What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Post your reality fanfiction here.

Moderators: gmalivuk, Moderators General, Prelates

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:24 pm UTC

That is, what fictional science is required that one or two-person spacecraft, launched from a larger one, are a useful weapon of inter-planetary war?
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

User avatar
Mighty Jalapeno
Inne Juste 7 Dayes I Wille Make You A Hero!
Posts: 11265
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 pm UTC
Location: Prince George In A Can
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Mighty Jalapeno » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

Something that prevents them from being tracked, targeted, and virtually instantly converted to vapor by computer-guided lasers mounted on the opponent's ships.

Some sort of cloaking or the interminable 'deflector shield' would seem to be in order.

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Dec 22, 2010 3:52 pm UTC

One idea I've had is to reverse the 'hyperdrive dichotomy' that exists in many settings - in those settings, only large ships have hyperdrives, acting as carriers for smaller vessels. Well, you could change that to having hyperdrives limited on mass - the more mass you try to shift using a hyperdrive then the more prohibitively energy-consuming it is. Perhaps the hyperdrive sphere created costs energy on volume, and therefore only a small spacecraft can use it. In either case, a short-distance hyper-jump is possible, but long-range or large-ship travel is impossible.

In this case it would be impossible for the capital ship's laser batteries to target a fighter that is in essence appearing in random locations around it. A fighter would be able to jump to a location where they can fire missiles or other weapons at a ship's weak-point, and then jump away again, (hopefully) before they are destroyed.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

User avatar
Sir_Elderberry
Posts: 4206
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:50 pm UTC
Location: Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:05 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Something that prevents them from being tracked, targeted, and virtually instantly converted to vapor by computer-guided lasers mounted on the opponent's ships.

Some sort of cloaking or the interminable 'deflector shield' would seem to be in order.

Lasers that powerful are themselves fictional science, so there's no reason to include them.
http://www.geekyhumanist.blogspot.com -- Science and the Concerned Voter
Belial wrote:You are the coolest guy that ever cooled.

I reiterate. Coolest. Guy.

Well. You heard him.

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:09 pm UTC

But rail-guns are more real, and so the problems of powerful anti-fighter defences remains.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

User avatar
Sir_Elderberry
Posts: 4206
Joined: Tue Dec 04, 2007 6:50 pm UTC
Location: Sector ZZ9 Plural Z Alpha
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:25 pm UTC

True, but at least you can see a rail gun before it hits you, though it's not great odds. Real fighter jets at much smaller distances still seem capable of coping, though.

I'm watching BSG at the moment and trying to think of how they make it work. They use fighters not just in ship-to-ship combat, but for other things--as shuttlecraft, as recon vehicles, as patrols, to protect other ships. It strikes me that the utility of being able to deploy small forces in many different configurations might be sufficient justification.
http://www.geekyhumanist.blogspot.com -- Science and the Concerned Voter
Belial wrote:You are the coolest guy that ever cooled.

I reiterate. Coolest. Guy.

Well. You heard him.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:27 pm UTC

Well, you need to have the energy budget for interplanetary travel, or a cheap way to do it.

Once you have that energy budget, you run into problems of defending against anything "weapon-like".

Sort of like the "defending against nuclear weapons" problem -- the energy required for interplanetary, let alone interstellar, travel dwarfs EM-bond energy levels, which means mere chemical matter is no longer able to practically defend against the amount of energy that the civilization is using for mere transportation, let alone weapons technology.

So you need some kind of "deflector shield" or "matter reinforcer", or we have a near line-of-sight kill range in space, where there is next to nothing blocking line-of-sight at any scale.

I suppose you could pull out the inverse square law and force your attacker to use high-speed projectiles, and fight at ridiculous ranges so you can avoid each others projectiles. Being able to ... "turn" ... becomes an issue.

Would a situation where ships fight at relativistic velocities in the gaps between galactic superclusters (or larger-scale structures) qualify, and pilots are non-organic computers (because why are you sending meat-bags into space again?) count?
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Chen
Posts: 5580
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 6:53 pm UTC
Location: Montreal

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Chen » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:40 pm UTC

If you can make a maneuverable fighter you can also make a maneuverable guided missile. It would seem far more efficient to just launch a ton of missiles at the opponent instead. Hell depending on distances kinetic kill weapons could be even more efficient. I can't really see a good reason you'd want fighters for space battles.

Now to make fighters better than missiles or "bullets" you'd need something that provides an incentive to "waste" as little material as possible. Fighters are resuable and missiles are not. Of course your fighters need to be armed with something so something energy based would be needed. This of course assumes that you can somehow "recharge" energy based weapons but you don't have the capability of using that energy to obtain/produce more material. Something like a big solar powered ship but one that lacks extra material to make more fighters/missiles but has a decent enough array to keep some large futuristic capacitors charged to keep energy weapons working.

Of course this means the enemy would also need to be in a similar situation otherwise they'd just launch a hundred missiles at you and be done with it.

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:45 pm UTC

Chen wrote:Now to make fighters better than missiles or "bullets" you'd need something that provides an incentive to "waste" as little material as possible. Fighters are resuable and missiles are not.
Well, I would posit that the fighter-bourne hyperdrive that I've come up with would do this. Even if you can manufacture missiles (to be carried by the fighters) that's not to say that you can manufacture the hyperdrives.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Wed Dec 22, 2010 8:54 pm UTC

Fighters are command and control mechanisms on a weapons platform.

At this time, humans are pretty good at piloting compared to computers. So you need sufficiently smart humans, or sufficiently stupid computers, to justify sticking a human (and all of that g-force issues) to do remote command-and-control. You also need unreliable communications.

The smart missile has its own C&C system and is independent. Smart missiles are dumb.

Missiles should ideally be cheap -- the current US style of "ridiculously expensive boondoggle of a fighter craft and weapons" is probably not something that a nation actually at war for its survival is going to be doing. Build ridiculously many more instead (sure, you take more casualties that way, but that only matters when you aren't fighting for your survival in the short term, or you have a ridiculous population shortage). So if the medium-range launching platform is expensive (as in the mini-hyperdrive above), this can give you a two-stage system.

So, dumb computers (or smart people) as an effective, yet expensive, C&C platform for weapon delivery.

Fighters aren't about attacking fighters -- they are about defeating enemy fighters who are screening, or being screened -- with the goal of protecting your bombers, or attacking enemy bombers -- which are about attacking serious enemy assets, like planets and capital ships. Sort of a muti-stage recursion of importance. Note that fighter-bombers can exist (fighters that can also attack enemy capital assets).

Already you can see the end of the day of the fighter. Drones that are remotely controlled and have built-in intelligence let you strip the human C&C out of the fighter and bomber aircraft.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Dec 23, 2010 12:29 am UTC

Yakk wrote:(and all of that g-force issues)
Which is why I'd say the top fictional science needed for making fighters worthwhile would be some kind of inertial dampening system. Also cheap enough propulsion (at least in comparison to the price of expendable computer guidance) to warrant sending something out and back instead of just out.

Or, as you said, some restriction on computers. Either they've been banned for some reason (as in Dune), or they can be subverted too easily by the enemy (as in BSG), or something similar.

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Something that prevents them from being tracked, targeted, and virtually instantly converted to vapor by computer-guided lasers mounted on the opponent's ships.
Well, depending on distances, that's not actually an issue on account of lightspeed being finite.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Qwert
Posts: 73
Joined: Sun Feb 10, 2008 4:09 am UTC
Location: Elsewhere

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Qwert » Fri Dec 24, 2010 5:20 am UTC

On the laser issue: Mass Effect had a great point on the effectiveness of lasers in space combat. No laser today fires a perfectly parallel beam, so at long engagement ranges they are essentially bright lights. Also as a battle would progress debris and vented atmospheres would further degrade laser's usefulness, making fighters more and more viable.
2 is not equal to 3, not even for large values of 2.
- Grabel's Law
Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
- Arthur Schopenhauer

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Dec 24, 2010 7:41 am UTC

But, without some other gimmick, still not as viable as expendable missiles.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

jwwells
Posts: 180
Joined: Thu Sep 21, 2006 4:47 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby jwwells » Sun Dec 26, 2010 6:53 am UTC

Once you can accelerate matter to near-light speed and aim it, any large-scale war seems to me like mutually assured destruction. So much for fighters.

But what about a social solution instead of a science one?

Individual/small-scale fighter duels could be a way of settling individual or small-group conflicts - sort of a space equivalent of "pistols at dawn." In this case, a lot of our questions can be answered in a phrase.

"Why don't they just shoot down the enemy with automated missiles?" "Not sporting."

"Why don't they automate the fighters to avoid having to mitigate G-forces?" "Not sporting."

And so on.

User avatar
frezik
Posts: 1336
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:52 pm UTC
Location: Schrödinger's Box

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby frezik » Sun Dec 26, 2010 10:56 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:One idea I've had is to reverse the 'hyperdrive dichotomy' that exists in many settings - in those settings, only large ships have hyperdrives, acting as carriers for smaller vessels. Well, you could change that to having hyperdrives limited on mass - the more mass you try to shift using a hyperdrive then the more prohibitively energy-consuming it is. Perhaps the hyperdrive sphere created costs energy on volume, and therefore only a small spacecraft can use it. In either case, a short-distance hyper-jump is possible, but long-range or large-ship travel is impossible.


I don't remember the details, but the "Conquerors" trilogy by Timothy Zahn had something like that. There was one FTL speed that was easy enough for any craft to travel at, and another that was twice as fast that was only practical for smaller ships.
I do not agree with the beer you drink, but will defend to the death your right to drink it

2.71828183
Posts: 229
Joined: Tue Sep 08, 2009 7:49 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby 2.71828183 » Wed Dec 29, 2010 6:35 am UTC

I think I have a hard sci-fi scenario in which "fighters" (though not necessarily in the usual sense) would be useful. Imagine a craft that carries all the weapons, armor, and propulsion necessary to fight a battle, but only enough living area to support the crew (one or two people, and pretty much only there to decide what to shoot and what not to without associated lightspeed lag from communicating with a remote ship--obviously this necessitates not having computers smart enough to fill the same role). Multiple craft provide redundancy, make enemy targeting slightly more difficult, and provide the ability to cover all the way around planets and such. Each "fighter" might be as big and well-armored as a naval battleship, and they'd still probably slug it out with the enemy using expendable missiles, unmanned scout craft if necessary (to see behind planets and such, and make it more difficult to be blinded by enemy action) and possibly lasers, railguns, etc.

But everything "squishy" (civilian passengers, food crops, artificial-gravity areas where the furniture isn't necessarily nailed down--basically anything not designed to take multiple gees from an arbitrary direction) and a lot of excess baggage (the fuel and reaction mass needed to travel between star systems, more-spacious living quarters, maybe even depots of excess missiles and repair materials) can be offloaded onto a mothership supporting multiple fighter units. In this scenario the mothership could be huge, maybe even miles long, and would probably be mostly reaction mass. Offloading all this stuff away from the fighter units saves reaction mass used for evasive maneuvers and allows the fighters to get away with smaller drives for the same maneuverability--obviously these concerns have to be important for the scenario to make sense. Maybe making propulsion units is expensive--that way the mothership wouldn't even have its own propulsion, just the ability to accelerate to one gee (for comfortable inertial gravity) or some small fraction of a gee (for comfortable centrifugal gravity; used if it's really enormous or something) with all the fighters towing it, whereas the fighter units by themselves need to pull several gees in order to make them hard to target at closer ranges.

Regardless of the scenario, I can't imagine any useful starship that wouldn't have some smaller craft, manned or not, for landing and taking off from planets, running errands between ships, scouting behind planets, etc. They just might not be practical in combat.

Aussie_Sniper
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:27 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Aussie_Sniper » Sun Jan 02, 2011 2:46 pm UTC

Space-borne fighters could be useful in a situation where having concealed defences are nececarry. Suppose that a ship required weapons, but could not (or could not be seen to) mount them externally. If it stored a good number of fighters in a "cargo bay" refitted into a hangar, then it could remain armed while also appearing harmless. The fighters would most likely not be as useful as a ship-mounted weapon, but could be enough firepower to make an enemy think twice before attacking an apparently unarmed cargo ship.

Then again, the cargo bay could just be refitted to hold a large numbber of programmable, self-guided missiles. Just eject them out the airlock and let the missiles do the rest.

User avatar
frezik
Posts: 1336
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:52 pm UTC
Location: Schrödinger's Box

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby frezik » Mon Jan 03, 2011 5:02 pm UTC

Aussie_Sniper wrote:Space-borne fighters could be useful in a situation where having concealed defences are nececarry. Suppose that a ship required weapons, but could not (or could not be seen to) mount them externally. If it stored a good number of fighters in a "cargo bay" refitted into a hangar, then it could remain armed while also appearing harmless. The fighters would most likely not be as useful as a ship-mounted weapon, but could be enough firepower to make an enemy think twice before attacking an apparently unarmed cargo ship.

Then again, the cargo bay could just be refitted to hold a large numbber of programmable, self-guided missiles. Just eject them out the airlock and let the missiles do the rest.


Seems like a lot of effort for a trick that's only going to work once. The battle in question would have to result in a major strategic gain.

A more long-term justification might be in retrofitting civilian equipment for military use. That's the path Gundam usually takes.
I do not agree with the beer you drink, but will defend to the death your right to drink it

Aelfyre
Posts: 358
Joined: Wed May 07, 2008 4:22 pm UTC
Location: 3 decades west of the teenage wasteland
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Aelfyre » Mon Jan 03, 2011 6:11 pm UTC

Mighty Jalapeno wrote:Something that prevents them from being tracked, targeted, and virtually instantly converted to vapor by computer-guided lasers mounted on the opponent's ships.

Some sort of cloaking or the interminable 'deflector shield' would seem to be in order.


this.. plus a compact power source capable of providing sufficient continuous power to all the ships systems.. propulsion, life support, weapons, navigation, wifi access, the cloaking system, communications and an expresso maker.
Xanthir wrote:To be fair, even perfectly friendly antimatter wildebeests are pretty deadly.

User avatar
Bhelliom
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:30 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Bhelliom » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:42 pm UTC

Guys, the biggest problem you have in space is heat. All these engines and lasers and railguns create a ton of heat, and you have nowhere to vent it. Space is a terrible heat conductor, you would need acres of radiators to cool anything like a fighter.

We need to break some more physics before any of this is possible.
"Eloquently Blunt"

User avatar
bigglesworth
I feel like Biggles should have a title
Posts: 7461
Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 9:29 pm UTC
Location: Airstrip One

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby bigglesworth » Mon Jan 03, 2011 7:57 pm UTC

Well, missiles don't require much energy (their own heat-production doesn't matter to the fighter). Agreed on the engines and such.
Generation Y. I don't remember the First Gulf War, but do remember floppy disks.

schok51
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:47 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby schok51 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:03 pm UTC

Well,part of that heat can be used to produce energy,and the other can be conducted throught the ship to a big radiator.Or,the ship can be itself a big radiator,if the outer layer is a good heat conductor,and black-colored.No?

User avatar
KrO2
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby KrO2 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 12:12 am UTC

frezik wrote:
Aussie_Sniper wrote:Space-borne fighters could be useful in a situation where having concealed defences are nececarry. Suppose that a ship required weapons, but could not (or could not be seen to) mount them externally. If it stored a good number of fighters in a "cargo bay" refitted into a hangar, then it could remain armed while also appearing harmless. The fighters would most likely not be as useful as a ship-mounted weapon, but could be enough firepower to make an enemy think twice before attacking an apparently unarmed cargo ship.

Then again, the cargo bay could just be refitted to hold a large numbber of programmable, self-guided missiles. Just eject them out the airlock and let the missiles do the rest.


Seems like a lot of effort for a trick that's only going to work once. The battle in question would have to result in a major strategic gain.

Not necessarily. Yes, you can only surprise them once, but if your goal is just to make the enemy unsure of how heavily armed a ship is, you can habitually have some percentage of larger ships carrying fighters, so that any given ship might or might not have extra firepower.

About the only excuse I can think of for using fighters over missiles is if the fighters can use Frickin Laser Beams or railguns and "missiles" (by now they're turning into more like droid starfighters) can't. Maybe it's just beyond whatever advanced computers are available, but still within human capabilities. Yeah right.

I think I might have a way to circumvent the heating problem. Basically, since space as a cooling medium tends to suck, use something else, anything else, and get rid of it. Maybe put heat sinks on your missiles, since they're going out anyway and enemy ships don't care about the temperature of what hits them. Or even use ferromagnetic coolant and shoot it out of a railgun. Should make fighters less impossible. This will obviously put another limit on how long they can stay out, because you have a finite amount of stuff to vent, but if it works is probably worth it.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:33 pm UTC

schok51 wrote:Well,part of that heat can be used to produce energy
How? The only way to produce energy with heat is if you also have something cold for the heat to "flow" into.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Yakk
Poster with most posts but no title.
Posts: 11129
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2007 7:27 pm UTC
Location: E pur si muove

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Yakk » Tue Jan 04, 2011 6:26 pm UTC

Pumping heat into something warmer than you ... generates heat.

Admittedly, it can generate less heat than the amount you pump, if I can do the napkin mathematics right.

But it does consume lots of energy (well, produces lots of entropy -- so you need an entropy-sink, like a highly ordered energy storage, which is what people usually call "fuel" or "energy source").
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

Last edited by JHVH on Fri Oct 23, 4004 BCE 6:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Aussie_Sniper
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Jun 29, 2009 6:27 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Aussie_Sniper » Wed Jan 05, 2011 10:39 am UTC

Yakk wrote:Pumping heat into something warmer than you ... generates heat.

Admittedly, it can generate less heat than the amount you pump, if I can do the napkin mathematics right.

But it does consume lots of energy (well, produces lots of entropy -- so you need an entropy-sink, like a highly ordered energy storage, which is what people usually call "fuel" or "energy source").

If wireless power transmission technology ever gets good enough, maybe the fighters could be remotely powered by the ship that launched them. That would remove a lot of the heat generation, and might leave them enough room/power to run a heat pump. They'd still need their own power for engines and communication, just in case the main ship gets destroyed (we don't want driftring tin cans with people inside).
KrO2 wrote:About the only excuse I can think of for using fighters over missiles is if the fighters can use Frickin Laser Beams or railguns and "missiles" (by now they're turning into more like droid starfighters) can't. Maybe it's just beyond whatever advanced computers are available, but still within human capabilities. Yeah right.

I think I might have a way to circumvent the heating problem. Basically, since space as a cooling medium tends to suck, use something else, anything else, and get rid of it. Maybe put heat sinks on your missiles, since they're going out anyway and enemy ships don't care about the temperature of what hits them. Or even use ferromagnetic coolant and shoot it out of a railgun. Should make fighters less impossible. This will obviously put another limit on how long they can stay out, because you have a finite amount of stuff to vent, but if it works is probably worth it.

I like the idea of missile heat-sinks. It seems like an elegant solution, given that ideally missiles will be launched from the fighter during times of maximum heat production.

Also, one of the advantages a manned figher has over just using missiles is a resistance to ECM. A missile can be jammed, but human pilots are harder to tamper with.

User avatar
Antimony-120
Posts: 830
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:16 am UTC
Location: Wherever you can look - wherever there's a fight, so hungry people can eat.

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Antimony-120 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:41 pm UTC

frezik wrote:
Aussie_Sniper wrote:Space-borne fighters could be useful in a situation where having concealed defences are nececarry. Suppose that a ship required weapons, but could not (or could not be seen to) mount them externally. If it stored a good number of fighters in a "cargo bay" refitted into a hangar, then it could remain armed while also appearing harmless. The fighters would most likely not be as useful as a ship-mounted weapon, but could be enough firepower to make an enemy think twice before attacking an apparently unarmed cargo ship.

Then again, the cargo bay could just be refitted to hold a large numbber of programmable, self-guided missiles. Just eject them out the airlock and let the missiles do the rest.


Seems like a lot of effort for a trick that's only going to work once. The battle in question would have to result in a major strategic gain.

A more long-term justification might be in retrofitting civilian equipment for military use. That's the path Gundam usually takes.


It's been tried in both world wars. That being said, while it has limited use against a foreign military, it is extremely useful as a policing action.
Wolydarg wrote:That was like a roller coaster of mathematical reasoning. Problems! Solutions! More problems!


****************Signature Dehosted, New Signature Under Construction************************

User avatar
frezik
Posts: 1336
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 7:52 pm UTC
Location: Schrödinger's Box

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby frezik » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:46 pm UTC

Antimony-120 wrote:
frezik wrote:A more long-term justification might be in retrofitting civilian equipment for military use. That's the path Gundam usually takes.


It's been tried in both world wars. That being said, while it has limited use against a foreign military, it is extremely useful as a policing action.


Half-tracks are that way, too. Also, most non-combat military aircraft were designed for civilians first.

The way used in Gundam is that people building space colonies have relatively small suits used during construction, and then some military guy notices that they could be scaled up and carry a big gun. The arms are used for spinning around without using fuel, much like a gyro on a satellite (though it's not animated that way). Since they handle pretty much like the smaller civilian versions, pilots can be recruited out of the construction crews. Throw in a magic particle that screws up radar (so beyond-line-of-sight battles are a thing of the past), and you got yourself a mobile suit!
I do not agree with the beer you drink, but will defend to the death your right to drink it

jjfortherear
Posts: 103
Joined: Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:44 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby jjfortherear » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:49 pm UTC

On the topic of inertial dampening: I don't know if this has been mentioned before, but if we were able to generate a sufficiently strong, uniform gravitational field, we could accelerate as fast as we want (there would be no limit to the g's humans could withstand, because we wouldn't feel them) - I know it's as impossible as any of the other suggestions, but I feel like if you were to make one idea real, this would be it.
Qaanol wrote:Actually this could be a great idea. See, you just have to bill the mission to an extrasolar planet as a mission, and then let all the fundamentalists from all religions be the missionaries.

User avatar
Meteorswarm
Posts: 979
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:28 am UTC
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Meteorswarm » Tue Jan 11, 2011 6:30 am UTC

The hiding fighters trick would work equally well for hiding lots of missiles if they have a modicum of maneuverability. And why can't you have your guns behind cleverly-hidden flaps?
The same as the old Meteorswarm, now with fewer posts!

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby nitePhyyre » Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:51 pm UTC

You need the right kind of FTL. Without FTL you can't have fighters because the carriers would never get close enough to each other to launch fighter. The carriers would be shooting at each other for literal decades before they got to fighter range. Even with some type of FTL fighters are useless. If you have gate-type travel, like in babylon 5, unless the other carrier is right next to the gate, you still have the range problem. Although the shooting will be for months or years, not decades. If you have a BSG jump-type travel, you are better off jumping right next to a carrier with a gun boat and blow it out of the sky before it can launch fighters.

Once you have the right type of FTL travel, I don't see why you wouldn't use fighters. If missiles are so much better than fighters why do we use fighter planes now? (This sounds snarky, it isn't meant to be. I honestly don't know.)

Oh, and I imagine that planes that can land on a planet and then get back to the carrier would be extremely valuable.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

User avatar
KrO2
Posts: 236
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 9:35 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby KrO2 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:07 am UTC

Probably fighter planes are cheaper than missiles, since they don't blow up after each successful use. (They also allow for one of the coolest professions in human history.) Both would presumably apply to spacefighters as well.
I'd add to your point about FTL that it should ideally also be easy enough to be used as a maneuver in combat so that we avoid long-distance battles with ships sniping at each other, but a laser shot from one ship to another isn't guaranteed an instant hit.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jan 12, 2011 4:11 am UTC

First, fighter planes are most definitely not cheaper than missiles. Second, how do you think fighter planes actually do most of their fighting?
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

nitePhyyre
Posts: 1280
Joined: Mon Jul 27, 2009 10:31 am UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby nitePhyyre » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:29 am UTC

I believe he meant a weapon platform and 6 warheads is cheaper than 6 weapon platforms and 6 warheads.

Depending on exactly what systems are needed and how much they cost, this may or may not be true, but at least it makes some sense.
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

User avatar
Meteorswarm
Posts: 979
Joined: Sun Dec 27, 2009 12:28 am UTC
Location: Ithaca, NY

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Meteorswarm » Wed Jan 12, 2011 7:29 am UTC

But the cost of life support in space is huge compared to on Earth, plus, if you presume AI improvements as they've been going lately, human pilots might very well be obsolete by the time we get to space wars, making everything either missiles or near-missiles that return if they don't get shot down.

With high delta-v as well, you can save a lot by not paying for a return trip.
The same as the old Meteorswarm, now with fewer posts!

User avatar
Bhelliom
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:30 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Bhelliom » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:33 pm UTC

Also, once you factor in the HUGE cost of training fighter pilots, missiles start looking really reasonable.
"Eloquently Blunt"

not baby Newt
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 11:30 pm UTC

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby not baby Newt » Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:29 am UTC

nitePhyyre wrote:You need the right kind of FTL. Without FTL you can't have fighters because the carriers would never get close enough to each other to launch fighter. The carriers would be shooting at each other for literal decades before they got to fighter range.

That seems a bit much. Lasers and kinetic weapons are probably not *that* accurate, and guided missiles can be detected when they adjust their course. A fighter flying ahead could get close enough to hit the much bigger enemy carrier without it being able to reciprocate, but admittedly that'd involve timescales way longer then you want to spend in a tiny 'fighter' so computers make more sense.

Even with some type of FTL fighters are useless. If you have gate-type travel, like in babylon 5, unless the other carrier is right next to the gate, you still have the range problem. Although the shooting will be for months or years, not decades. If you have a BSG jump-type travel, you are better off jumping right next to a carrier with a gun boat and blow it out of the sky before it can launch fighters.

Or jump inside with high relative velocity or a bomb. I like jump-style with the right complications such as a 'jamming' field, or the defender having a second or two to react since it's a non-instant process.

Once you have the right type of FTL travel, I don't see why you wouldn't use fighters. If missiles are so much better than fighters why do we use fighter planes now? (This sounds snarky, it isn't meant to be. I honestly don't know.)

Planes are more fuel-efficient, missiles faster. A pilot is handy for deciding what to shoot at, what to not shoot at. Not sure either of these applies in a space battle. Don't need fuel to cruise, and targeting might boil down to 'kill the biggest mass around', or 'shoot anything that emits energy until it stops'.


On the subject of dangerously strong G-forces, are they really needed in space? Ridiculous energy production yes, reaction mass efficiency yes, but actual acceleration? If our reaction-mass-efficient reactor/engine take half a ship's weight or so this might make sense (and optionally a deep philosophical desire not to litter the universe with reaction mass). Not sure how far you get in a few days at 1 G, but it's probably a nice place for a FTL gateway.

AFAIK not even jet aircraft using craptons of fuel and air accelerate very fast in a straight-line flight. Maneuvers that involve changing the momentum of lots of air doesn't count... to do comparable things in space you need rudders that work on the aether.

User avatar
Adacore
Posts: 2755
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:35 pm UTC
Location: 한국 창원

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Adacore » Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:44 am UTC

I believe the general theory with space battles is that, because of the extremely high speeds and distances involved (relative to planetary combat), the main issue is acceleration. If you're far enough away from an enemy ship, a random evasion pattern at relatively low G-forces is enough to avoid being hit by any non-guided attacks, up to and including relativistic and radiative (laser, for example) weapons. Ergo, the only thing that can hit at all is a missile which can execute extreme G-force manoeuvres - hence the need for inertial dampening and/or mini-FTL to make fighters viable.

One fictional technology that would make fighters very viable would, I suppose, be FTL akin to that in Andromeda, where it requires a lifeform with 'intuition' to pilot when in FTL - AI's can't do it. If you couple that with the volume/mass limitations, space fighters might be the most practical weapons. I still can't really think of a way to make them anything other than small, human-guided weapons delivery platforms, though. Superluminal weapons and sensors would negate the practicality of missiles, but I still can't think of anything that would make a human pilot better at the actual fire control tasks than a computerised system.

User avatar
gmalivuk
GNU Terry Pratchett
Posts: 26822
Joined: Wed Feb 28, 2007 6:02 pm UTC
Location: Here and There
Contact:

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Jan 16, 2011 6:51 am UTC

not baby Newt wrote:Not sure how far you get in a few days at 1 G, but it's probably a nice place for a FTL gateway.
In which case, dangerous acceleration won't be needed to get to an FTL gateway. But we're talking about space battles here, and the more something can accelerate, the better chance it has of hitting its target.
Unless stated otherwise, I do not care whether a statement, by itself, constitutes a persuasive political argument. I care whether it's true.
---
If this post has math that doesn't work for you, use TeX the World for Firefox or Chrome

(he/him/his)

User avatar
Wildhound
Posts: 248
Joined: Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:34 pm UTC
Location: Lost in Time.

Re: What fictional science is required for space-fighers?

Postby Wildhound » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

What if we imagine a situation where quantum computing and electronic warfare have both advanced to the point that two opponents in space combat can completely negate the other's ability to use computer automation and guidance systems, leaving only humans to pilot fighter craft, possibly armed with kinetic weapons or rockets?

The fighter craft would be necessary because it would be very risky to bring your capital ship in range of the opponent's effective EW range.

The details would need to be worked out on issues such as how the fighters' propulsion and navigation systems can still function but it's a step in the right direction. Similar to BSG I suppose but with both sides affected.


Return to “Fictional Science”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests