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Me

You might call me evil but the facts are I deserve to rule all of the world, everyone & everything in it.

What I already have done

For years I have worked in the shadows (as much as you can call owning one of the largest corporations in the world as "shadows") & now have a network of 1024 fully functioning satellites orbiting the earth. You people & your governments were actually silly enough to think they are merely communication satellites when I started launching those (well there have been a few who figured out the true use of them, but they have been silenced since).

The true use of the satellites is them being space nuclear launch facilities that are capable of wiping out humanity (or at least over 99.99% of it). Each satellite is equipped with the following:

  • 12 of the largest nukes humanity has ever seen (each equal in explosive power to the strongest nuke ever produced by a "government")
  • Cameras & radars of multiple wavelengths designed to detect any object launched from earth to space (assume that the network has no blind spots & covers every inch of earth)
  • Sensors capable of detecting the amount of pollution, temperature of earth, & other signs of global warming.
  • A directed optic laser based communication device between each satellite & the closest 5 other satellites. I'll go about this network in greater detail soon.

My plan

I intend on broadcasting to the world, letting them know about the satellites' true purpose & give them a list of my demands:

  1. They are not to launch anything to space; any launch of any object to space detected will trigger all the nukes' immediate launch.
  2. They are to stop any source of climate warming including any non 100% clean power production (see? I'm a generous ruler).
  3. They are all to bow down in front of me and make me the ruler of the world.

Obviously, I know that if they have any hope of stopping my extremely righteous plan they will use it, so this are the extra steps I've done to ensure that will be impossible:

  1. Every satellite sends a laser beam to the other 5 nearby satellites. The beam is encoded so it can't be spoofed from Earth. Should the encoding beam stop\send the wrong encoding for longer then a second all the satellites will launch their nukes & stop their own heartbeat laser beams thus triggering a cascading launch of all nukes from all satellites.
  2. The heartbeat beam acts as a sort of death man switch so should any satellite be destroyed again a cascading nuke launch will result in all other satellites.
  3. If any satellite detects the launch of anything from earth to space... you guessed it, cascading nuke launch.
  4. I have 100 dedicated henchman all over earth with a mobile device (a modified very strong laser pointer) that is capable of triggering a cascading nuke launch should any of them decide the world governments are not following my orders. This device is laser-based and can only trigger a launch, not stop it.
  5. There is no communication or control channels to the satellites, even I can't stop them.
  6. Should the satellites not detect a decrease in the amount of pollution pumped to the atmosphere following a preconfigured amount, you can probably guess what will happen.

Seeing as there are no humans in space in the time of launch capable of manually breaking into my satellites (I also have a kamikaze satellite going to take out the international space station), there is no network for anyone to hack into. Any new launch of anything from Earth to space will trigger the nukes from launching faster then it will take even the fastest of modern rockets to cover the distance between the atmosphere and my satellites, and the destruction of any satellite will trigger the nukes from all the other satellites in less then 2 seconds (yes I know it's risky and that random space debris might mean the death of billions of you but that's a risk I'm willing to take). I can't find a way for anyone to stop my plan.

The question

Am I right, given a modern tech level? Is there nothing that anyone can do to foil my plan? To be clear, I will consider any of the following to be my plan working as intended:

  1. Earth obeying my conditions.
  2. Humanity being (mostly) wiped out.

Is there anything I missed? anything anyone can do to stop me?

Edit

Because it's a repeating question assume all sensors will never fail... if I'm smart enough to launch this entire system to orbit without anyone knowing I'm smart enough to build a fail proof sensor (& movie logic is in place).

Edit some more

Because this are also repeating questions I'll answer them too... my henchman (well henchbeing... there are a couple of females and a intelligent hamster in the mix as well) are all 100% loyal and will never disobey me or work against me and will gladly thank me for the chance of dying to obey my orders... I made sure of that beyond any reasonable doubt by having them each surgically given a mind control chip, Also I'm in a super-duper ultra max secure nuclear fallout shelter that will take weeks for even the strongest armed forces to break into.

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    $\begingroup$ Question. Technology can fail. Not the same as a movie sensor. Evidently you don't want a situation where the world bows down, global warming declines, you are happy... then a faulty solder joint in satellite #407's power pcb causes its signal to drop or crackle, and the world (and you) go bang. What does your design have to say about that? Because that's the immediate weak point. $\endgroup$ – Stilez May 8 at 5:27
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    $\begingroup$ "They are to stop any source of climate warming including any non 100% clean power production (see? I'm a generous ruler)." People produce carbon dioxide by breathing. You've just sentenced the entire planet to death by asphyxiation. $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 May 8 at 6:48
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    $\begingroup$ What qualifies as "launched to space"? Would a weather balloon launched to the stratosphere by a remote research base that have not seen your broadcast accidentally trigger it? (If so, I give the Earth about 8 hours from you activating the satellites to nuclear winter...) $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal May 8 at 8:16
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    $\begingroup$ Space debris floats around and destroys satellites more often than we'd like. You're almost guaranteed to nuke Earth with how strict this is. $\endgroup$ – Hugo Zink May 8 at 11:56
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    $\begingroup$ Seems like you gave every terrorist on the planet the ability to make their own demands. “Do as I demand or I will turn on my 1970 Cadillac and kill you all!!!” (And me, but I don’t think that far ahead) $\endgroup$ – Ed Marty May 8 at 12:59

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First issue is that your system has so many "fail-safes" that a false positive is pretty much guaranteed to trigger a launch well before anyone has time to even discuss how to reduce emissions, much less, see any such plans through. If just one of your 6144 sensors malfunctions, or a solar flare messes with a signal, or XYZ corp doesn't get the memo in time and launches a satellite anyway, etc.

Second issue with this plan is that many governments already have anti-ballistic technologies. While most governments are rather hush-hush about the effectiveness of these systems, my bet is that you'll nuke all the 3rd world countries while the US, China, etc will probably detonate all your weapons in the upper atmosphere. There will be some significant environmental damage, but some nations might see this more as an opportunity to eliminate competition than a threat to their own safety.

Third issue with your plan (and this is the kicker), is that you will be unable to make that many nukes without someone noticing. The hardware and materials to make nukes is very specific and closely monitored by governments all over the world. Chances are, you will be discovered before your first satellite makes it to space, and WAY before you can deploy 256 gigatons worth.

So, how to make this plan work better?

To counter the 1st problem, you should consider having your loyal servants receive a notification if anything is out of order and if a set number of them agree that there is a true-positive, then they order the attack. If the governments of the world believe your system will kill them even if they do what you say, they will defy you no matter how small their odds of success.

For the second problem, don't arm your satellites. Make an actual array of communications satellites, and towers, fiber optic cabling, etc. An actual com gird will not arouse suspicion nearly as much as orbital nukes, but having control of it will be important. Instead of an orbital strike, you place a nuke in every major city around the world which can be detonated by your private network of highly redundant communications systems. Also, this means your nukes are way easier to hide; so, there is no need to detonate them all at once. If the USA does not cooperate, just blow up New York. World governments are still just as clueless about where your other nukes are; so, you still hold leverage to improve the world without destroying it. Also, this means you can work with smaller payloads. No need to buffer your arsonal with a bunch of extra warheads to account for what will be shot down, just do one nuke per city, each one only as big as it needs to be. This will mean a smaller nuclear program footprint to arouse suspicion, and less environmental damage if you have to make examples of a few cities.

For the last problem, your mega-corporation needs to invest in technologies that are LIKE a nuclear arms program, but not. You can't just hide the fact that you are enriching tons of uranium to make bombs, but perhaps, you could be enriching tons of uranium to make power plants, while cooking the books to ALSO be enriching tons of uranium to make bombs. By eliminating the need for guidance systems, heat shields, complex programming, and other components of ballistic missiles, your activities will look mostly benign. You could not do this alone, but if you position some of your 100 loyal folks in the right places in your supply, finance, and inspection chains, they could make stuff disappear while making everything look like it all adds up. This would give you a much better, though be it still small chance of going unnoticed.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch May 10 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ Moving nukes into towns is difficult. Otherwise the Soviets would done have exactly that with US cities, decades ago, and vice versa. (I hear that it's the radioactivity that the warheads give off that is being detected.) $\endgroup$ – toolforger May 10 at 5:59
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Is there nothing that anyone can do to foil my plan?

Accepting the hand-waving, you're holding the world hostage and making demands presumably because you want your demands to be met?

The problem is that you handed a trigger to all interested parties, who are free to make their own demands. Every government and terrorist organization (big enough to launch anything... triggering your system) now has a credible Doomsday device.

Your demands will be lost in the sea of other demands.

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    $\begingroup$ I think this is the biggest plot hole. Technical issues can be handwaved away, but this is a clear abuse of the system that you cannot ignore. $\endgroup$ – Deruijter May 8 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ More like "lost in a sea of radiation" thanks to the small but inevitable group of whackjobs that have no demands, as such, and simply want to destroy the world regardless of what anyone else does or does not do. That said, the OP posits that humanity being wiped out is an acceptable outcome for them, so their demands being met is not necessarily the ultimate goal. $\endgroup$ – jmbpiano May 8 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Not to mention the whole - You're bluffing I don't believe you launches rocket anyway $\endgroup$ – Glitch_Doctor May 10 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ Not everyone can launch things into space. It's limited to some countries, at best. I only see north korea seriously threatening for world destruction. $\endgroup$ – GlorfSf May 10 at 10:15
  • $\begingroup$ @GlorfSf I'm optimistic. schoolspacerace.com/school-space-race-winners-2017 $\endgroup$ – pants May 10 at 10:47
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Yes, nations who are stupid enough to allow a thousand of what are obviously nuclear missile platforms (I mean those things are big) to be placed into LEO do deserve to be manhandled this way. However...

I can see at least one scenario: the evil overlord's systems fail to work as planned. The reasons are numerous:

  1. Someone building these nukes realized how they'd be used and sabotaged one... or more...

  2. A henchman has a change of heart but knows the only way to foil EO's plans is to push the button.

  3. A henchman turns on EO and demands he acquiesce to HIS demands or else he pushes the button.

  4. Multiple henchmen turn, threaten EO and each other, and one of them pushes the button.

  5. The worst possible case: because it's very difficult to TEST such a system (in order to test it you have to build it and then use it and then deploy another one), then there are terrible bugs in the software and hardware that may spell a worse disaster than total annihilation: a partial annihilation that causes the slow and very painful death of humanity.

  6. A variation of #5 is that, due to the inability to test the deployed system, any number of problems prevent it from being able to carry out its mission, with the result that maybe Costa Rica gets nuked, and the rest of the world is suddenly united in a fervor to eliminate the EO and his apparatus post haste. Fast forward to a new fascist world empire or something, and we're back to misery, but we're not dead, and the EO is dead (if lucky) or alive and very unhappy.

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  • $\begingroup$ 2, 3 and 4 were things I had in mind for an answer myself, but if you look at the OP's responses to my comments on the question you'll see that they won't fly. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 7 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ But regarding (1): making 12k giant nukes and then launching them all into space is such a staggeringly vast enterprise with so many complex steps that it could not possibly operate in total secrecy. Absense of saboteurs seems almost implausible. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 7 at 17:38
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    $\begingroup$ You also need to conduct a test to prove to the world that you have nukes, that they are deployed, and ready to evaporate mankind. As long as it's just your word for it, it has little power... $\endgroup$ – cmaster May 7 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ @cmaster just claim a "97% consensus" among evil geniuses that you have them and the UN and world press will believe you. $\endgroup$ – jwenting May 9 at 4:09
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Others have mentioned that your starting premise is completely bonkers, but then permitted it as a handwave.

I don't think that's reasonable.

As @nosajimiki wrote: "Chances are, you will be discovered before your first satellite makes it to space, and WAY before you can deploy 256 gigatons worth."

But the problem is not limited to the fact that making the radioactive material for such nukes secretly is impossible, though it just simply is.

Nor that making the targeting, containment and detonation systems for such nukes secretly is impossible, though it just simply is.

Nor that putting it on a spaceship without a bajillion engineers knowing every component of it intimately is impossible... though once again, it simply is.

Nor that you would have a damn hard time finding a single engineer that would be OK with putting a nuke in orbit, and you have to find hundreds, not only in your organization, but in many others that your organization depends upon for supplies and services.

Nor that such things would be heavy, and launching them would require one of a very small number of launchers.

Nor that any satellite launched is studied and known deeply in multiple wavelengths, exactly because no superpower trusts any other not to sneak nukes into satellites, and are looking for exactly the telltale radiation signatures.

Nor that both Russia and the USA have made and tested satellite killers which are already deployed so would not have to even use @Willk's suggestion that "a militia of satellites is drafted into service".

The problem is in the combination of all the above and far more.

Now, Elon Musk might be the only private person on the planet who could overcome even some of these, having a heavy lift vehicle, and a horde of religiously-fanatical engineers following him, and spectacularly good guidance systems. But he has no nukes.

Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin could do the nukes, the launchers, and the engineers. But they still couldn't do it secretly. Launching a constellation of over a thousand nuclear satellites without detection or any engineering fuckups... that's simply not possible.

The scenario you depict won't ever be possible.

...until the first one of them has a base off-planet. Then, replace "a thousand nuke-bearing satellites" with "a thousand rocks a few hundred meters across or more that can be launched into the Earth's gravity well, gaining kinetic energy from gravity until impact". Or even just one big rock a few km across.

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    $\begingroup$ Just realised, Elon Musk "EM" is not that far from "EO" $\endgroup$ – Criggie May 8 at 7:14
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    $\begingroup$ Someone has taken a close look at all of Elon Musk's Starlink satellites, just to make absolutely sure... haven't they...? $\endgroup$ – BittermanAndy May 8 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ "Elon Musk ... But he has no nukes" that we know of! $\endgroup$ – dwizum May 9 at 14:00
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    $\begingroup$ If a British billionaire that is secretly a North Korean spy can put a giant supelaser battlestation in orbit without anyone noticing that it is actually a weapon, how difficult can it be to secretly build an array of orbital nuke launchers? $\endgroup$ – Eth May 9 at 17:08
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    $\begingroup$ @jymbob At the risk of reviving traumatic memories: the satellite is disguised as an orbital solar station, with the beam used to (oh god it's even worse than I remembered) "focus solar energy on a small area and provide year-round sunshine for crop development". But of course it is a laser weapon with the punch of a cruise missile and can shoot down ASATs (well, the single ASAT the US seem to have). The billionaire is the son of a North Korean general who used gene therapy to become British or something, and somehow made money (secretly?) with blood diamonds. Highly recommended, bring popcorn $\endgroup$ – Eth May 10 at 15:35
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  • The defenses you provided are inadequate to prevent the whole network from being taken out at once.
  • There are methods of taking out all the satellites instantly from the ground without launching anything.

    • The U.S. military has had the technology to make multi-megawatt one-shot chemical lasers for decades.
    • Build 1024 cannons that sit on a semi-truck.
    • Ship them all over the world.
    • Aim them all at once.
    • Give the command to fire.
    • All satellites vaporize instantly.
    • Even if one or two of the satellites get off a shot, Israeli made portable anti-missile trucks systems like David's Arrow are capable of cleaning up any warheads that make it close to the ground (with 99.9% probability).
  • The US government doesn't need to launch anything to take out your satellite network. They already have satellites in orbit that are designed to take out enemy spy satellites. The radars on your satellites all face the earth. The satellite killers would coast in from above and take out your satellites.

  • Assuming you want to live then your threat of blowing up the world is just a bluff, and there is nothing to stop others from blackmailing you into sharing power.

    • One of your 100 henchmen or some group of them could threaten to ruin everything and set off the nukes if you don't share power.

    • Any world government or private aerospace company could make the same threat by threating to launch into space and set off the satellite network.

    - Even if the world cooperated you can't prevent solar flairs form periodically blinding your network and possibly setting it off.

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    $\begingroup$ Ground based laser, microwave, or similar, was my choice too. $\endgroup$ – Stilez May 8 at 5:31
  • $\begingroup$ No they don't vaporize instantly. It will take a few minutes for the projectiles to reach the satellites. If at any point they get detected, the satellites will launch a nuclear strike long before you hit the satellites. Energy weapon of some sorts is a much better option. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv May 8 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @ventsyv Of course I didn't say fire a projectile. I said use laser beams. A laser beam travels at 299792458m/s. So it would only take a laser beam 0.001 seconds to travel 200 miles to low earth orbit. To go from the ground to geosynchronous orbit at 36000km would take 0.098 seconds. And no matter how long it takes a laser to reach you, its physically impossible to see it coming since your ability to see it is limited by the speed of light. $\endgroup$ – user4574 May 8 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ How likely do you think it is that developing, testing, mass-producing and deploying over a thousand rather huge anti-satellite lasers worldwide would go unnoticed? Or that the U.S. have a sufficient number of satellites already in place to hit over a thousand targets within less than a second? I'm torn between "no way in a million years" and "if the villain can handwave that much, why not the heroes?" $\endgroup$ – Ruther Rendommeleigh May 9 at 11:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Ruther - the world doesn't have to hide the laser development and production program from everyone, only from the EO and his henchmen. The US has a long history of developing planes and other weapons in secret, and it would be even easier if Russia and China were helping. $\endgroup$ – Robin Bennett May 9 at 14:07
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Any new launch of anything from Earth to space will trigger the nukes from launching faster then it will take even the fastest of modern rockets to cover the distance between the atmosphere and my satellites

What's that behind you?

Your satellites are watching vigilantly for threats from below, but there are lots of satellites already out past Earths orbit. Lunar reconnaissance satellites, Indian moon missions, solar explorers and so on.

In this scenario, a militia of satellites is drafted into service, gathered under the guidance of two Indian astronauts on their way back from the moon. This ragtag bunch of misfits quietly assembles behind the nukes and then on the signal wipes them out before they have a chance to react.

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    $\begingroup$ This is what I would have answered as well. De-orbiting a vast barrage of satellites to knock out the network all at once. Sure humanity loses a ton of infrastructure we've spent decades building up there but it saves billions of lives. $\endgroup$ – Muuski May 7 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ You'd have to simultaneously wipe out 1024 satellites, with only 2 astronauts and whatever they can scrape together beyond the net of (presumably) geostationary nuclear platforms. Also many satellites will plumet to earth. I assume nuclear warheads are fairly safe before arming, but still seems dangerous to have crashed nuclear platforms lying around $\endgroup$ – Skidsdev May 7 at 20:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Skidsdev - never tell me the odds... $\endgroup$ – Willk May 7 at 21:11
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    $\begingroup$ To add to this, the crew could just rotate the satellites 180° so that they face away from the planet. This way, even if the missiles are fired, they’d simply be fired away from Earth, saving the lives of its population. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 7 at 22:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Skidsdev you don't have to take out every satellite, just most, a few nuclear detonations are tragedies but not world enders. worse the rebound will likely cause people to pollute more out of spite (yes humans are this stupid) $\endgroup$ – John May 7 at 22:58
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So, here is why your plan fails. Rather satisfactorily, too, it's because of the classic "evil overlord" problem - being too evil.

... Each satellite is equipped with the following:

  • 12 of the largest nukes humanity has ever seen (each equal in explosive power to the strongest nuke ever produced by a "government") ...

Evil overlords traditionally leave minor details to their henchmen and scientists, so let's assume you just ordered "the most powerful" types. A dozen rather massive thermonuclear (H-bomb) warheads for every satellite. What do you know about the design of those, Mr. Overlord? Apparently not enough.

You see, if you'd just gone with normal weapons, this would probably work. But you had to go with the "strongest" kind..... and therein lies your plan's inevitable downfall.

Nukes fall into 2 kinds. In a fission weapon (A-bomb), you collapse some fuel and provided it's held together for the fraction of a second it takes for a sizeable wallop of fission to happen, you get an explosion. That's partly what the very strong steel around it, is for - so it can't fly apart before that's happened. In a fusion weapon (H-bomb, technically fission-fusion, or for the most powerful, fission-fusion-fission or even more stages), an initial fission bomb gets going, but the radiation is redirected to a chunk of fusion fuel, which is immensely compressed and heated by the sheer heat and radiation pressure of the primary's X-rays and their effect on the nearby material, and therefore itself starts a fusion reaction. Optionally that's surrounded in turn by more fission fuel, which is itself irradiated and provides more pressure and containment from the outside, and so it goes on...

Nukes are tricky to make. Very ticky. Very, very, very tricky. Fusion weapons are immensely more delicate and tricky than fission weapons. They all require insanely fine timing and precision, but fusion weapons far more so. In a classic implosion fission design, you have to compress a sphere almost perfectly - from all sides, with microsecond or better precision. Fusion weapons are worse - they need insanely tight timings - I think they were once compared to lighting a fire from 2 treetrunks in a thunderstorm using a single wet match balanced on an airplane wing or something crazy. (OK, I lied about the airplane wing, but you get the idea). They aren't just like gunpowder where you light it and they go off, or a lump of steel where you drop it and it smashes whatever's below. They need insanely tight tolerances for every part of the process. Insanely precise-engineered shapes for containers, and insanely precise-shaped explosive charges. Insanely precise explosives so the shock fronts are guaranteed to reach exactly the right time at the right place. Insanely engineered initiators to start off those shock fronts. Insanely precise computer-controlled multi-stage initiation sequences to fire these off at correct nanosecond intervals. Insanely precise physical positioning of components to ensure the signals do what they should, where they should, at the precise intended nanoseconds of the initiation sequence. You get the idea.

If that firing sequence doesn't happen exactly as it should, or the case is distorted in an unplanned manner (by unexpected asymmetric heat), or whatever, then all you have left is a mildly radioactive blob that does nothing, or fizzles, or produces a squelch that's asymmetric in time or space by some miniscule amount. What you don't have, is the immense and perfectly balanced pressure build-up in microseconds/milliseconds needed for the primary fission explosion, and if you did, you wouldn't have the pressure correctly balanced for the main fusion stage.

Which means that every nuke ever built, is also an insanely precision engineered product. Disrupt its precision even slightly, cause anything to move a fraction or work not-as-designed, and you have a lump of mildly radioactive debris and not a lot more. With an A-bomb that debris is at least likely to do severe damage (lots of plutonium which is horribly toxic, everywhere). But you wanted "the most powerful" weapons, and the most powerful fusion weapons will aim to optimise fusion (not fission) reactions, so a lot of their fuel is honestly pretty harmless in the great scheme of things. And it's inside a casing for re-entry protection, which will contain it in the event of a crash.

Which means, my dear Overlord, your plan is - colloquially - screwed. Because down here on earth, we've been building about 24k missiles with proximity detectors, that can generate a decent EMP, and also for what its worth, will try to home in on your missiles. 2 each for your 10k warheads, just for safety.

The nice thing about EMP (or indeed nuclear missiles if that's what a decent EMP requires) is that they don't have to be a direct hit at all. They only have to be close enough that either the EMP or the explosion disrupts the electronics. And that's not hard to do at all. Then your missiles are so much dead weight with a little dirty fuel in a big casing.

Aside from the EMP itself, shock/blast waves and intense heat/radiation won't be great for any warheads within quite a distance as well. (There could also be high speed debris from damaged warheads, but that's less clear and might have little or no effect, so I'm ignoring that part.)

As a bonus, some will be hit directly (not all, direct hits are tricky). Others will have their altitude sensors - needed for precise firing - wiped out for sure.

Given careful planning and simultaneous launches from underground silos/submarines, I don't think any will actually explode as planned.

If only you'd stuck to dropping huge lumps of RDX or something that wasn't so dramatic or evil-sounding, but also wouldn't be so affected by disruptions..........

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  • $\begingroup$ So basically EMP the rockets? $\endgroup$ – cypher May 8 at 8:07
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    $\begingroup$ Or nuke them midway as they arrive, or anything that causes even a miniscule amount of physical or electronic disruption, or significantly and asymmetrically heats and distorts the casing, or affects their external sensors.... loads of things. EMP is just the one that's most fun. Not my fault if the Evil Overlord chose a weapon that's immensely delicate and affected by non-contact actions even at considerable distance, is it... ;-) $\endgroup$ – Stilez May 8 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ "As a bonus, some will be hit directly (not all, direct hits are tricky)." Wouldn't it be better to avoid direct hits to preserve the re-entry casing as you describe, preventing the spread of any radioactive material? Also: "If that firing sequence doesn't happen exactly as it should, or the case is distorted in an unplanned manner (by unexpected asymmetric heat)..." Could sunlight or any other normal space radiation do this? $\endgroup$ – jpmc26 May 8 at 8:37
  • $\begingroup$ I knew I should have gone with multiple types of nukes... not my fault that evil-r-us had such a great sale on that one type only... $\endgroup$ – cypher May 8 at 8:58
  • $\begingroup$ @jpmc26 - better to be safe than sorry. As the exact design isn't known, aim to maximise the chance of destruction of the detonation process, rather than trying to finesse it and maybe letting some through. As for the space environment, presumably, nukes (or anything else) designed for use in or from space, will be designed to handle usual space environment. We can credit the Evil Overlord with that, I think. It's a bit like how ships are designed to handle most extreme storms, although but not necessarily every possible huge wave or storm. $\endgroup$ – Stilez May 8 at 9:14
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Your plan has a fundamental flaw that is nothing to do with technology or process.

Human beings are stupid and won't believe you.

I mean it's not like they don't already know the earth is doomed if they don't cut back on carbon emissions, but it isn't happening.

So basically there is always going to be someone, some government or organization, who thinks that you are bluffing. Or thinks they have found a way to defeat you, even if they haven't. They will try something - destroying a satellite, killing your henchmen, nuking your own hideout (wherever that is - and don't try saying "it's in a big city", that won't stop them) And since all your countermeasures involve blowing up the earth, that is what will happen. You will undoubtedly end up as ruler of a smoking ruin of a planet.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is why you do the typical “and now for a demonstration” bit where you test fire the evil killer sats at real targets right before you deliver your demands. $\endgroup$ – Joe May 8 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ A good point but I maintain that even demonstrations will not prevent humans from acting stupid. $\endgroup$ – DJClayworth May 8 at 1:36
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    $\begingroup$ Also, "Human beings are stupid and will believe you" - all it takes is one radical cult who have been preaching the end of the world to build and launch a home-made rocket that gets high enough to trigger the launch... Quite possibly the most pyrrhic "I told you so" ever. $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal May 8 at 8:28
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Just push the red button

You don't care if the population of earth obeys you or is destroyed, so just push the Launch button and be done with it. The world's nations have been asleep at the wheel to let you amass a nuclear arsenal greater than the combined force of every country on earth, and to then put them into orbit on "telecommunication satellites" that are many times larger than any other communication satellite ever launched. You have everything you need to destroy the planet, so just do it already - what are you even waiting for?

As stated by the OP, victory conditions are either subjugation or annihilation of humanity. Annhilation can be achieved with near-certainty right now - there is no reason to take even a slim chance of failure for the domination win. Going for domination allows people time to thwart your plan, and it'd be difficult to foresee all possible countermeasures. If you go for annihilation, the only way to fail is to have the nukes shot down en route from satellite to target, dramatically limiting the time and options for those that oppose you.

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    $\begingroup$ A madman never reveals his secrets... have you ever considered I want them to feel powerless before they die & know that if they just obeyed me the would have survived? $\endgroup$ – cypher May 7 at 17:40
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    $\begingroup$ This is less of an answer to the OP's question and more of a question itself. $\endgroup$ – Muuski May 7 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ Hi, Nuclear. I'm guessing that this was meant to be a humorous contribution on a site that isn't a discussion forum. To make it a Frame Challenge you would need to justify how the OP's solution is unsuitable (you haven't). $\endgroup$ – JBH May 7 at 22:49
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH I'm actually not being facetious or offering a frame challenge. The OP defines success as having his demands fulfilled or destroying humanity, with no stated preference for one or the other. As the scenario is defined, all the hard work of building the nukes and putting them into orbit is finished. He shouldn't wait around for someone to sabotage his plan; if he acts now, literally the only way to prevent annihilation is to intercept all the nukes between the satellites and the ground. In the scenario the OP has laid out, he has basically already won. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Wang May 8 at 12:28
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    $\begingroup$ Exactly! Why have conflicting goals? "I will consider any of the following to be my plan working as intended: (1) Earth obeying my conditions. (2) Humanity being (mostly) wiped out." ... Why bother with option 1, which involves a lot of potential for false positives, when you can just immediately proceed to option 2? To answer OP: You've already won. Push the red button already. $\endgroup$ – LukeN May 8 at 14:28
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Well it's a long shot but parts of Earth could survive if some of the nukes are intercepted. Missile defense systems using counter missiles, bullets or lasers are plausible, and the kind of thing that would be a government secret. Stopping all the nukes is unlikely but possibly the USA/China stops all/most of the nukes heading for them leading to partial survival. Nuclear winter would still be a factor but easier to survive than being nuked.

Alternatively secret government attack satellites might be in orbit and could possibly destroy several of your satellites prior to launch. Stopping all of the satellites is once again probably impossible but taking down some seems plausible.

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  • $\begingroup$ If a non trivial percentage of humanity survives my plan would fail... so maybe concentrating in saving some is a possible workaround $\endgroup$ – cypher May 7 at 17:46
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    $\begingroup$ Given that in the OP's world, one determined person can put 12k giant nukes in space apparently without anyone noticing, the existence of massive totally secret defence systems and a pre-existing network of killsats seems entirely plausible. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime May 7 at 17:46
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You don't have enough nukes to destroy humanity.

You've got:

1024 sets of "12 of the largest nukes humanity has ever seen (each equal in explosive power to the strongest nuke ever produced by a "government")"

That nuke is the Tsar Bomba which had a 50 megaton yield as tested but was designed to go up to 100 megatons. So you've got about a million megatons.

In an average year there are 45 hurricanes. Together they have an equivalent yield of five million megatons. Sure it's mostly spread out, but that's happening every year.

A lot of people are going to have a bad day (in 2016 there were 336 cities with a population of over 1 million,) but humanity will probably bounce back.

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    $\begingroup$ i feel like 12,000 Tsar Bombas would cause so much nuclear fallout, tsunamis, and general chaos that it would pretty much wipe out the modern world as we know it? $\endgroup$ – don bright May 8 at 3:52
  • $\begingroup$ "pretty much wiping out the modern world as we know it" is not a victory condition. $\endgroup$ – Roger May 8 at 13:38
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Leave the Planet

A possible solution is to send as many people into space as possible to avoid the impending nuclear destruction. They might not even need to leave Earth’s orbit, just get above the nuclear explosions.

Your best option for this is likely an SSTO (single stage to orbit) spacecraft, essentially a space plane. I believe Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has plans to develop space planes for commercial purposes. A government could easily commandeer their spaceplanes and use them to ship people into space.

Although, i doubt you would be able to get many people off the planet and, even when you did, where would they go? The ISS is doomed and wouldn’t be able to hold enough people anyway. You could possibly leave people on the moon and sort things out later.

Underground Bunkers

A traditional but effective way of dealing with aerial (or orbital this case) bombardment is to get people underground. Essentially you have nuclear missile facilities, like the one in Switzerland, where the population goes in the event of a nuclear attack. This way, whilst the surface is being destroyed, a significant portion of the world population will survive the attack, far more than 0.01% you anticipated (though regrettably, those in less developed countries, such as many countries in Africa, are significantly less likely to survive).

Fight Fire With Fire

So you have thousands of nukes orbiting the planet? They are just sitting ducks up there: their trajectories are easily predictable, you have no way of communicating with them to move them (which you admitted to yourself) and there is no mention of them having any RCS thrusters or the like to dodge an incoming missile.

Whilst your satellites may be able to detect any missiles fired at them from earth, that is hardly an issue. Small, heat-seeking counter-missiles can be fired from everywhere on Earth as soon as you fire your nukes. Triggering the sensors wouldn't even matter at that point, the payload has already been fired. The idea is that these counter-missiles would detonate your nukes well before they hit the ground and, because of the size of your nukes, the nuclear explosion is likely to cause a domino effect, destroying the rest of the payload and the satelite that fired those nukes.

Doing this to the first missile you fired from every satellite could save billions of lives. 1024 missiles is not a lot relative to the entire world’s weaponry. Also, they don’t even have to be large or powerful missiles, just a small explosion to trigger the nukes that you fired. Whilst the population of Earth may have to worry about a nuclear winter, at least many people have survived and your plan has been foiled.

Operation: Smokescreen

Whilst you mention your sensors will never fail, perhaps this can be used against you. It may be possible to trick your sensors or blind them. Using emitters, it may be possible to replicate the signal the satellites are receiving which prevents them from detonating. Doing this to all the satellites in the world could buy humanity some time, you can now no longer control when they do or don't fire, it doesn't matter anymore if your henchmen stop the signal, the satellites are still receiving the same signal from other emitters, nullifying your control.

Alternatively, you could also trick the sensors into believing nothing has been fired from earth by relaying a false signal to the sensors. Its essentially the equivalent of placing a photograph in front of a CCTV camera. Again, this would buy people more time to deal with the satellites.

Call Your Bluff

If your goal is to become the ruler of Earth and everyone and everything in it, you aren’t actually going to fire the missiles.

Okay so lets assume you aren’t bluffing and you actually fire the missiles, everyone and everything on Earth is killed and destroyed. Now what?

You are now the king of dead world. An irradiated, uninhabitable wasteland of a planet. No architecture exists, no life exists, everything has been annihilated by your hand. What was the point? There is no one rule, no governments to control, no wealth to accumulate, there is nothing. If your goal was to rule the world then you have failed, there is nothing left to rule. Your failure will haunt you for as long as you live and will be evident long after you’re gone, the husk of a planet you left in ruin will remain there, lifeless, for the rest of its days.

Humanity can simply call your bluff, you will not destroy the world because you stand to gain nothing by doing so.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hitting a nuke with a missile is not going to detonate the nuke, it will just blow it up. You won’t get a chain reaction of nukes exploding in orbit. Even if you did though, that would be a lot of radioactive fallout all over the planet... $\endgroup$ – Ed Marty May 8 at 14:08
  • $\begingroup$ @EdMarty Detonate, blow it up, whats the difference bar pedantics? The missile will still cause the nuke to explode. Also, why wouldn’t you get a chain reaction? One nuke would explode which will cause the rest to explode or explode the satellite carrying them. Finally, i did recognise the fallout, i said there would be a nuclear winter as a result of the in orbit detonations. However that is more survivable than being hit directly with a nuclear missile. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 8 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ What I mean is the nuke will act like anything else being blown up. The nuke will not “go off”, as it is nigh impossible to accidentally set off a nuke. It’s not just sitting around waiting for somebody to bump it a bit (or a lot). A specific triggering mechanism is required for anything to happen on a nuclear scale. $\endgroup$ – Ed Marty May 8 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ @EdMarty Perhaps a bomb that isn’t armed is not easy to accidentally set off, a live bomb though might be a bit of a different story. The nuke has been fired with the intent of detonating upon impact, its armed and is ready to explode. Firing a missile at this nuke would likely cause it to explode and create a nuclear explosion. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 8 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ I don’t believe so. The triggering mechanism, once triggered, causes the nuclear explosion nearly instantaneously. Until it is triggered, it’s nothing more than a gigantic paperweight with rocket boosters. Being blown up will likely stop the triggering mechanism from functioning. $\endgroup$ – Ed Marty May 8 at 22:37
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Normal launches aren't the only way to space

Your satellites are watching for any kind of rocket launch, but you've said nothing about watching for things that are already in orbit. For that reason, I assume that you're looking for some kind of launch.

If you examine the SABRE rocket engine, you'll see that it is likely that it can enable a Single Stage To Orbit design. Don't worry about reentry, and make the plane invisible to radar, and you've got a plane that can probably make it to space without looking like it's going there, at least in the range that you're probably looking for launch signatures. If I launch it off the back of a modified Hercules or the like, I won't even be running rocket engines below 30,000 feet.

Alternately, requiring a bit more work, someone could build a railgun and launch a satellite directly into orbit. As it's ballistic until it hits space, it would probably escape detection. A person can't survive this kind of launch, but a satellite that would attach to one of your satellites (and thus enable hacking the network) would be possible.

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  • $\begingroup$ If his satellites have infrared monitoring of the earths temperature then they would likely pick up the heat from an approaching rocket, even if it was radar invisible. $\endgroup$ – user4574 May 8 at 2:44
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One of many problems with your plan is that many nations are developing ground-based lasers that can shoot down satellites. If these work, they could take down all the satellites at once with no need to launch anything. An alpha strike of lasers could in principle take all the satellites out at once, at the speed of light.

You also can’t just force everyone to do what you want by threatening to nuke them, especially when they can nuke you back. If you’re bluffing, someone will call you on it. If you’re not, someone will call you on it. There’s a reason the US and Soviet Union didn’t order each other to surrender or be nuked.

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  • $\begingroup$ I’ve corrected your answer, the article you linked is talking about ground-based ballistic missiles, not lasers. “The Chinese military used a ground-based missile to hit and destroy one of its aging satellites orbiting more than 500 miles in space”, “the Chinese ballistic missile reached as high as some US spy satellites are positioned” and “Chinese satellite was shot down on Jan. 11 using a ground-based medium-range ballistic missile, which slammed into its target 537 miles above earth” $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 7 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris Ah, sorry! They have lasers, too. $\endgroup$ – Davislor May 7 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris I changed it again because saying they have anti-satellite missiles doesn’t address this scenario. By assumption, missiles would be detected on launch. An alpha strike of lasers could take them all out without warning, since laser beams travel at the speed of light. $\endgroup$ – Davislor May 7 at 22:22
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, i think you may have misunderstood that article, its not saying they have laser weaponry, it is saying they are using a laser to target the satellites. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris May 7 at 22:23
  • $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris That wasn’t the correct citation, you’re right. But Russia, China and the US are all developing anti-satellite lasers, and supposedly, some of them work. $\endgroup$ – Davislor May 7 at 22:25
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There is one critical weak point in this whole scheme, and that's YOU. The minute you announce your evil scheme, all of the world's special forces will be mobilized to find and eliminate you, personally. The scenario ends with you taken out by a sniper before you have a chance to signal your minions. They can then impersonate you, order the minions to stand down and return to base, capture or kill them all (more snipers), then work at their leisure to find a way to safely deactivate the satellite network.

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You need a few tweaks to make your plan more likely to work.

First off you are never going to be able to get the nuclear material together without being noticed. Uranium and Plutonium fuels for fission warheads are radioactive and very easy to detect. What you need is to develop a pure fusion bomb, which can be detonated from non-radioactive lighter elements. I suggest you form an energy company possibly specializing in high-end batteries to allow you to amass large quantities of lithium (useful for fusion). If possible place your factory in a sparsely populated region to allow you to conduct research without being noticed, maybe someplace like Nevada.

So you have your undetectable bombs, but how do you get them to orbit without anyone noticing. What you need to do is start your own rocket company, but you will also need to come up with a reason to launch thousands of satellites. The answer is as you've said is to sell them as communications satellites. The trick here is that of the proposed 10,000+ satellites launched most of them actually are communications satellites, so that periodic inspections and a functioning communication network make it much less suspicious.

You are also going to need to be active on social media and get many people interested in you; something like a cult of personality needs to be generated. This makes it much more likely to get trusted lieutenants who will follow you and more credible than turning over governance of the world to a complete unknown. Besides if you do the things required to put this plan in place people will notice. So rather than try and hide, which will fail, hide in plain sight as an eccentric billionaire CEO.

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    $\begingroup$ And how are you planning to detonate your pure fusion bombs?!? You won't be able to do that with chemical explosives, and you won't be able to do that with any technology that's even considered as a far-fetched way to get some bit of fusion going for energy production purposes. Detonating a fusion bomb is much harder than just igniting some fusion in a power plant... The only working way to detonate a fusion bomb is to use a fission bomb. And there we are back to Uranium and Plutonium... $\endgroup$ – cmaster May 7 at 22:51
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I can see two countermeasures.

First your satellites have to communicate to maintain proper orbit and not collide with space junk, so there is a way it. Your agents communications also has some kind of authentication code so that is a second way in.

second, the world just needs to launch its counter measures to orbit all at once, they know exactly where your satellites are and a high atmospheric detonation is not a huge problem. There are literally thousands of missiles available to try and knock out your warheads before they reach effective altitude, not to mention plane based lasers, and a few other ideas. Warheads are delicate machinery a counter detonation can knock them out the emp has a decent chance as well. if your nukes are designed to detonate high they have a decent chance of knocking each other out.

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  • $\begingroup$ The evil satellites will detect the launch instantly and will launch the nukes way before the attacking rockets reach them. Detection happens at the speed of light (radar), the rockets will need a few minutes to reach their targets. $\endgroup$ – ventsyv May 8 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ detection may happen at the speed of light but identification of a rockets path happens much slower, otherwise any bright flash, fire, or volcano is going to set off your system. $\endgroup$ – John May 8 at 18:46
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Problem: Your plan will fail when attempting to make nuclear weapons

You plan calls for 12,288 nuclear warheads. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was invaded by an international military coalition because it thought about maybe building one. Saddam had the largest army in the Middle East, and it didn’t ammount to much. How many armored divisions does your evil rich guy have?

Assuming you could get away with building one nuclear weapon, you’re not going to get away with building 2x the nuclear weapons of the holder of the most nuclear weapons in the world. That requires lots of uranium and plutonium. Ignoring that these are some of the most heavily regulated and monitored commodities in the world, buying that much is going to make the price of those things go up a lot. Even the stupid investors in your evil conglomerate are going to notice that you’re buying vastly more plutonium than could ever be justified by some benign purpose.

Solution: Don’t use nuclear weapons in your killsats

Your killer satellites have the advantage of being in orbit, which means any projectile they launch at the Earth will pick up lots of energy for free thanks to Earth’s gravity. You simply don’t need nuclear weapons to create great destructive power; you can throw small asteroids or other rocks and get as much or more devastation.

If you use asteroids, then you have the additional benefit of being able to expand your cover story to explain everything; Evil Corp is launching all of that stuff into space because it’s becoming the humanity’s leader in the space mining business. After all, it’s only the logical thing for your evil rich dude to do considering that he’s been cultivating a public image of caring about the impact of humanity on the Earth, including its scarce non-renewable resources like metals.

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kessler_syndrome

Kessler syndrome might be a cool way to ruin this plan. It's sort of an idea where there's a ton of space debris orbiting earth at incredibly destructive velocities. If such a piece of debris impacts a spacecraft, it instantly turns it into more space debris, causing a chain reaction.

So the idea is to have as many as possible spacecrafts crash, cross your fingers to cause a chain reaction. If it works, at least some of your satellites will instantly be wrecked. Possibly even many or all.

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    $\begingroup$ Kessler syndrome would not be instant; a deliberately triggered Kessler type event would be detectable and would leave enough time to get off a launch. Also, it’s possible to avoid Kessler syndrome damaging all of his satellites if they’re in different high altitude orbits (which they probably would be). If anything, a smart defensive tactic would be to trigger a Kessler event at LEO to prevent surface launches. $\endgroup$ – Joe May 8 at 11:44
  • $\begingroup$ He has an excellent point though. The first accidental collision will probably trigger the other 1023 satellites to launch nukes. Mr. Evil Overlord said even he can't turn them off, so this is going to happen sooner or later. $\endgroup$ – Joshua May 8 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua - I liked that you refer to me as Mr. Evil Overlord... would you consider a position in my "Army of Evil"? $\endgroup$ – cypher May 11 at 19:20
  • $\begingroup$ @cypher: Only if you can avoid being a stupid evil overlord. $\endgroup$ – Joshua May 11 at 19:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Joshua you dare offend your just ruler? I shall have my laser sharks nibble on your legs to the BONE!!! $\endgroup$ – cypher May 11 at 20:34
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Seriously ?

Your plan doesn't account for a simple fact: Human nature.

As the intended future ruler of humanity, you should be better educated in that area, seriously. This is going to blow up in your face, literally.

Because all it takes is someone, somewhere who will intentionally trigger your system, cross your line, and get all those nukes raining down on everyone. There are more than enough wakos, religious nutjobs, mentally ill people, psychopathic dictators, sociopathic leaders of so-called free countries, and given that you were able to execute your plan - people within your circles you needed to be smart (this is literally rocket science) and thus probably saw your plan or large parts of it while it was still being built and yet didn't stop you.

In short: There are enough very, very dangerous people in the world that it's already a little surprising we haven't nuked ourselves yet. You just made that so much easier that it is almost sure to happen.

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Your plan will fail, nations can just wait you out - nuclear material decays. It'll only take a few years before you don't have nuclear weapons in space, just expensive missiles carrying non-fissile material.

https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/xc9n5/how_long_does_a_nuclear_warhead_last_in_storage/

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  • $\begingroup$ "Should the satellites not detect a decrease in the amount of pollution pumped to the atmosphere following a preconfigured amount..." $\endgroup$ – Muuski May 8 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Muuski Assuming the plan was ever designed to succeed, a few years isn't enough time to actually reduce pollution even if we focus on it worldwide. At best we could start reducing the amount of pollution we're creating, but it'll take a hell of a lot before we could become pollution-negative. $\endgroup$ – David Rice May 8 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ This; and when you try to create and/or send up replacement nuclear weapons ... $\endgroup$ – mcalex May 10 at 6:27
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Assuming that it reached this level, then it would not fail. All insanely hard and unlikely to succeed work is already completed.

The hurdles on the way:

  • 1024 communication satellites? To cover all Earth Iridium needs 76 + plus 6 as back up.
  • each Iridium satellite weight at launch 689 kg. The biggest nuke actually deployed as a weapon by the US was B53 with meagre 9 megatons weighting slightly above 4 tons. Assuming that you made some breakthrough to make them a dozen times more powerful, we're talking here about satellites weighting 50 tones. [For comparison International Space Station weights 420 tones and its the most impressive human space installation. So you effectively need to launch in to space objects weighting at least 122 times more than ISS in a way that no one raised eyebrow]
  • Oh... and cold war era quantities of weapon grade plutonium, lithium-6 and deuterium

Conclusion: military and intelligence agencies that missed such overkill space and nuclear project are unable to defend against a mentally unstable person armed with a knife, not mentioning someone with nuclear warheads.

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Make very sure that all of the ground devices and installations needed are independent of the power grid. If your demand to "switch off these and these power sources" is followed verbatim, it could shoot you in the foot in a very ironic way.

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This "evil overlord plan" to make someone overlord of earth seems more like a simple "evil plan" to wipe out most of humanity, probably including the evil would-be overlord.

It has too many atomic weapons on a hair trigger dead man's switch. Unless everything goes according to the optimistic plans of the would be evil overlord the dead man's switches will be activated and the bombs will be launched. Then the term "dead man's switch" will become highly appropriate because the would be evil overlord and his minions will very probably be among those killed in the atomic holocaust.

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One point that hasn't been brought up yet is the reentry atmospheric heating of your bombs/missles. Coming from orbit down to a reasonable detonation altitude will require a significant heat shield to protect your bomb and material from the intense heat. This adds mass to your launch, and your "communication satellites" will be given much more scrutiny if you have heat shield materials included, as that is not something that one would reasonably expect on a satellite that isn't designed to survive a reentry.

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The problem is how loyal are your minions? Will they commit mass suicide if you are arrested or killed or would they be tempted to take your place?

What if they start demanding things on their own? Looks to me that you all have the same power, so they'll start seeing themselves as your equal. Surely the CIA, KGB, etc will make sure that they do. Now instead of being an evil overlord with total power you'll have to deal with 100 others.

What if the world accepts you as their evil overlord, but then, over time, your minions start dying from what looks like natural causes? You suspect a foul play, but you can't respond because the only card you have to play is to trigger the attack.

Further more, they might just reject your demands out right, or string you along with promises - you won't have any recourse other then triggering the satellites so they'll just keep pushing to see how much they can get away with.

"You want to move into the White House? Absolutely! Just give us a few days to get the president out and renovate for you. In the mean time let me get you a hotel... Hmm, it seems the only room available is in Budget Inn - DC is so crowded because every is here to see your Evil Imperial Majesty's coronation... By the way, that's being slightly delayed - nothing to worry about - we are just trying to make it the most magnificent event ever and that takes time, you know... "

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I want to look at this from a different angle. Let's assume you have all these nukes. Let's assume you can bully the world into submission. Let's assuming we can flip a switch on pollution and climate change. You still can't win.

Let's start with your demands.

The first demand is so trivial it doesn't need addressing. If we have to, I'm sure we can manage without space-based thingymagoogs.

The second demand is actually where it falls. I'm not even talking about how realistic it is, but about what the ask itself. You're asking for the end of pollution. That's noble. It sure would be nice. But the problem is you are asking. Why is it a problem?

Scenario 1: the world complies. No more pollution. Everybody wins. Then of course we move to the next demand.

Scenario 1.1: the world complies, again. You are ruler. Your only downfall is you're only ruling by fear. History shows it rarely ends well for you. There will be a lot of angry people vs exactly one of you. Do you feel lucky? Does victory look like a bullet to the forehead at your inauguration?

Scenario 1.2: the world tells you off (about the ruling thing). Then what? Well, before we go down that rabbit hole, let's back up and explore scenario 2, because it'll end up about the same.

Scenario 2: the world tells you off (about the pollution thing). Then what?

See, your problem is exactly here. You care about the fate of the planet, you wouldn't be mounting such a crazy scheme if you didn't. You know what people that don't care do: nothing. You care. But if the world flat out refuses, what does that tell you? That they don't care. Your threat is to blow up the thing you care about. They'll laugh at your face and tell you "go ahead, see if we care". And did I say they don't?

Scenario 2.1 which is also Scenario 1.2.1: you trigger the end of the world. Not only have you destroyed the thing you cared about, but at best you're the only thing left alive on a lifeless rock. How long before you go mad and/or just shoot yourself in the head? I know this counts as achieving your plan as per your question, but is it really a win?

Scenario 2.2 which is also Scenario 1.2.2: you half-trigger the end of the world, or trigger the end of half of the world. The rest is bullied into submission. We're back to scenario 1.1, where you rule only by fear and it doesn't end well for you.

Scenario 2.3 which is also Scenario 1.2.3: you don't trigger the end of the world. The world has called your bluff and you gained nothing. Likely, they kill you anyways for trying.

Scenario 3: the world complies. You rule by fear, but somehow everything goes fine. Eventually, you die of old age. The power vacuum you leave is so immense the world goes back exactly where it started, if not worse. I suppose in this scenario you don't live long enough to see yourself lose, that might count as a win.


Your plan, like many evil alleged geniuses' plans, you lack a critical part: an endgame.

If your actual goal is power, forget about it and be happy being the head of the largest conglomerate on Earth. That's more power than most presidents anyways.

If your actual goal is to save the planet, forget the whole doomsday scenario. Use your resources and technology to fight climate change. Do something about it rather than asking someone else to solve it for you, you hypocrite. You've got the power to be the hero after all.

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You should have read more about waging Nuclear war... you're over powered, under built, and exposed your entire arsenal's location, and you threatened a first strike. Anyone of these is a bad play in Nuclear Warfare. All of them mean you're an idiot.

MORE POWER

The only time nuclear weapons were deployed in war was the famous Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks... and had the latter not convinced the Japanese, the U.S. was going to have to deal with a bit of egg on their face... They had already wasted 2/3rds of the total nuclear arsenal... Luckily the Japanese were gambling that a full 100% of the U.S. nuclear arsenal was used to bomb Hiroshima, so when the arsenel turned out to be at least twice as big as their estimates, they figured better not find out it was thrice as big.

I say this because the largest Nuclear Weapon ever made was the Tsar Bomba, which had a yeild of 50 Megatons of TNT and is to date the largest manmade explosion ever to occur on Earth... however... the Tsar Bomba was never a feasible war weapon... it was way to big to fit on a a plane suited for combat conditions... they had to remove the bomb bay doors and lower the yield just to test the thing. Now there are no theoretical upper limits to a bomb's yeild in an ideal setting, but the Atmoshere will cap that limit hard because as soon as it breaks into Leo, the yield becomes useless... and delivery vehicle which has to carry the thing. Now, you solved the delivery problem with the space based launch platform except you didn't... Getting a massive bomb into space like the Tsar Bomba is gonna cost a pretty penny. NASA says that for every pound of payload, it costs 10,000 dollars to launch. The Tsar Bomba is a 60,000 lbs. For 1 satellite's compliment of Tsar Bomba nuclear bombs, your paying 7.2 BILLION! Not for the whole satellite... not for the bombs on the satellite... just to put the bombs that you completed with more disposable cash you have lying around... this is just to get 12 bombs off of earth and into space.

You can't just move that amount of money around and not get noticed. Banks start to give you funny looks if you're moving sums of 10,000 dollars regularly. And even then, and forgive me, I'm no climate change expert, but I'm pretty sure there are easier green energy solutions that could be invested in than a hostage crisis of 7 billion people. I mean... most green advocates don't see nuclear power as a solution anyway.

So many Nukes... Pointing at you

Okay, so one of the things people don't get is that Nuclear arsenals aren't built to be offensive weapons... but defensive weapons... against other Nukes... It's at this point that you're head starts going around in circles... it's okay... it's all part of being M.A.D.

Of all the nations of the world, the United States is the only nation that had anything remotely resembling a First Strike Policy... considering that the U.S.S.R. lost the most troops of any nation in World War II and they were still able to beat back the Nazis all the way to Berlin in an utter curbstomp of a battle, the United States did plan for limited tactical strikes against reserve troops during a possible conventional war with the U.S.S.R., but even then, they would rather launch Nukes after Russia Launched them... insinuating the U.S. might be the one to escalate a fictional war to nuclear war was enough to lose Pentagon assistence for a movie. The Day After, which was critical of a nuclear war, famously lost it's backing because they were dedicated to the point that after the Nukes are let loose, it really doesn't matter which side fired first, because surviving a nuclear war was less preferable than dying in one.

Any way, almost every country built their weapons to stop another nation they didn't like bullying them with their own. The U.S. built them to avert an invasion of mainland Japan, a military action that had such a high causualty list, that even today the U.S. has yet to exhaust the Purple Hearts (Awarded for Injury in the line of duty) ordered up in preparation for the invasion. The U.S.S.R. built them beacause the country that had them had already bombed a country into submission with merely two and was not a fan of Communism at all, prompting the U.K. and China to develop theirs and the French built theirs because they'd be damned before the rellied on the British, U.S. and U.S.S.R. to save them from the other two. Meanwhile, India was getting nervous about sitting on the border with a historical enemy with nukes and felt it was gonna get caught in the crossfire of the U.S. and U.S.S.R. if they actually decided to start trouble, which Prompted Pakistan who didn't care much for a historical enemy on their border being a nuclear power. Isreal never built the bomb to defend against every single one of its neighbors, no sirry Bob (Officialy, Isreal does not comment on whether or not they are a nuclear power, but as secret keeping goes, their status as a nuclear power ranks somewhere between "Who is Luke's Father" and "Gee, I wonder who Superman really is.") and they probably didn't develop them with South Africa, who's apartheid policies made them hated by pretty much everyone all at once. All to ensure M.A.D. doctrine was enforced... which is basically two nations agreeing, "if I'm going down, I'm taking you with me."

So you have First Strike, which in an all out scenario, will target just about every nuke that they know about in the hopes of stopping the Second Strike. At the height of the cold war, U.S. military planners estimated that in the event of a Nuclear war with Russia, the person who makes the First Strike would destroy 97% of enemy's total nuclear arsenel... So both sides built enough nukes to assume that only 3% could destroy all of their enemy on a Second Strike Nuke... the goal of the Second Strike is to launch everything so that the 3% could get through with enough force to count as all out nuclear war. The Second Strike is so critical to Nuclear nations that when Ronald Reagan announced the Star Wars Program, the Soviets panicked because if it was true, it would take away their Second Strike (The Soviet's First Strike capabilities were greatly embellished... they adopted a Second Strike only policy because they could cover for the fact that their rocket fuel was too corrosive to the rockets to keep in the fuel tanks... fueling took the better part of a day... where as the U.S. missiles lacked this problem, and if they saw the fueling occuring en mass, could launch an unopposed first strike.)

In your proposal, you're basically declaring intent to launch a First Strike, which will prompt second strikes from anyone who takes your threat seriously... which means they'll probably launch which... well... leads us to your next design failure.

It Came from 20,000 Leagues under the Sea.

Like I said, most nuclear capable countries... especially the ones with extended programs, probably have more nukes than you... and they also have Submarine launch platforms which pretty much enshrined the survival of second strike nukes as they could move and were stealthy. And most missile delevery systems are... well... remember the Space Race and all those rockets we sent up? The Mercury-Redstone, The Mercury-Atlas, The Gemini-Atlas? Well, the Saturn V, which was attached to the Apollo Missions, was the first Rocket purpose built for a NASA space mission... the ones that carried the Mercury and Gemini capsules were pretty much our missiles with the warheads taken out and a capsule for a human to sit in put on in the warhead's place. The same rockets that Americans dreamed would take us to space, were the subject of our Nightmares when they were pointed at Cuba. Space capable missile warfare has been a thing for a long time. And not only does the military have more misiles than you do... But you told the world where I can find your arsenal. As discussed by another answer, I'm not sweating bullets about disarming your nukes... because nuclear bombs are easy to disarm... I can just shot the thing and trigger an exploion of one of the bombs that is mistimmed, I basically stop the bomb from being affective... If I launch some of my own nukes at your satellignt and detonate when its close enough... after all, close only counts in Horseshoes and Hand Gernades... and Global Thermal Nuclear Warfare. Even if we allow for the idea that nuking your station is going to detonate all the remaing nukes, it's still more likely to occure away from earth where the damage is minimal.

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Space Junk

One thought I had was 'space junk'. That is, a fleck of paint floating around the earth at 10,000 mph is enough to cause significant damage to a satellite, space station etc. A bag of bolts, or maybe the remnants of an old satellite would be more than enough to destroy your (massive!) satellites (or at least put them beyond use).

Without launching anything new, $worldpolice arrange a couple of manoeuvrable satellites get into the same orbits as your satellites, but perhaps do so in the opposite direction as yours. With some careful flying skills, the first in a 'string' of yours is destroyed. The (now much enlarged) debris field from that one flies on at 10,000mph towards the next, and the next. Repeat this for each 'ring' of satellites you own. Given you have so many satellites, they must be relatively close together, thus ensuring we can destroy a large proportion in a small amount of time.

I'm not sure we've ever witnessed this occurring, but it's been theorised (and dramatised in the film 'Gravity'). Given you don't launch a nuke instantaneously, it's highly possible that all of your satellites could be destroyed within the 'few minutes' timeout of the communication network + firing time of the missiles. You may be lucky enough to get a few to launch,, but as others say, many nations have defences against such things (of variable effectiveness). You may destroy a few areas, but you're unlikely to get them all - and most importantly of all, your 'war apparatus' is entirely dismantled and your plan has failed. You have no bargaining position left, and as such can be captured and executed, probably relatively easily as you'll have very few friends left on the ground.

I'd also point out that your operatives on the ground that can trigger a launch but not stop it are going to have to be very carefully motivated. Apparently it's not impossible (given events of the last few years), but you're just an evil empire, and not offering eternal life to martyrs, so your ability to motivate may be limited.

If watching James Bond films has taught me anything, it's that if you want to 'rule the world', you need to do it quietly and insidiously over a long period. Since you have your large and successful Evil Corp, maybe focus on diversifying into espionage and intelligence gathering. Use that information to bribe or influence every monarch, politician, powerful business leader, community leader and even parents of large families to do things your way. Be unseen, yet be everywhere and you'll achieve far more than the 'grand gesture' you're proposing.

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Nope.

For 12 missiles each in 1024 satellites, 12,288 warheads.

Assuming a similar size to the Tsar Bomba, that means each satellite is carrying 12 warheads of 27 tonnes, or 288 tonnes in just warheads. The heaviest communication satellite masses 7 tonnes. You're talking platforms that mass over half the mass of the ISS each, each more than twice the mass a Saturn V could lift into LEO, and there is utterly no way to diguise that when they're in orbit because basic physics will reveal that quickly. People are going to wonder what the hell you are putting up there when you launch the first one.

Note, even if you instead use the design of the American B41, the most efficient in terms of megatonnage per weapon mass, it doesn't help much. You might be able to lift a satellite in one go, but you're still talking something at the very upper limits of the heavy lift. People wondering what's so heavy will still be a problem.

But wait, there's more!

It takes around 15 kilos of enriched uranium or 4 kilos of plutonium to make an primary, which is the minimum needed to start your bigger bomb. The secondary (and possibly tertiary stage), requires at least similar masses or uranium and plutonium (assuming it's a Tellar-Ulam design), so triple that to 45 kilos of enriched uranium and 12 kilos of plutonium. That's 147 tonnes of plutonium necessary.

It took the United States 50 years (1944-1994) to get 111 tonnes. Note this includes the entirety of the Cold War when the US was producing and exploding warheads like firecrackers. And your guy produces 30% more than that, completely below the radar?

So...yeah. If your Evil Overlord has managed to pull this off, the planet is clearly inhabited by such a totally incompetent collection of brain-dead morons, he might as well nuke them and put people out of their misery.

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protected by L.Dutch May 8 at 18:23

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