Kolyma's Shadow: An Alternate Space Race

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by nixonshead, May 11, 2014.

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  1. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    So, Michel, what would be the theoretical best ISP of a nitric acid/kerosene mix? Close to N2O4/kerosene or very inferior?

    I seem to remember an earlier exchange with you some years ago where you shared a paper that pointed out that realistically, the mix of propellant with the structure Lutz Kayser was actually going to use had a much lower ISP than the 300 range. It pointed out that with the "blowdown" pressurization system, where a fixed mass of air would expand to fill the whole volume, the pressure would drop to 1/3 the initial 40 atmospheres; at 13 1/3 atmospheres the performance of the chamber would be significantly lower. Also of course with ablative chamber and nozzle, the erosion of these surfaces would hurt performance too toward the end of the burn.

    Factoring all that in, the realized average ISP would be considerably lower than theoretical.
     
  2. dimovski Member

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    Actually, I meant to ask why OTRAG was the 1st to propose N2O4/Kerosene...
    http://www.astronautix.com/engines/otrag.htm, even if dilluted with nitric.

    Now, assuming a 260-ish for H2NO3 and 320-ish Isp for N2O4, 300s seems sort of reasonable as the mean specific impulse, right?

    Cost of the oxidizer appears to be a rather trivial factor for every other space launcher but OTRAG...
     
  3. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    i was focus on economy, OTRAG try to build cheap launcher.


    [​IMG]
    ISP on Propellant is tricky on OTRAG Rocket because pressure fed, with valves controlled by a wiper motor and graphite engine nozzles.
    Lutz Kayser claimed a ISP of 269 sec at sea level and 296 sec in Vacuum, for Nitric acid and Diesel fuel.
    Analysts and his own (former) engineers declare that OTRAG engines produce only a ISP of 183 sec at sea level and 214 sec in Vacuum.
    Using N2O4/Kerosine would give on OTRAG engine 187 sec at sea level and 233 sec in vacuum.
    a marginal increase on payload, while Propellant cost increase by factor thirty !

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    I'm told by one of the authors of Eyes Turned Skyward that generally speaking, propellent costs are a small percentage of the whole cost of a launch. But Lutz Kayser was on a quest to bring the costs down to a truly fantastic degree; every aspect of his system takes the cheapest approach imaginable. Why lots of little pipe units for instance? Because they could be fashioned in a highly standardized way, and were so small gangs of men could pick them up and carry them rather than using machinery to move them around. Blowdown pressurization using air instead of say nitrogen or even carbon dioxide; engines carved from asbestos blocks; it goes on and on.

    The major costs of a launch, outweighing the cost of propellant, apparently, are the material costs of the dry equipment, the costs of the payload itself, and the infrastructure to handle the launch system--including a high overhead cost. One needs large numbers of very highly skilled, experienced rocket workers, and has to pay their wages and salaries for the whole year, not just those weeks or months when a modest launch program might require them. Kayser sought to minimize every one of these cost elements with ultra-simplifications.

    The more successful he would be with all those other line items, the more important the cost of the propellants would become, relatively.

    I have never understood how the upper component of the propellant mix, stored in the upper segment of a single pipe unit, was supposed to get down to the engine. Presumably through narrow feed lines not ever shown in the illustrations, running along the outside of the lower section of pipe?

    I think Keyser missed a simplification bet; if we had a cluster of seven pipes instead of 4, the bundle would be more mechanically stable, and I think it would have been possible to have either 2 or 3 of them (the latter for a distinctly fuel-rich mix) filled with kerosene, and the remaining 5 or 4 filled with the acid oxidant. Such a unit of 7 pipes would mass more than his proposed cluster of 4, of course, but there would also be more area on which to mount bigger engines.

    This still doesn't address your question of why none of the by-now many players in the rocket biz (counting not just space-launching powers but many more nations and companies interested in making rockets for military purposes) have tried either nitric acid or the more expensive but slightly better performing N204 along with kerosene. Presumably some of the more nuanced hypergolic oxidant mixes developed by US, Soviet and later groups could also serve to burn kerosene.

    I suppose as nixonshead suggests, people willing to work with nitrogen tetroxide were already prepared to work with a corresponding hypergolic fuel; the tricks needed to light the OTRAG engine initially would not be needed; simply spraying the two together would light them.
     
  5. nixonshead Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I love this one :D OTL, Star Wars is already 90% a fantasy movie, so transporting it to a magical land seems a pretty good fit (heck, even the OTL movie points out Vadar’s “sorcerer's ways”).

    Well, these things tend to go in waves, so I suspect the supremacy of fantasy over sci-fi will not be a permanent state of affairs. If we wanted to go totally ASB, we could suggest movies based on a bunch of cheesy comic-book characters taking over the box office, but that seems unlikely... ;)

    Given my current predilection for taking on more projects than I can handle, I wouldn’t rule anything out… But it’s not likely before TWR reaches the end of its run. Anyway, I don't think my input could improve further on its already high standards. Of course, I have contributed to TWR in other ways, and hope to continue to do so.


    In fact the cancellation of Doctor Who after its first six series’ was raised back in Part III Post #10 , when star Geoffrey Bayldon’s fees became more than the show could bear - and you couldn’t cast another actor to play such a beloved character, could you?

    Regarding Blake’s Quest, it’s not exactly Game of Thrones - can you imagine Aunty Beeb standing for that much sex and violence in the 1970s? :eek: IOTL they’d only really get into that formula with Rome (which of course was co-produced with HBO), though Lady Chatterley did much to advance the sex half of the equation (and starred Sean Bean, another GoT connection now I think about it...).

    For the OTRAG discussion, rest assured I’m taking careful notes… Just in case I should need them someday… ;)
     
  6. Kirk Kerman Kerbal Rocketeer

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    This explanation makes sense, but it doesn't make any of what you've done okay.
     
  7. nixonshead Well-Known Member

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    On the bright side: No prequels! :D
     
  8. Roger Redux The Revisionist

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    The Mother of all ASBs (a.k.a. "The Real World")
    *Insert whiny Anakin clip here* :D
     
  9. Michel Van Well-Known Member

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    this one ?
    [​IMG]

    :rolleyes:
     
  10. Threadmarks: Part IV Post#09: Space Wars

    nixonshead Well-Known Member

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    Last week we were introduced to TTL’s version of the movie Star Wars. This week, we take a look at TTL’s counterpart of that film’s OTL military namesake in...

    [​IMG]

    Part IV Post#09: Space Wars

    It was somewhat ironic that as East-West relations were improving, the capabilities of the Superpowers to wage war in space had never been stronger. By 1980, satellite reconnaissance and communications capabilities had evolved beyond their initial strategic role to become a vital tactical edge on the battlefield. The development of spy satellite capable of downlinking their images to the ground rather than having to wait days or weeks for a film drop, coupled with global satellite communications via mobile receiving stations, meant that commanders in the field could have images of enemy movements in their hands on the same day they were taken. The launch by both sides of dedicated geostationary relay satellites meant that it was not even necessary to wait for a spysat to pass over a ground station - the low-orbiting spacecraft could instead signal one of the geostationary birds, which would relay the data back to base with minimal delay. Similarly, networks of weather satellites allowed moderately accurate forecasts to be made up to a week in advance, giving vital input to planning future offensives, whilst experiments with satellite positioning systems promised to enable ships, planes and soldiers to navigate with unprecedented accuracy on the battlefields of the 1980s. At the strategic level, both sides employed sophisticated networks of early warning satellites, which would instantly raise the alarm should either side launch a surprise nuclear strike against the other.

    Inevitably, as the value of space-based capabilities increased to the military of one side, so the denial of those capabilities became more attractive to their opponent. By the end of the 1970s, both the USA and USSR deployed a range of anti-satellite capabilities intended to deny the sky to the enemy. The longest running of these ASAT programmes was the Soviet “Istrebitel Sputnikov” (“Fighter Satellite”) system managed by Chelomei’s OKB-1. Tracing its origins all the way back to the Council of Ministers decree of 1959, the IS (given the operational code-name “Agat”) was a derivative of Chelomei’s Raketoplan system, using a customisation of the AOO module that had been used so successfully in applications as diverse as the Orel spaceplane and the TMK-Mars probes. At the front of this service module was mounted a large radar dish, whilst the destruction of the target was to be carried out by explosive canisters, which would spray high speed shrapnel at the enemy. Designed as a co-orbital interceptor, Agat would take its time in stalking its prey, gradually shifting its orbit to match its opponent. The satellite would then be able to conduct a close inspection of the target before either destroying it outright, or going into hibernation for up to six months, ready to be triggered as needed upon command from the ground.

    The first test flights of the Agat system were conducted in 1966, but it wasn’t until 1971, at the peak of Shelepin’s military build-up, that the system was declared operational. Between 1971 and 1975, the Soviets conducted a total of fifteen Agat launches (two of which failed), mostly into the low polar orbits favoured by American spy satellites. The objective was to have two or three Agats on-orbit at any given time, similar to the concept of patrolling nuclear missile submarines. In the event of increased tensions on the ground, these “space mines” could be quickly repositioned towards potential targets, ready to strike should hostilities break out. The effectiveness of this approach was hotly debated with both the CIA and Soviet military circles, but concern on the US side was sufficient to provoke a major upgrade in the manoeuvring capabilities of the NRO’s spy satellites to give them a chance of “dodging” any Soviet ASAT that looked to be heading their way. Such a capability would have been valuable in 1972, when an Agat spacecraft designated Kosmos-162 collided with USA-130, disabling both spacecraft. The collision was apparently the result of a command failure by Soviet ground controllers, who had been intending only to make a close approach to the American spy satellite. Neither side was keen to publicise the incident, but within the American intelligence community it further highlighted the threat posed by such systems.

    The USA-130 collision also showed up some of the operational issues Chelomei was having with maintaining a standing force on-orbit, which together with the costs involved led to a gradual reduction in the number of Agats on-orbit to just one or two at a time from 1975 onwards, until in 1979 the standing space-based force was decommissioned altogether. Aside from costs, the permanent stationing of weapons in orbit was proving a sticking point in negotiations over NALT, with the Americans questioning why they should agree to relax their nuclear posture when the USSR retained such an obvious capability to disable US early warning satellites and launch a sneak attack. The logic of this position was highly questionable, but the Soviet leadership felt that removing the increasingly obsolete system was a cheap way of gaining bargaining points. By this time Chelomei was already developing a launch-on-demand replacement system called “Oniks”, using Kulik’s R-38 rocket to maintain a standing force of up to twenty Oniks interceptors in protected silos. These could be launched at short notice, maintaining most of the tactical capability of the original Agat, but their less visible basing would make them easier for American diplomats to accept, especially in the light of the USA’s own ASAT systems.

    On the American side, early expectations that Dynasoar might be used for routine satellite inspection and (if necessary) elimination operations had quickly faded. Aside from the difficulties of achieving intercept with targets of interest (especially given the failure of experiments in synergistic plane change manoeuvres to show an advantage over propulsive orbit changes), there was also a concern over the potential loss of Air Force astronauts and their valuable spaceplane to a booby-trapped opponent. US satellites had long included self-destruct charges, primarily to ensure no sensitive equipment could survive re-entry and be picked up by the enemy. These would normally be triggered by ground command at the end of the satellite’s mission, but there was no reason they couldn’t be triggered earlier. In fact, the Air Force had planned for such an eventuality in case a Soviet mission should show signs of attempting to retrieve a US spacecraft or its components. Presumably, the Soviets would have wired their spysats in a similar way, and if they chose to set off their charges as Dynasoar made its approach there was a real danger of the glider taking damage that would preclude a safe re-entry. Overall, the Air Force concluded that the marginal benefits were not worth the substantial risk.

    For both superpowers, the need for satellite inspection was in a large part met by networks of large, ground-based telescopes, including optical tracking as well as both passive radio and active radar systems. Here the Americans enjoyed a significant advantage, having agreements with a number of allied nations that allowed them almost total coverage of the planet’s skies, with Australia providing a particularly vital link with its southern hemisphere perspective and wide expanses of empty, dark and radio-quiet outback. The Soviets by contrast were largely limited to their own national territory, with tracking ships giving some supplementary cover whenever the costs could be justified. This left them with a considerable coverage gap, especially in the south, which US spacecraft controllers could exploit to conduct manoeuvres away from prying Soviet eyes, allowing their satellites to change orbits and appear unexpectedly over the horizon of targets of interest.

    For the removal of spacecraft of concern, the US quite literally opted for a more direct approach than the Soviets. Rather than employ a slow, cautious co-orbital approach by “space mines”, the USAF had developed a series of direct-ascent missiles that would fly straight from launch site to target. The first of these, dating back to the late 1950s, was “Bold Orion”, a solid propellant missile launched in mid air from a B-47 Stratojet bomber. Although never deployed operationally, Bold Orion made a number of successful test flights that, had the missile been equipped with its intended nuclear warhead, would have destroyed its target. Bold Orion was followed by a similar project, High Virgo, this time launching from a B-58 Hustler. Both of these experimental projects provided valuable input to the US’ first operational ASAT system, Starbolt.

    Starbolt was an outgrowth of the Skybolt ALBM programme which had come so close to cancellation in 1962. Although Skybolt ultimately survived, thanks largely to its role as the centrepiece of the UK’s nuclear deterrent force, the near-death experience caused the Air Force to start looking into alternative uses for the missile to widen the base of support for the programme. Starbolt was part of this effort and, as proposed in 1963, would consist of a number of modified GAM-87’s carrying a 1 megaton W59 warhead, which could be launched either singly or in salvo from their B-52 bombers. Ascending on a high-apogee suborbital arc that crossed its target’s orbit, the manoeuvrable warhead would make adjustments in flight to close on its target before detonating, destroying the enemy.

    Starbolt was authorised by President Nixon shortly after his re-election in 1965, and test launches started in 1967. An initial squadron went operational in early 1969, but even then work was advancing on replacing the nuclear warhead with a so-called “kinetic kill” vehicle. This would avoid the worst risks of collateral damage inherent in the use of nuclear weapons, the detonation of which at high altitudes could not only damage any allied commercial or military spacecraft on a line-of-sight, but could also generate an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could cause significant damage to unshielded electronics on the ground, whilst the region of ionised plasma created blocked radio transmissions of a wide area. Perhaps even more importantly, testing of a kinetic-kill ASAT wouldn’t be bound by the stipulations of the 1961 Partial Test Ban Treaty, which had outlawed conducting nuclear explosions in the air or in space. Of course this legal constraint wouldn’t be a hindrance during wartime, but it did mean that full-up live fire tests of Starbolt were not permitted, leaving a lingering question mark over their effectiveness.

    Kinetic kill warheads could be and were tested extensively during the first half of the 1970s, with a variety of different warhead options tried out before the Starbolt-K missile and it’s “shotgun” style fragmentation warhead was commissioned into service in 1975. By 1980, Starbolt-K was deployed with three separate squadrons under Air Force Space Command, deploying a total operational force of six bombers and 24 missiles.

    This extension of mankind’s destructive capabilities into space generated increasing concern on the ground. Aside from the anti-war movements that had begun to appear by the early 1970s, the testing of explosive ASAT weapons on orbit by both sides was sparking opposition in some academic circles. In the West, the first studies of the potential for debris from ASAT testing or other in-space explosive events damaging operational spacecraft were conducted at NORAD in the 1960s. This work, and the NORAD tracking databases it was based upon, remained secret until 1972, when NORAD began publishing regular bulletins of space object orbital elements. Coinciding with the Starbolt-K tests, this raised public awareness of the amount of debris being generated in orbit, and dovetailed with the wider growth of the environmental movement. (The fact the vast majority of debris generated by Starbolt tests was on a suborbital trajectory that returned to Earth within an hour of launch was not widely appreciated - and most of those who did know were not greatly reassured by the idea of bomb shrapnel falling from the sky at ballistic speeds).

    The first serious attempt to systematically analyse the risks from orbital debris were made by Burton “Burt” Cour-Palais, a former structural engineer at Avro Canada who had joined NESSA’s Houston facility following Avro’s downsizing in the late 1960s. His first analysis resulted from efforts to characterise the potential impact hazard for probes crossing the asteroid belt, after which he went on to work on the early Halley probe definition studies, in the course of which her developed a keen understanding of the effects of high-velocity debris on spacecraft. In 1975, with ASAT deployment and testing at its peak, Cour-Palais used the newly available NORAD catalogue data to assess the probabilities of debris from ASAT testing causing a loss of one of NESSA’s polar orbiting Tempest weather satellites. In 1977 he generalised this study to postulate that a large enough debris generating event could go on to spark a chain reaction - later named a “CP Event” for its author - in which debris from the initial explosion would cause the break up of other satellites, the shrapnel of which would hit still more spacecraft. At its worst, a large CP Event might render an orbit unusable.

    Whilst Cour-Palais’ analysis was received with interest in academic circles, there was little official action taken to try to minimise space debris. The research suggested that, at current launch rates, the chances of a CP Event would remain minimal for a decade or more. A CP Event in wartime was considered more likely, but in comparison to the other effects of a global war with the Soviets (the only viable opponent for space-based combat), restricted access to space would be the least of everyone’s worries. However, his work was soon taken up and expanded by those within the Air Force charged with developing the most effective tactics for the use of ASATs, and was in particular cited in support of the wider use of so-called “soft-ASATs”.

    In addition to its missile-based ‘hard kill’ capability (for targets lower than 1 000 km, at least), Air Force Space Command also operated a number of secretive, high-powered electronic warfare transmitters, dubbed “Directed Radio Energy Weapons” capable of jamming communications to satellites in geostationary orbit and beyond. The jammers were even capable of causing permanent damage to their target by overloading the satellite’s delicate receivers and signal power boosters, turning their own sensitivity against them. Unlike the hard-ASAT capability, this type of soft-ASAT weapon would produce no cloud of potentially hazardous debris. They could also be used against a target in a graduated, and in some cases deniable fashion, making it a much more versatile military tool. Disabling the enemy’s space-based capabilities didn’t have to be an all-or-nothing effort to destroy the spacecraft; DREWs gave the option of temporarily deafening or selectively damaging the target.

    The Soviets deployed similar systems of their own, sparking a secretive arms race of more powerful weapons and more effective on-board protection measures. Between 1970 and 1980, the CIA estimated that US commercial and military spacecraft had been ‘buzzed’ by Soviet DREW systems more than fifty times, with permanent damage resulting on seven occasions. The US had deployed its own DREWs against Soviet satellites a similar number of times, with similar results, and by the beginning of the ‘80s a quick, low powered “DREW sweep” against an enemy satellite was seen as one more method of “firing a warning shot” during periods of tension, similar to increasing air patrols or sortieing warships. In addition to these radio jammers, both sides also experimented with high powered lasers to dazzle enemy optics, though none were considered ready for operational use by 1980.

    Manned missions were not exempt from this type of electronic interference, although incidents were far rarer and tended to be at lower power levels. Despite the risk of bad publicity that would result from a crew injury, or worse, being caused by a DREW pass, neither side could afford to ignore the fundamentally military character of its opponent’s manned space programme. Columbia missions were never targeted by Soviet DREWs, but Dynasoar flights found themselves illuminated on a number of occasions, as did several Chasovoy missions. These were normally quick, low-powered sweeps primarily intended as training exercises to ensure that, should the balloon ever go up, the DREWs would be able to target enemy manned vehicles as necessary. The only class of space vehicle treated as completely off limits to interference were the early warning satellites. The consequences of an opponent interpreting an attack on these as a prelude to a nuclear first strike was simply too great to risk, and so great pains were taken to avoid any actions that might be taken as threatening the missile warning networks.

    Such high-tech, exotic weapons systems inevitably came under scrutiny when budgets were reviewed, but in the cautious thaw of the late 1970s ASATs of both the soft and hard varieties were seen by both sides as giving reasonable value for money. As tensions eased, the likelihood of needing to deploy such weapons in anger receded, but few politicians felt the need to risk getting caught unawares should relations sour again. However, this view was not universally shared, and as the 1980 election season approached a number of prominent American politicians were increasingly willing to call out programmes they considered to be wasteful...
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  11. Workable Goblin Chronicler of the Pony Wars

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    I suppose this is the downside of having the space program being a lot more military--sure, you get neat toys like Dyna-Soar, but on the other hand there's a much larger "space" community in the Air Force, and of course this community is going to want to do more than just launch rockets and operate satellites--they're going to want to do actual war things. OTL efforts at ASATs have tended to be half-hearted at best, but ITTL, with a larger constituency to push the idea to the Joint Chiefs and Congress...
     
  12. Delta Force Banned

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    The equipment used for ASAT systems would be useful for an ABM system. I suppose if one exists it makes the other easier to acquire, since the sensors are billions of dollars to purchase and represent a major component of total system cost.
     
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  13. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    Only logical, since a ballistic missile's reentry vehicle is just a satellite in an orbit whose perigee happens to be below the surface of the earth...
     
  14. Delta Force Banned

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    Those are the ones you have to watch out. I'm not so sure an ASAT system is useful given that their use would likely be construed to be a first strike attempt. ABM systems are more defensively oriented, and there are scenarios outside of starting global thermonuclear war in which they can be useful.
     
  15. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    The only technical difference between an ASAT system and an ABM system is the reaction time required. You still need to get a kill vehicle up to near-orbital velocity and orbital altitude, and do so within a very narrow space/time corridor.

    If you can do ASAT without kicking off a debris cascade, there are a few possibilities there. The USA-193 shootdown is just one. Permanently degrading Navstar-type constellations is another - doesn't take much to go from 1 metre to 100 metre or 1 kilometre accuracy, but the military significance is huge.
     
  16. Delta Force Banned

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    There's a difference between satellite interference and a shootdown. An ASAT doesn't have much role outside of nuclear war if it ends up destroying everything in orbit, including the early warning satellites. That's why there is so much risk of escalation.
     
  17. TheBatafour Complete Anarchy

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    So, we're getting us some space wars this week! This cosmic warfare sure makes up for the lack of an actual Star Wars ITTL :p I find it quite hard to comment though, as I'm not aware of the developments in OTL. What are the main differences here?
    It's also quite sad to not have an image this week. What gives? I fully understand if you're just trying to conserve energy for all the other work you're doing, but it would be nice to see all this secret surveillance for real (well, as real as your renders can make it)!
    Nevertheless, great update. Keep up the good work Nixonshead :D
     
  18. Shevek23 Spherical Cow-poke

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    There are inherent differences between satellites and ballistic missile warheads though. A warhead is inherently robust; it must penetrate the atmosphere starting at near-orbital speeds, and it is only in flight for a fraction of an orbital period--half an hour or so. Its existence must first be discovered, then its exact flight path determined. A satellite on the other hand is inherently an object that has been placed into an orbit; a foe has a long time to determine its current orbital elements and thus its exact position. And since the function of most satellites inherently involves some kind of sensitive long-range detection of weak signals of some kind or other, it is inherently delicate and vulnerable. Mass is critical in designing a satellite, which must be placed into a full orbit.

    The two types of target will admittedly tend to converge as the arms race progresses. A first-generation warhead (where first-generation is defined here as being designed to simply carry out its mission without consideration of possible enemy counter-measures) will fly on a highly predictable trajectory--once one knows the likely launch points, trajectories to probable highest-value targets can be computed at leisure and defenses designed to target them along those paths. A first generation satellite will be quite delicate indeed. Responding to probable enemy counter-measures, both types will evolve to take advantage of less marginal rockets, the former acquiring more complex maneuverability and perhaps approaches to stealth or other forms of deception (such as spinning off lots of decoys--the best single approach is to make the initial launch sites unpredictable, best accomplished by submarine launchers) while the latter must be increasingly armored--either in the form of covering the standard delicate machinery in a layer of armor, or by making the components themselves far more robust. Most of these improvements will involve extra mass, and in the case of a satellite particularly, added dry mass also multiplies the thrust required for station-keeping and station-changing maneuvers. One might avoid the path of making warheads or satellites individually heavy by going over to launching a great multiplicity of targets, swarming the foe instead of throwing one extra-hard target, and one might swap armoring mass for lots of propellant to make either kind of target more maneuverable and thus unpredictable, but one way or another, one is throwing more mass into the sky, requiring more powerful and yet more reliable rockets.

    After a lot of iteration of this sort of evolution, I would be forced to accept the statement "ballistic warheads and satellites are similar sorts of target." But they certainly aren't inherently or at first!

    In this TL of course there are fewer legal and customary inhibitions on deployment or even actual use of weapons in space; the only hard restriction seems to be not to use nukes.

    Still I find it hard to believe the two sides could snipe at each other in ongoing low-grade warfare, at least while detente is being pursued on the ground. Such a situation might happen I suppose, both sides concluding that it amounts to a robust testing and development with the enemy kindly providing challenges to respond to.

    But it would be so costly and wasteful I'd think that instead the first such incident would result in the other side, who will be able to conclude full well not only that the other is attacking but which resource they are using to promote the attack, in first of all communicating directly (if perhaps through back channels) that they won't tolerate it and giving notice they will neutralize the offending spacecraft and then say no more about it, but in future they will do so without notice and at the same time denounce the attacks publicly, in the UN and other fora, presenting evidence as grounds for their retaliation. And so arrive at a truce, with or without formal treaties, whereby both sides refrain (on pain of another round of mutual destruction) and deploy relatively cost-effective and vulnerable satellites on the assumption they generally will not be attacked, while also developing in parallel robust ones to be launched en masse in the event of a severe deterioration in relations.

    For both warheads and satellites, one response to developing capabilities to damage or neutralize them would be saturation; to prepare so many payloads for quick launch on short notice that the cost of trying to stop them all is higher than the cost of replacing lost ones.

    Such an evolution would be fraught with uncertainty of course. An ABM system probably cannot be developed that can guarantee homeland safety; something or other will get through. The cost of losing even one city is realized, after the Cuban Missile Crisis anyway, to be higher than either side wants to contemplate casually. The balance of terror holds--except for the nagging fear that just perhaps, the enemy defenses are better than one anticipates, and perhaps they are willing to take heavy damage in the hope of wrecking the other side completely. Fundamentally defense remains a bet that neither side wants to face the inevitable heavy devastation even the "winner" must suffer, if their essential aims can be realized by less costly means.
     
  19. Linkwerk Member

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    Wasn't this rumored to have happened OTL? I have read in several places that the Soviets were said to have used a low-powered ground based dazzler laser to harass one of the DoD Shuttle missions.
     
  20. e of pi Layers on Top of Layers

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    In a way, the occasional "buzzing" of satellites with low-power DREWs ITTL might be considered as a space-borne equivalent of intentional bomber patrol airspace violations or (more aggressively) submarine close tails and (in some cases) near collisions that occurred throughout the Cold War, even periods of detente. I think the name of the game is being very careful to show you have the technology to track orbits and damage a satellite and providing a "warning shot" without actually seeking to do damage. It's one "nice" thing about soft ASAT--there's an intermediate way of demonstrating and reminding an enemy you have it without actively killing a satellite and risking a CP event while majorly rachetting up tensions.
     
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