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What shape of ship would be optimized for space combat in the context of a future space navy? What advantages and disadvantages would the shape you have chosen have and why is it the best for future space warfare?

Space warfare will be in a close to hard science scenario. Space is a 3D environment where no stealth is possible because since space is cold, the tiniest amount of heat would radiate like a beacon. Most combat would be based on bringing your weapons to bear on the enemy as fast as possible, maneuvering as fast as possible or simply having redundant systems and long range firepower capability.

Assume technology has advanced 500 to 1000 years from the modern day. There is limited FTL, low intensity artificial gravity, and most weapons would be relativistic direct fire or guided.

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    – James
    Apr 2, 2018 at 17:28

31 Answers 31

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I think a simple cube or rectangular prism would be a preferred shape in space. Cubes are one of only a handful of 3D shapes that can be stacked together, they are simple, and there are no aerodynamics constraints in space. A basic cube would have small living quarters for any crew or computer/repair systems, and the rest would be filled with ordinance. If missiles are the way to win battles in space, then packing a cube full of missiles is the best way to go. In this way, the spaceship is less of a ship and more of a missile carrier.

In human warfare, the destructive power of weapons has increased much faster than the material strength of armor, leading to the creation of "active" armor, that responds to threats. A spaceship would likely have active armor, to prevent nukes or the future equivalent from melting the entire ship. Missiles will also likely be much faster, more maneuverable than their ship counterparts, and will probably never miss their target, so building small ships doesn't make sense. Larger ships will also be able to remain engaged in battles for longer and could better carry manufacturing equipment to built new ships, or at least replenish their stocks.

Tl;DR: Future ships may be cubes stuffed full of missiles, with some active defenses and manufacturing capabilities.

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