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Weakness of Death Star

  1. Apr 27, 2015 #1
    I think about a space opera, and a Death Star like scenario in it.
    I intend to make it harder than SW. I had the following idea : they hollowed out a big metallic asteroid, spinned it up, kept a large portion of the outer layer as armor, and built a fusion reactor in the middle of it.
    They want to build a superweapon inside the well protected belly, the entryway is heavily fortified.
    However it is possible to enter inside the asteroid through other shafts (used for mining), big enough for a small manned spacecraft.
    What can be the weakness of such structure? I dont think that they just leave a wide open entryway to the reactor core. I also would like to rule out nukes (nations already get rid of all nukes, orbital bombardment is better)
    Can it be realistic to send a bomb into the reactor core through a large coolant pipe?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2015 #2
    No nukes?

    Detonate your own nuclear reactor?

    Send a swarm of tiny robots that would make a havoc traveling through coolant pipes?

    Those pipes can be really big:

    Just it seems for me that, there could be more than one coolant cycle. So the robot /bomb would have to drill through that such layer.
  4. Apr 28, 2015 #3
    They could build a nuke, if they really wanted to... however i think they no longer need uranium after switched to fusion power, a fusion reactor isnt a fusion bomb.
    So at first, mine enough uranium, centrifuge it etc... besides no one really wants to go nuclear, they dont intend to win a nuclear waste pile.

    Well, the asteroid super weapon facility was originally created by party A, later captured by party B. When they eventually try to shut the place dowm, party A still has the construction plans, party B couldnt rebuild everything.

    Well, they could build a pretty advanced robot, or a swarm of killer nanobots.
  5. Apr 28, 2015 #4
    So far making uncontrolled thermonuclear reaction was much easier ('60s?) than controlled one (still not working in useful manner in a.d. 2015). I'd think that overloading reactor would not be so hard...

    No back door left in software?

    One more idea. Buy a dozen of cheap torpedo designed for Earth oceans, reprogram them and launch though coolant pipes. :D
  6. Apr 29, 2015 #5
    It is not a nuclear blast, that creates the fusion in the reactor, it needs very strong lasers and magnetic fields, if they put more deuterium in the reactor, i can rather imagine, that it melts down. Of course meltdown is still a pretty bad thing...

    Question : would such meltdown make the environment heavily radioactive? Fusion reaction can create neutrons, but the result of fusion isnt nasty isotopes.

    Although if i think about it, if fighters run on nuclear thermo engines (and i see some nuclear stuff neccesary to their energy density) it is not that hard to breed the critical mass of isotopes... Still, using nukes, destroy space habitats are ugly war crimes, even when the "bad guys" starts to lose, they dont see, that comitting such things would help their survival. (And one of them can really keep her throne after the war.)

    The one built the place originally is the expert of construction. The other one captured it is the expert of robotics and software back doors.

    Ok, so there will be something similar. :)
  7. Apr 29, 2015 #6


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    There is a major issue with entering a spinning asteroid from any direction not aligned with the axis of rotation. It's doable if you've got a spacecraft that can continually adjust its orbital speed, but sending an unpowered bomb down a shaft is impossible as it'd collide with the shaft walls. Even for the craft it'd require some careful manoeuvring that's not conductive to being fast and stealthy. Also, it might no longer be possible to fire thrusters inside the shaft, where orbital adjustments are still necessary.

    Spinning your Death Star is a sensible thing to do!
  8. Apr 29, 2015 #7
    They send in manned spacecraft (usually they drone short range ships). The shafts were used for mining, they are really big, as a river, manuevering is still possible in them.

    Otherwise they did spinned up the asteroid, although i think it isnt usual, most times, they build a spin station near to asteroid, people regularly shift between the mines and undercity, and the base.
    (Spare all the energy needed to spin the asteroid, and structures there can take advantage of micro-gravity.)
  9. May 9, 2015 #8


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    Crash another asteroid into it?
  10. May 12, 2015 #9
    I always thought that if you had a Death Star sized vessel, that its main weakness would be its size.
    Something that large would be hard to defend from a smaller scale incursion. What would stop an opposing force from landing troops somewhere on the surface and establishing a beach head and proceeding to engage in a ground war? Or heck even then just drilling their own shaft down into the habitable, or critical areas and dropping nukes into it.
  11. May 12, 2015 #10

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    I think the Death Star is so far outside the realm of science that you can use anything you want. It's absurdly big - if it were populated with the density of crew of modern naval vessels, it would need a crew of trillions.
  12. May 13, 2015 #11
    So must of it will be deserted, that gives a number of stealth options.
    Asteroid bombardment is also a good idea... if you dont need a time critical solution.
  13. May 13, 2015 #12


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    I've always thought that most of the time large vessels in science fiction are actually worse than building multiple smaller vessels (assuming certain typical SF tropes). A larger vessel has a smaller surface area to volume ratio and you can only mount weapons on the surface. A rebel fleet of equal mass to the death star would have plenty more firepower thanks to being able to mount more guns. On top of that once the surface of the death star has been well and truly bombarded the inhabitants are trapped inside. You're design for a large hollowed out asteroid begs the question of why would an attacker bother trying to get inside and blow it up? Simply target and destroy the weapons, airlocks, docks, sensors and radiators on the surface. After that the giant vessel, even technically minimally damaged, simply becomes one giant tomb.
  14. May 13, 2015 #13
    I imagine the battleship is the king of deep space combat, and the mothership is the queen of orbital combat. The battleship has a giant spine weapon, a mass driver.

    The point is that one can have a large dock and factories inside. Bombing the surface only result in more or bigger entryways. Take out the radiators, isnt bad idea, although it takes quite a time, till that large mass overheats, the surface itself can radiate away lots of heat.
  15. May 13, 2015 #14


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    I really, really hate naval analogies in science fiction. Conflating space and the ocean is deeply flawed, I think it's much better to come up with a fit-for-purpose classification scheme.

    Bombarding the surface doesn't necessarily mean blowing holes in it, it could simply wreck what's embedded on it. And if you do make a hole that's a great target to then fire into.
  16. May 13, 2015 #15
    I couldnt come up with anything better yet, is there any work of fiction or something else that could help?
    (Moving is newtonian, but i dont have any idea of better terminology. )

    Wreck with earth... asteroidquakes? After a time, they could definitally reach the core, the point is time and enough resources. In my present story plan, the initial bombardment of the place takes out most of its defence, but the inside will remain rather fine, and the attacker fleet expended most of its bombs.
    Last edited: May 13, 2015
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