GENERAL DISCUSSIONS

Laser battles in space.

POSTED BY: HJERMSTED
UPDATED: Monday, March 22, 2004 11:20
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Friday, December 5, 2003 11:24 AM

HJERMSTED


I like that Firefly wasn't overly reliant on laser battles between ships in space. I can recall only a single energy beam of any kind (The Alliance cruiser destroying the reaver-infected colony ship). Laser battles in space indeed look cool, but they're kinda silly if you think about it.

What happens to those energy beams that miss their targets? We're talking about concentrated light here, correct? So those beams keep traveling until reflected/deflected, yes?

So laser battles that take place just outside of a planet's atmosphere can easily (and inadvertantly) cause a great deal of damage to the planet surface and any lifeforms there.

And planets much further away who suddenly find themselves bombarded by laser blasts from a distant battle they know nothing of... what do the inhabitants there think/do when that happens? Blame an angry god? Sue the local government? Construct deficit inducing space shields ala SDI?

I think there is at least one story that could be milked from this question. Firefly (with it's silent outerspace and lack of aliens) would have been the perfect show to explore what happens to this errant laser fire.

mattro

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Friday, December 5, 2003 11:47 AM

TALONPEST


Well, generally speaking it's safe to assume that most laser/energy based weapons have an effective range before they dissapate to the point where they're not really harmful, so planets further away than a few hundred kilometers probably wouldn't experience any damage at all. Like a laser pointer, no beam of light goes on indeffinately- dust, gasses, and whatever else gets in the way will weaken it, plus no matter how tightly you focus it it's going to spread out eventually over a few thousand kilometers.

As for fighting just above the atmosphere, it's possible that they could miss their targets and inadvertantly bombard the planet's surface... though when you think about it the likelyhood of hitting anything is pretty low. Hell, on an Earth-like planet, 70% of the time you'd hit water, and it's probably only half likely to hit a populated area. Most planets in the Firefly universe seem to be only a fraction as populated as Earth is, with the exception of the Core worlds, so that's even less of a threat. Plus, as I said above, gasses and dust would weaken a laser based weapon.

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Friday, December 5, 2003 12:33 PM

SERGEANTX


Way back in the olden days I used to play the space battles expansion for Traveller that assumed beam weapons were relatively easy to defend against with reflective coatings or particle clouds. Hence projectiles and missiles were still used a great deal.

The other thing I've notice conspicuously absent from the Firefly universe is advanced computer technology. I'm guessing Joss has some historical reason in mind for this, but it has been 500 years - I'd expect see AI as a more realistic possiblity as well as advance robotics involved in space travel/exploration. But we've really only been given a close few of the frontier worlds where advanced tech is sparse.


SergeantX

"..and here's to all the dreamers, may our open hearts find rest." -- Nanci Griffith

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Friday, December 5, 2003 12:41 PM

ZAPHODB


I really don't think the settler's ship from Bushwhacked was destroyed using lasers. It's looks more like missiles of some type or another. In regards to lasers missing their intended target and zipping through space, after a while the beam would start to spread and lose energy. Back in the seventies, astronomers bounced a laser beam off reflectors on the Moon left by the Apollo astronauts. The beam spread out a fair amount after leaving Earth. Granted weapons in the future would solve this problem, but I don't think anyone would be worried about being struck by a stray laser shot.

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Friday, December 5, 2003 3:50 PM

RISKEVERYTHING


In a continuation of this train of thought- bullets would actually be worse, as they will continue on their errant trajectories until caught by a gravity well (which would speed them up until impact)... and they don't dissipate.

The thing that confused me about Out of Gas, is why did the ship stop moving when the engine blew out? In space the ship would rely on momentum, not constant thrust, and one having reached it's speed it would continue at that speed with no further input from the engines.

I really like that they showed this in Objects in Space, when Early EVAed from his ship to Serenity while underway at what must be incredible speeds. One well-placed piece of space junk could have blew him apart.

There are also no "deflector dishes" or shields, it seems. So I wonder how they deal with running into dust and things in space. Even our primitive Space Shuttles take damage from hitting paint chips, nuts, bolts, and other "space junk" caught in orbit.

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Friday, December 5, 2003 6:02 PM

SERGEANTX


When traveling between systems the ships use a system of googly hops, whereby 3dimensional space is transversed by means of a subspace phase modulator. The resultant n-gravity wave actually moves the ship and the surrounding space across vast areas of space without concern for the intervening substances. Or so I have heard.

SergeantX

"..and here's to all the dreamers, may our open hearts find rest." -- Nanci Griffith

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Friday, December 5, 2003 6:30 PM

KASUO


Quote:

Originally posted by RiskEverything:
The thing that confused me about Out of Gas, is why did the ship stop moving when the engine blew out? In space the ship would rely on momentum, not constant thrust, and one having reached it's speed it would continue at that speed with no further input from the engines.



Mal opened the front bay to let out the fire, along with a significant amount of rushing atmo. This might have been enough to slow down Serenity by providing force opposite their course heading.


"Let's moon 'em!"

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Friday, December 5, 2003 9:34 PM

FREMDFIRMA


On what assumption do ya base the idea that she wasn't movin ?

Most visible stars are Soooooooo far away that you'd really have to be haulin ass to get any kind of perspective where they even seem to move a little, so unless you were going really, really fast...

"dead in the water" is a relative term, cause in space once ya start movin, ya tend to *keep* movin, see...

However, if you don't have the fuel/reaction mass to burn to change course (and apparently my impression is that Mals routes use a lot more course changes than the norm, being that he likes to stay away from other folk) well, then you're "dead in the water" - ya might be movin, but not in any kinda helpful direction, often as not... space is a BIG place yanno.

Most of the 'movement' we see Serenity do is in relative to close range, fixed-position objects or cameras, and thus, without a fixed point relatively close to her, how would you tell ?

They make give the impression, but it's likely a false one.

-frem
diefuxdie

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Saturday, December 6, 2003 2:49 PM

BROLAN


You also have to remember there are no visible laser beams in space. They only appear as a beam in air or other types of matter.

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Saturday, December 6, 2003 3:07 PM

SAMUS


Quote:

Originally posted by SergeantX:

The other thing I've notice conspicuously absent from the Firefly universe is advanced computer technology. I'm guessing Joss has some historical reason in mind for this, but it has been 500 years - I'd expect see AI as a more realistic possiblity as well as advance robotics involved in space travel/exploration. But we've really only been given a close few of the frontier worlds where advanced tech is sparse.



I think part of this can be explained by the fact that the show simply didn't have the time to explore a lot of things like this. With the 14 episodes we had, most of them were focused on character development, etc.

Another possible reason is that I think it was made fairly clear that some places were "flush with the new technologies" and "some not so much".
There were some definite class issues established that would probably been explored more in-depth if the show had lasted. I think technologies just weren't available equally - those with money and power probably had the most access. Mal & the Serenity crew lived on the fringe of society, so they probably didn't have access to a whole lot in terms of cutting-edge computers.

We only saw the alliance two or three times, so we don't really know the extent of the technology at their disposal. The hospital episode did show some pretty fancy imaging technology.

But I think the first reason is most important - simply not enough time. Who knows where the show might have gone.

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Saturday, December 6, 2003 5:45 PM

VETERAN

Don't squat with your spurs on.


One of the reason's there aren't a lot of laser battles, or space battles of any kind, is that Serenity has no armament.

Regarding AI and Aliens, I think that Joss' didn't want any in the 'verse. There are references to the "Cortex" though, but I think that's more like a "super internet" than anything else.

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Saturday, December 6, 2003 9:02 PM

SAMUS


Quote:

Originally posted by Veteran:
There are references to the "Cortex" though, but I think that's more like a "super internet" than anything else.



That's what I thought too! Glad I wasn't the only one. And yeah - I think Joss wanted to explore a space story with no aliens.

But I could see him working AI into his story - not saying he definitely would - but who knows? It wouldn't totally surprise me.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 2:35 AM

HOTPOINT


Never understood why people would use Lasers in space anyway? If you've got the power use it to run a Railgun/Mass Driver

You get infinite range and imagine the damage you could cause with a steel ball say 250mm across moving at tens of thousands of miles an hour

The Ammunition is cheap to make (pour the right mass of molten asteroidal iron in space and it's surface tension pulls it into a perfect sphere) and if you've got the power why use something that can be reflected or else takes time to burn through

Now stray Railgun Rounds hurtling through the 'Verse would be a hazard but statistically the chances of running into one would be really small. They'll be going way above escape velocity so you wouldn't find them in orbit they'll just be going somewhere random... really fast


...................................
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Friday, March 19, 2004 3:40 AM

GUNRUNNER


Well Hotpoint weapons tech always depends on what kind of defenses you are going to be facing. To put in modern terms if your enemy has very good anti-missile capabilities (Aegis cruisers and such) you should consider using torpedoes.

So it’s possible that a ship the size of an Alliance Cruiser could have thousands of defensive weapons, their equivalent of the CADS-N-1 (A Russian 30mm Gun and SAM system), or CIWS or SM-1/2/3 missiles.

A Missile/Projectile can be intercepted or deflected by another even at close range, a laser beam not so much.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 3:59 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by GunRunner:
Well Hotpoint weapons tech always depends on what kind of defenses you are going to be facing.

A Missile/Projectile can be intercepted or deflected by another even at close range, a laser beam not so much.



To intercept you need to be able to see it. A totally inert projectile would be difficult to see coming especially since you could coat the thing in RAM (Radar Absorbant Material) to drastically lower it's detectability. In any case unlike a missile it would be a bitch to shoot down and it's inertia means you'd need to apply a hell of a lot of force directly to it to stop the gorram thing

Getting hit by a CIWS round would be like trying to stop an express train by hitting it with a baseball. The impact would hardly register and it would just keep going, think about the momentum the projectile would have

Lasers on the other hand take time to burn through by which time you're firing back. Kinetic Energy Weapons don't have that drawback they hit like a wrecking ball


...................................
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Friday, March 19, 2004 4:59 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:
[BIn any case unlike a missile it would be a bitch to shoot down and it's inertia means you'd need to apply a hell of a lot of force directly to it to stop the gorram thing



Well you don't need to stop it just slow it down so your;
A) in a different spot when it would have intercepted you
or
B) give time for your lasers to melt the thing.
or
C) give time for your own mass drivers/rail guns to lock on and destroy it.

Most likely a ship would have Lasers, Mass Drivers, Rail Guns, Missiles, Torpedoes, Bombs, Mines, Spears, Rocks, Harsh Language etc to provide total weapons coverage. If your ships are armed with one weapon its back to the days of sailing ships, the most guns wins, but with multiple systems tactics become the deciding factor.

A small, fast and agile, ship with a few anti-mass driver systems and some big torpedoes can cause some serious havoc to a big ship armed with only mass divers.

Or two big cruisers one with batteries of rail guns another with point defense lasers can hold off the enemy’s weapons fire so its anti-ship lasers can have time to cut though.


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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:14 AM

CARTAGIA


Also, you are assuming that there wouldn't be an increase in defensive technology as well. Against projectiles, it is possible that some form of Aegis system could be developed that can reduce or negate that weapons system. The same is true for laser and beam weapons.

I think the best use of beam weapons in scifi was on Babylon 5 where instead of just pointing the laser at the target to punch a hole, they would slash with them to cut a ship.

The other benefit of beam weapons over projectiles is no need for ammunition. No chance of a stray shot igniting a magazine and detonating the ammo. There would probably be higher energy consumption to deal with.

Personally, I would expect a mix of the two technologies in a fighting ship.



Simon: I've never shot anyone before.

Book: I was there, son. I'm fair sure you haven't shot anyone yet.


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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:18 AM

STATIC


In reference to the AI issue

THIS is why I have such a problem with the whole "Love-bot" thing in the 'leaked' audition list. . .

If there's sufficient technology in the FF universe to come up with "Love bots". . .then why the hell do they use SLAVES? And I mean on the ADVANCED worlds, like Persephone. . .not the rim worlds.

Think about it. We're at the year 2004, and we only JUST NOW have a gorram automated VACCUM cleaner. A robot capable of taking the place of a human lover. . .that's WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY beyond the 'tech standard' that Joss has already given us.

Laser weapons? We've seen ONE laser weapon in the show. . .it was bulky, awkward and the battery died after three or four good shots. I sit in the cutting edge of combat technology for hours every day and I can tell you. . .the more you over-think the plumbing, the easier it is to clog the drain. Nothing beats a good ol' slugthrower for doin' damage. More efficient, more effective.

==================================================
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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:22 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by GunRunner:
Well you don't need to stop it just slow it down so your;
A) in a different spot when it would have intercepted you
or
B) give time for your lasers to melt the thing.
or
C) give time for your own mass drivers/rail guns to lock on and destroy it.



Even slowing it down would require an enormous amount of energy and in any case you'd fire a salvo of Railgun rounds in slightly different trajectories to allow for manoevering (they're cheap)

Gotta detect it to melt/intercept it. Easier said than done if it's steathy and inert. Chances are you'd first see it just before it arrived. Last words "Oh shi..."

CLANG!

Ship is either holed or has one heck of a dent in it

Quote:

Originally posted by GunRunner:
Most likely a ship would have Lasers, Mass Drivers, Rail Guns, Missiles, Torpedoes, Bombs, Mines, Spears, Rocks, Harsh Language etc to provide total weapons coverage.



No arguments there but it just irritates me that Lasers are used so much in Sci-Fi when they are largely inferior as a ship-killing weapon to a good old fashioned metal ball

Lasers or particle-beam weapons for knocking out small vessels with light armour might be okay but for Capital Ships you'd use something with a lot more "punch"... as it "punch right through"

I must admit I'm a sucker for Mass-Drivers as as weapon system. They're just so darn unsubtle! It's like chucking big unguided rocks... totally without finesse but very effective

Anyhow this is definitely a debate removed from Firefly


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:35 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


The Prime Advantage to Lasers:

Lasers travel at the speed of light.

Railguns will not ever be able to propel anything at the speed of light. Particle accelerators can scarcely do the job. But you're talking about throwing SLUGS, not individual atoms or electrons.

In Slower Than Light applications, Lasers leave almost no room to maneuver. There is no way to evade or intercept a laser. Only armoring systems would be useful.

A slug from a railgun could take several seconds to impact a target, and thus be evadable or interceptable. THAT is why people use lasers in Sci-Fi shows in space. They are FAST, virtually instantaneous impact weapons.

--Anthony






"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin


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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:40 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by Cartagia:
Also, you are assuming that there wouldn't be an increase in defensive technology as well. Against projectiles, it is possible that some form of Aegis system could be developed that can reduce or negate that weapons system. The same is true for laser and beam weapons.



Ye canne change the laws of physics Captain. Once an object starts going it requires an equal and opposite force to stop it. A ball of metal is not like a missile it has a lot of mass to stop and doesn't explode if hit

It would be easier to "upgun" a mass-driver to fire a faster or more massive projectile than it would be to design something to stop one

Eventually ships would just be built around the darn things I'd think

Quote:

Originally posted by Cartagia:

I think the best use of beam weapons in scifi was on Babylon 5 where instead of just pointing the laser at the target to punch a hole, they would slash with them to cut a ship.



To "slash" a ship you need to be able to cut through the hull very fast which means a very powerful beam weapon

If you've got the wattage why not chuck something that will total the ship with one blow rather than take time carving it up giving it time to fire back?

They did use Mass-Drivers on B5 by the way. I think the Centauri used them to pulverise the Narn homeworld from orbit. They'd be better suited for that than directed energy weapons and unlike nukes don't leave fallout

Quote:

Originally posted by Cartagia:
The other benefit of beam weapons over projectiles is no need for ammunition. No chance of a stray shot igniting a magazine and detonating the ammo. There would probably be higher energy consumption to deal with.



Mass-Driver ammo wouldn't explode, it's just inert metal. Actually if you were creative you'd have the spare ammunition stored just under the hull or around the powerplant because it could actually be considered supplementary armour

Oh good grief I'm really going to get carried away with this now


...................................
Hurrah, hurrah, when things are at their worst
With cries of “Death or Glory” comes the mighty Twenty-First

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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:44 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Also, incidentally...

No slug is more stealthy than a laser, which must actually strike you before you can detect it. No stealth coating, no nothing. It hits you, and you know its there.

No radar or sensing apparatus can detect it before impact.

--Anthony




"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin



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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:46 AM

HANS


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:
Never understood why people would use Lasers in space anyway? If you've got the power use it to run a Railgun/Mass Driver

You get infinite range and imagine the damage you could cause with a steel ball say 250mm across moving at tens of thousands of miles an hour




Also, remember that at a fast enough speed even a speck of dust is a danger in space. Instead of your 250mm steel ball, instead fire a 2.5mm ball. If your rail gun can fire enough of these at a very high speed and velocity then it would make a very dangerous weapon. Try hitting a cloud of those with a laser! The only problem is that such a small warhead might be effected by local gravity fields (which perhaps could be compensated for), making it a short range weapon.

Also, since artificial gravity exists in the Firefly universe, perhaps they have some sort of deflector system (NOT "shields") used to alter gravity around incoming warheads or missiles, causing them to veer off course and miss.

Hans

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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:53 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:

Quote:

If you've got the wattage why not chuck something that will total the ship with one blow rather than take time carving it up giving it time to fire back?


Because throwing a slow moving boulder at a ship is useless if the ship can evade it. In the world of space travel, even a high speed massdriver is a turtle compared to light. Incidentally, you do know that we have terawatt range lasers currently in operation, right?

Quote:


They did use Mass-Drivers on B5 by the way. I think the Centauri used them to pulverise the Narn homeworld from orbit. They'd be better suited for that than directed energy weapons and unlike nukes don't leave fallout.



You are right about massdrivers being suitable to planetary bombardment. Both for the reasons you mentioned, and because they are slow, cumbersome weapons best used against large, stationary targets.

Once again, remember that we are not speaking of hitting tanks or navy ships. We are speaking of hitting objects traveling at fractions of the speed of light, at possible ranges of tens of thousands of kilometers.


--Anthony




"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin



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Friday, March 19, 2004 5:57 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
The Prime Advantage to Lasers:

Lasers travel at the speed of light.

A slug from a railgun could take several seconds to impact a target, and thus be evadable or interceptable. THAT is why people use lasers in Sci-Fi shows in space. They are FAST, virtually instantaneous impact weapons.



Well you have to see the slug coming for a start to evade it and as I said you'd fire lots of them to allow for manoevering.

If you were facing ships with very high drive output relative to their mass they are likely to be lightly armoured so fire canister shot from the Railgun that shatters into a cloud of ballbearings all still going roughly the same direction.

Time the charge in the cannister so the cloud is several miles across say by the time they reach where the target is expected to be to allow for attempted evasion

Like I said. It's unsubtle but it would work

Cannister shot in a defensive role would also render missile technology a bit obsolete. You could chuck storms of the stuff out to knock out incoming missiles which unlike big inert metal balls would explode when hit. The Russians use a similiar idea on a current tank design to take out incoming Anti-Tank Missiles


...................................
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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:03 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by Hans:
Instead of your 250mm steel ball, instead fire a 2.5mm ball. If your rail gun can fire enough of these at a very high speed and velocity then it would make a very dangerous weapon. Try hitting a cloud of those with a laser!
Hans



Smaller = easyer to melt away with a laser. So you set your ship's defensive lasers to a wide beam and fire at close range, the balls melt, impact the hull and cool forming new armor on your ship.

Or you just head right for the cloud, and punch a hole in it for you ship to get though.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:06 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Canister shot may seem like a great idea, until you realize some fundamental realities about space.

Space is huge. If you use canisters that disperse over an area of miles, there will be hundreds of meters of space that are safe for travel within the dispersion 'cloud.' Plus, this would only be effective if the canister is detonated close to the target. Once again, the canister becomes evadable.

You *might* be able to make a massdriver weapon undetectable, but a laser weapon is by definition both undetectable and un-evadable.

Can you imagine the frustration at chasing an enemy ship, trying to pummel them with massdriver shells, and all they have to do to evade you is accelerate? They don't even need to dodge. And God Forbid that you accelerate to match their speed... and impact your own previously fired massdriver ammunition. (This has actually happened to jet planes firing cannon at an enemy jet.)

You can't accelerate faster than light, without using some special FTL technology.

While agree that massdrivers may be useful Sci-Fi weaponry, I don't see them as inherently superior to lasers, most especially not in the area of ship-to-ship combat. I'd rather have a particle accelerator.

--Anthony




"Those who beat their swords into plowshares usually end up plowing for those who didn't."

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

-Benjamin Franklin



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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:11 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:
Cannister shot in a defensive role would also render missile technology a bit obsolete. You could chuck storms of the stuff out to knock out incoming missiles which unlike big inert metal balls would explode when hit.



Not if missiles are equiped with counter-anti-missile defense systems. Equip a big ship kill'in torpedo/missile with defensive lasers and mass drivers, give it a real time remote link to its mother ship so it can be guided around and/or throgh any intercepion mesures.

This may sound excessive (building what abounts to a small ship with a bomb on it) but in reality it isn't, after all a modern UGM-109 Tomahawk is just a small plane with a bomb, and a preditor UAV is a small combat plane.


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:17 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Also, incidentally...

No slug is more stealthy than a laser, which must actually strike you before you can detect it. No stealth coating, no nothing. It hits you, and you know its there.

No radar or sensing apparatus can detect it before impact.



"Captain somebody is warming up our armoured hull with a Laser"

"Fire back"

OR

"Captain there's a Mass-Driver round incoming! Impact in 3, 2..."

"Crap!"



Sorry couldn't resist that one. As for Terrawatt powered Lasers well for the foreseeable future (next few centuries) I don't see us having that kind of power-output

Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Once again, remember that we are not speaking of hitting tanks or navy ships. We are speaking of hitting objects traveling at fractions of the speed of light, at possible ranges of tens of thousands of kilometers.



Hmmmm. I'd think any decent design would be stealthy enough that engagements wouldn't be at a fraction of that range because you can't actually see or target the damn things until they're a lot closer


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:26 AM

CYBERSNARK


What people often forget is that people who use lasers, blasters, ion weapons and whatnot tend to have energy shields (and "overpowered" reactors to power the gorram things).

While a solid projectile might bounce off an energy shield, an energy weapon would cause a disruption. Ideally, you'd hold any kinetic warheads in reserve until the shields are down and your target is bare-hulled.

Also, note the difference between lasers and plasma "blaster bolts" (as seen in Star Wars, B5, and Battlestar Galactica). They're slower than lasers, and, while they can't get inside a target and rattle around like bullets can, they do tend to be explosive. Which can be useful when it comes time to take out a target but leave it relatively intact for salvage.

The old "rescue the hostages by blasting the hell outta their ship" strategy. Only tends to work with ion or EMP weapons.

Also, as easy as it may be to make kinetic railgun ammo, charging up an energy weapon from your reactor is still easier when you're under fire and can't call time out to eat an asteroid.

But yeah, in the Firefly-verse, with no deflector shields, and what appear to be relatively weak generators, kinetic weapons are the way to go.

-----
We applied the cortical electrodes but were unable to get a neural reaction from either patient.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:27 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Also, incidentally...

No slug is more stealthy than a laser, which must actually strike you before you can detect it. No stealth coating, no nothing. It hits you, and you know its there.

No radar or sensing apparatus can detect it before impact.

--Anthony



What really matters is how stealthy the platform is. A big lumbering battleship armed with lasers can be avoided, but a small stealthy fighter craft can sneak in and deliver some less-stealthy slugs and ruin your day.

Stealth wins over firepower, just ask the crew of the General Belgrano.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:28 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Can you imagine the frustration at chasing an enemy ship, trying to pummel them with massdriver shells, and all they have to do to evade you is accelerate?

While agree that massdrivers may be useful Sci-Fi weaponry, I don't see them as inherently superior to lasers, most especially not in the area of ship-to-ship combat. I'd rather have a particle accelerator.



If you read my FanFics here you'll see I invented a warship which had Lasers, A Particle-Beam Weapon and a Railgun precisely because I see a use for all three (the warships an AI btw)

(All right it's a blatant plug. Read the Death or Glory/Wolf-Pack/Here be Dragons Series found in the Blue Sun Room)

In terms of sheer stopping power I don't think you can beat a kinetic energy weapon, but for fast moving targets that know it's coming beams have the edge (I have my fictional ship evading railgun fire by velocity/course changes as you say) however if you don't know it's coming a big metal ball is one hell of a surprise

Good debate by the way


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:30 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


Wait wait wait... are we actually debating whether energy-based weapons are less desirable than munitions?

Really? Seriously?

Wow.

Allow me to bring up the question of payloads. Allow me to mention combat endurance. Allow me to point out point-defence applications. Need I go on?

Energy/laser-based systems are infinitely more sought-after than physical slug-throwers. Which is why the USN is developing it's first laser-cruiser.

Cheers
Carl

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:31 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


DELETED due to double post

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:36 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Stealth?

We know how stealthy Firefly ships are. Not very. Alliance cruisers are gleaming cities in space, and a powered down Firefly can't escape a sensor sweep.

The most stealthy craft yet seen in Firefly is the ship employed by Jubal Early, and even that ship, travelling in the wake of the Serenity's exhaust, is detected. Detected and dismissed.

In Firefly, ships were detectable BEYOND visual range. We are indeed speaking of detection at thousands of kilometers.

What we really lack to make this debate useful is the operating speed of spacecraft in the Firefly universe. Hell, we don't know what their propulsion method is, or even if they have FTL capability.

--Anthony


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:36 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by BluebloodUK:
Wait wait wait... are we actually debating whether energy-based weapons are less desirable than munitions?

Really? Seriously?

Wow.

Allow me to bring up the question of payloads. Allow me to mention combat endurance. Allow me to point out point-defence applications. Need I go on?

Energy/laser-based systems are infinitely more sought-after than physical slug-throwers. Which is why the USN is developing it's first laser-cruiser.




THE USN is also experimenting with fitting Railguns to its ships as well. Kinetic Energy weapons are more shattering

Various Armies are working on Mass-Driver armed Tanks too


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:40 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Stealth?

We know how stealthy Firefly ships are. Not very. Alliance cruisers are gleaming cities in space, and a powered down Firefly can't escape a sensor sweep.



I see Alliance Cruisers as being there to intimidate and would therefore be designed to be big and easily seen

They are a weapon of Terror not a Weapon of War (to coin a phrase many may recognise)

IIRC The Alliance (Fighter?) that fired at Serenity during The Message was not detected before it started shooting


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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:46 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:

THE USN is also experimenting with fitting Railguns to its ships as well. Kinetic Energy weapons are more shattering

Various Armies are working on Mass-Driver armed Tanks too



Yes. However, pure battleships were out-moded by the development of guided missile systems, because of their stealth factors inherent in a small, powerful warhead. The development of mounted naval lasers takes this step again - infinitely stealthier. Done correctly, comparatively damaging. Unimaginabley harder to avoid.

Apply this to 'space' batttles, and you can see why kinetic weapony may be mooted. If you were right, then battleships should be making a come-back around about... *glances at watch*....

Mass-Driver Tanks are being considered, its true, but this works in the case FOR laser weaponry; tanks are slow, and easier to nail with a 2kg slug travelling at MACH 4. Less energy-expensive to run compared to it's size.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:48 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Well, it's true that they didn't notice the Alliance (Fighter? Gunship?). But after Objects in Space, I'm inclined to blame Wash for that.

Especially since the Alliance fighter was amply detectable by simple visual observation. It wasn't even painted to blend with its surroundings.

I did like their use of missiles and EMP bomb weapons, though. Very nice.

--Anthony

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:48 AM

SCIFIDO


Wow, this is an interesting thread.

Let me ask some questions:

Beam weapons and electro magnetic guns exist, right?

Artificial Gravity (Which is just a convention to prevent having to deal with freefall in space for cheaper television making), Energy shields, deflector shields and the like do not exist, right?

So, are we disussing the realities or the fantasies here?

For reality, the slug thrower would seem to work exceptionally well. You can't change the trejectory of a high mass object like a ship without squashing its passengers under a high-gee load.

The slug on the other hand is moving very fast comparitively and has little surface area to reflect off of radar or its equivalent. Without the ability to quickly evade or detect, I see no advantage to lasers because they would be easier to deflect. A highly polished exterior would do the job nicely allowing only a portion of the energy to burn through.

From a cost point of view slugs would seem to be much less expensive unless electricity is somehow free and greatly storable.

As to the fantasy discussions, well, the potentials are as limitless as our imaginations.

Person 1: They could use antimatter beams.
Person 2: Yeah, but with a gravimetric shield...

Anyhoo, that's just my two cents worth...



Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:51 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by AnthonyT:
Alliance cruisers are gleaming cities in space, and a powered down Firefly can't escape a sensor sweep.



In both 'Serenity' and 'Bushwhacked' Alliance Cruisers seem to get very close, very fast to Serenity with out being detected.
...ok in 'Serenity' it kinda was the dinosaur’s fault.

Also I think those Cruisers were on a patrol footing; in combat they probably have extensive ECM systems that can jam any sensors that could detect them.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm

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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:55 AM

HOTPOINT


Quote:

Originally posted by BluebloodUK:
Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:

THE USN is also experimenting with fitting Railguns to its ships as well. Kinetic Energy weapons are more shattering

Various Armies are working on Mass-Driver armed Tanks too



Yes. However, pure battleships were out-moded by the development of guided missile systems, because of their stealth factors inherent in a small, powerful warhead. The development of mounted naval lasers takes this step again - infinitely stealthier. Done correctly, comparatively damaging. Unimaginabley harder to avoid.

Apply this to 'space' batttles, and you can see why kinetic weapony may be mooted. If you were right, then battleships should be making a come-back around about... *glances at watch*....
B]



Lasers are Line-Of-Sight Mass-Drivers are not. A Laser only armed naval vessel would be pulverised by a Mass-Driver armed one firing over the Horizon

The best idea would be a vessel armed with both systems which is likely where we are going

Actually Mass-Drivers would render batleships obsolete in themselves. Easier to up the railgun velocity than increase armour thickness


...................................
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Friday, March 19, 2004 6:58 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by BluebloodUK:
The development of mounted naval lasers takes this step again - infinitely stealthier.



Not as stealthy as a submarine, can't hit what you can't see, plus 3000 feet of water makes a good anti-laser shield. Hopefully super cavatating point defenses will even the odds.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:02 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by Hotpoint:
Lasers are Line-Of-Sight Mass-Drivers are not. A Laser only armed naval vessel would be pulverised by a Mass-Driver armed one firing over the Horizon



LOS can be avoided by using a aircraft with a mirror to direct the laser over the horizon. Kind of like a targeting helo/UAV off a modern ship.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:03 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


Wait.. are you saying that a light laser cruiser would be nailed by a light mass-driver cruiser? Are are you bringing armour into the equation now? Which applies to either system ad infinitum. Arms Race, anyone?

These days, you can't shell Destroyers or Frigates. Their Over-The-Horizon Radar systems are too efficient, their turning circle/acceleration too good. Which is why we use guided-missiles.

Yes, range, in planetary conditions, are a factor to laser-weapons, considering the curvature of the Earth, however once that range has been reduced (and lets face it, you have absolutely no guarentee of a hit in the interim), then the battle swings towards the laser-weapon.

However, in space, these disadvantages are removed from the outset. Lasers have clear line of sight. At the speed of light. Mass-Drivers hang around in the MACH-speed range. And once fired, they are incapable of in-flight path alterations (unless they become guided missiles, invalidating the mass-driver concept there and then).

Your mass-driver cruiser is toast.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:05 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


A submarine is only as good as the quietness of it's reactor, and the lack of sophistication of a ASW sonar system - both of which are struggling against each other all the time.

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:08 AM

ANTHONYT

Freedom is Important because People are Important


Quote:

Originally posted by SciFido:
Wow, this is an interesting thread.

Let me ask some questions:

Beam weapons and electro magnetic guns exist, right?

Artificial Gravity (Which is just a convention to prevent having to deal with freefall in space for cheaper television making), Energy shields, deflector shields and the like do not exist, right?

So, are we disussing the realities or the fantasies here?

For reality, the slug thrower would seem to work exceptionally well. You can't change the trejectory of a high mass object like a ship without squashing its passengers under a high-gee load.

The slug on the other hand is moving very fast comparitively and has little surface area to reflect off of radar or its equivalent. Without the ability to quickly evade or detect, I see no advantage to lasers because they would be easier to deflect. A highly polished exterior would do the job nicely allowing only a portion of the energy to burn through.

From a cost point of view slugs would seem to be much less expensive unless electricity is somehow free and greatly storable.

As to the fantasy discussions, well, the potentials are as limitless as our imaginations.

Person 1: They could use antimatter beams.
Person 2: Yeah, but with a gravimetric shield...

Anyhoo, that's just my two cents worth...

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.



Well SciFido, Antigravity does exist within the universe of the show, and ships can change direction quite suddenly without squashing passengers. They can also accelerate quite suddenly without squashing passengers.

So, if we're discussing the reality of the show, slugthrowers may only be effective against large/slow targets or at extremely close range.

I do, incidentally, believe that in Bushwacked the Alliance Cruiser used a slugthrower of some kind to destroy the non-mobile ship that had been the victim of Reaver attack. That doesn't suggest viability in a dogfight.

As for energy being free... no, it must cost something. They do refuel from time to time.

But railguns don't get their power from a mystery universe filled with unicorns and pink bunny rabbits. They get their power from the same place a laser would.

--Anthony



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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:11 AM

GUNRUNNER


Quote:

Originally posted by BluebloodUK:
A submarine is only as good as the quietness of it's reactor.



Easily rectified, Collins or Amur Diesel-Electric submarines anyone?

Anyways new sub launched SAMs will become a serous threat to Helos and ASW aircraft (the real threats to subs) in the 21st century.

The Firefly CCG Web Site:
http://mywebpage.netscape.com/Bllm119/firefly_ccg_web_site.htm

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Friday, March 19, 2004 7:16 AM

BLUEBLOODUK


Diesel/Electric? Better not be in open seas then. Our (sorry, Royal Navy) Upholder-class subs were primarily designed for medium-range patrols. You dont deploy them in deep open waters these days if you can help it. It looks bad when you have to surface or snort during prolonged engagements.

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