface installations. Our terrestrial warships carry a mixed bag of systems to enable them to counter more threats.
 
Oh, and one way to give the reader information without preaching would be to have senior officers instructing midshipmen. Q&A sessions about their studies, or hands-on training sessions. (My wife would call this "Hogwarts in space.")
 
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One reason for using missiles would be "because you can". A mixed weapon arsenal gives you more options than just one system. Missiles could be used as a threat to herd the enemy toward a specific location. They could also be used to lay mines, those would be waiting for the enemy to come at you from a specific direction. Send the missiles out to an intermediate location and redirect them when you're sure of the enemy's course. They would also require less power from the ship's systems, especially if they're "fire-and-forget" types. Missiles could be fired at more than one enemy, or more enemies than can be covered by the lasers. They would also be useful against non-ship targets, such as surface installations. Our terrestrial warships carry a mixed bag of systems to enable them to counter more threats.
Good ideas. Although most combat will be in the asteroid belt, they can solve bombardment by moving things to the opposite side (unless attack from two opposite direction a bit GO like style), dig deep the reactor.
I think missiles can be most useful, when there is a fuel producing asteroid, they can build masses of missiles very cheap, and enemy ships has to come close to capture the place. (Usually no big ones come close until fast agile fighters sorrounded and scanned the entire place.)
Information handle is a good question, i usually narrate that, and try to avoid too big infoblocks.
 

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