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We all know and presumably love enormous space battles with vast battleships doing minimal damage to each other for hours before being blown up by a single fighter.

On Earth battleships became big white elephants with high cost and minimal use, vulnerable to every submarine, aircraft carrier, and missile boat in the sea. The era of battleships on Earth is over.

However in space, there's no stealth, so no submarines. "Range" has an entirely different meaning. A simple slug or contact explosive shell has "unlimited" range, where a fighter still has a strictly limited flight time. The concept of "over the horizon" is totally non-existent.

So in the great trade off between drone carriers, missile boats, and battleships:

Was the era of space battleships over before it even began?

Or can they still be justified in light of the limitations on the factors that made them redundant on Earth.

Assume no great deviation from current understanding of physics apart from a high volume black box non-reaction handwavium drive to power the whole thing. Defined as too big to put it in a fighter, and not directly usable as a weapon itself. I'll also permit artificial gravity to reduce the distractions from the core problem.

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    $\begingroup$ Big ships are very powerful and have great endurance. Small ships are cheaper and one can make many more of them to cover more space. There is a trade-off. Where the balance will sit depends on the specific conditions, and mostly depends on the story you want to tell. But in the unfortunate eventuality that space fleets will be needed, there will certainly be big powerful long range very expensive ships and small cheap ships. As today we have both conventional diesel electric submarines and humongous nuclear submarines. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Aug 21 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexP, it's not just size, carriers are bigger than battleships were, it's also about leveraging that investment into effective firepower. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 21 at 9:27
  • $\begingroup$ Interestingly, I don't think the use of specific spacecraft would depend on its capabilities. There is an enormous logistical overhead for introducing new models of vehicles for exploitation. You could have some widely used spacecraft stay in use despite there being a newer and better model simply because you need to have all the production pipeline to adapt, all training programmes to be changed, any current crew to possibly be re-trained, and current crafts have to be recalled. We have a precedent for this with tanks, for example - some models were better left rather than replaced. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Aug 21 at 10:43
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    $\begingroup$ Just a minor point but "However in space, there's no stealth" doesn't seem really true to me. Space is HUGE and anything can come from any direction. You can look everywhere but things can just do their best to blend in with the background. $\endgroup$ – Marie Aug 21 at 17:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Marie Blending in with the background is actually very hard. One of the primary engineering challenges of spacecraft design even today is radiating waste heat so your crew doesn't cook. People talk about space being cold, but vacuum doesn't conduct heat away like cold air does, so spacecraft are always VERY hot by comparison to the background, which makes them easy to spot if you've got good telescopes and a good computer to filter out everything that's a known heat source (e.g. stars etc). $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 21 at 18:17

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high volume black box non-reaction handwavium drive to power the whole thing.

You actually solve your own problem right here.

The biggest reason that a space battleship makes no sense under current or proposed technological limitations is because of the demands of reaction drives. More Mass to move = more reaction mass to move it. It's a tyrannical equation that, as long as it is the primary constraint to propulsion in space, will ensure that the MOST critical design element of any spacecraft is making it as light as possible. This means no armor, which means no space battleship.

However.

If you have a reactionless drive, that changes everything. Now more mass = more POWER to move it, and that doesn't necessarily add mass. Modern Aircraft Carriers benefit from being SO huge and expensive already just to do what they need to do, that adding a nuclear reactor to run the whole thing becomes not only feasible, but very beneficial from a cost/benefit perspective.

Your Handwavium powered spacecraft would have the same benefit. The larger your ship is, the more it can benefit from economies of scale. You can afford to put a lot more mass into your environmental recycling so your ship can go further and stay out longer. You can grow your own food onboard. You can completely protect your crew from the hazards of radiation. You can actually afford to put a thick, tough shell around the outside of your ship to protect it from environmental hazards like micrometeorites as well as smaller kinetic impact weapons, and you can afford to put a LOT of point defense on it to stop bigger stuff.

And, in true battleship style, the bigger your ship is, the bigger your gun can be. A Mass Driver is a pretty optimal weapon for engaging anything that can't move under its own power, and for many things that can as long as you can throw a big enough projectile fast enough.

Battleship on Battleship combat under these conditions would be a dance of who can get a better target solution on who sooner, and start putting Significant Holes in the other ship. I don't really think it's feasible to design armor that can STOP projectiles with the kind of energy that mass drivers are capable of, so instead you want to design your ships such that high velocity kinetic rounds go right through and deposit as little energy as possible on their way. This means elaborate compartmentalization and redundancy to ensure that your ship can retain as much combat effectiveness as possible even after it's had a bunch of holes poked in it.

The Expanse does a pretty good job with this, actually.

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  • $\begingroup$ I accept your argument for long range vessels where resources and supply chain are important, but I'm not convinced when it comes to fleet engagements. Either a carrier or a missile boat will get a better target lock faster, which you've said is a critical factor, and will be able to deploy weapons more effectively than a ship dependent on a small number of large guns for the bulk of its damage output. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 21 at 14:33
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not sure why either of those things would be true. What kind of ship it is has nothing to do with getting target lock. Most importantly, a mass driver projectile is going to be able to cover the distance between two ships MUCH more quickly than a fighter or a missile, and is much more difficult to intercept with point defenses once it shows up. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 21 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Traditionally when you go for a really big gun on a space ship you have to aim the whole ship, whereas a missile or fighters can be launched as soon as you know there's an enemy in your space even if you don't yet know where it is. There are of course practical limits on all these things. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Aug 21 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ There's no reason you'd need to go with a spinal-mounted mass driver for ship-to-ship combat. You can turret those guys just like Space Battleship Yamato. Save your fixed-axis Wave Motion Gun for planetary bombardments or space installations that can't move. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 21 at 15:05
  • $\begingroup$ If you're firing at targets far enough away (as is the case in realistic space warfare) then the time it takes to aim your weaponry should be negligible, thus turning the whole ship should not be a major issue. The only concern would be exposed profile, but aiming at your target probably exposes the optimal profile anyway. $\endgroup$ – Muuski Aug 21 at 22:51
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There are many parameters to take into consideration.

Some historical evolution

To make it really simple, the de facto standards of naval battles of the 18th and 19th Century died out because weapons became far too effective and the costs of such large-scaled battle was too huge. The WWI's Battle of Jutland is often considered the last of its kind.

A jump in time to WWII which saw somewhat the end of the large battle ships (Bismarck). The reason was again that even with large costs, the defense were not effective enough against new and/or specialised weapons (submarines, planes, torpedos, etc.).

Fleets nowadays consists in smaller specialised ships (e.g. anti-mines) and tactical ships (submarines, aircraft carriers). And seldom considering an actual sea battle. Supporting weapons (planes/missiles) would actually finish it before it even begins.

Defending your space ships

We see that the issue with seafaring ships and battles is the effectiveness (what they do in comparison for their price) is too low due to other types of weapons/ships. Simply put, they are not resistant enough.

To get space battles à la Star Wars, you'll need to make sure you equip your ships with solid defenses. So they should be able to get a missile or a laser without blowing up immediately. Back in the 18th Century, a ship often needed several hits to be out. And even that often meant that the ship was not sunk. Currently a torpedo, a mine or a missile could well bring the whole ship down.

How do you defend effectively? Well that's an interesting question.

  • Heavy armours aren't a practical solution, because we see already on Earth ships that they have limitation. And for the space faring, weight is a very important issue.
  • Most Sci-Fi tropes using some kind of defending force fields. You need that. But something that can block missile, lasers, and just the small piece of junk sent to you is going to be very challenging. Especially if you don't want to be moved around off your course!

Space fleets

Seeing the current situation on Earth and extrapolating, it is likely that you would have specialised fighting ships (thanks to your handwavium) (X-Wings/Tie) and then ships carriers. Those would be surrounded by a fleet of cheaper and first line defense ships. You should not let any attacker get close to your carrier.

But then, considering the price of such a fleet and material requirement, your handwavium should allow us to go mine the other star systems ;-)

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Here on earth, battleships were built when guns became so big and their range so long that a smaller ship could not carry such weapons, let alone use them. Their era ended when their opponents could counter the threat of the big guns on the big ship, and when much smaller platforms, like submarines and aircraft, could pack enough punch to threaten the big ships.

Apart from being a platform for very large weapons, a battleship is also a small city, providing all kinds of living facility for a large crew. That means that a battleship can go on much longer missions than a torpedo boat or similar.

Combined, the large weaponry and the ability to stay in the target zone for extended periods enables a battleship to besiege a target, like a port or similar.

What does that mean for sour setup? For a start, space is big, so space travel takes time, which in turn means you need living space and facilities to keep your crew alive and reasonably happy. We already saw that a battleship can provide for those needs. The big guns should be a no-brainer: just install whatever the arsenal of your mind can think up, especially when your weapons of choice are suitable for laying waste to ships and installations alike.

Now to the downsides. A big ship is a big target. It typically lacks agility, and thus the ability to dodge attacks. So you need armor that can take a few hits. You will possibly want a lot of defensive weapon systems to counter attacks by fighters and missiles, and you might want to hybridize your battleship with a carrier so you can bring a few fighters yourself.

Still, your battleship will be a specialized weapon platform, and while being able to lay waste to a lot of infrastructure, and being able to take some beating, they won't be invincible, and there will be military vessels of much smaller size for other roles.

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    $\begingroup$ "It typically lacks agility, and thus the ability to dodge attacks." Perhaps not as large of an issue as you'd think: modern warships, no matter how fast and maneuverable, still aren't fast and agile enough to dodge modern weapons. $\endgroup$ – Keith Morrison Aug 21 at 16:28
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Well, since space battleships are not for actual space battles between fleets (fighters & destroyers and the other tin-crap are cheaper and better suited for this stuff), but for laying siege to planets/solar systems and for carrying all the important stuff for either capturing the planets - or simply laying waste to their surface - the era of space battleships is definitely not over.

Really, how should one of these tiny destroyers lay waste to a space-port? Or even destroy the Earth's defensive system of orbital stations? Can't do - but that's what battleships are for. Also, they make impressive command vessels.

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Space battleship has one great battle advantage: big mass. It allows:

  • use of more powerful guns - recoil is not that hard on structure, crew and course (they can even use ballast just to increase mass for that)
  • can sustain much more damage - it is no water to sink in. That means that a slug which evaporates fighter or cuts in half corvette would not destroy battleship. And even if battleship falls apart, some of this parts still would be able to fight (shoot at least)
  • huge inner volume for resources (longer range), ammo (can "oversit" smaller ship in barrage), some lesser crafts (universality)

This are great advantages, so battleship has its future (if fuel problem would be solved).

On Earth battleships became obsolete because they sink too ease. If not, they still would be the most powerful ships. There is even an idea of battleship with lots of anti-weapon systems (laser and not + powerful computer) which would make it invulnerable against rockets, bombs and high-ark shells of any kind (at least for some time). Those monsters would destroy carriers with there support ships at ease.

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One major design consideration for realistic space warships is the square-cube law. Every time you double the length of the ship, you increase its surface area by a factor of four, and its volume by a factor of eight. This has both advantages and disadvantages.

The most obvious benefit is that you could have armor that's twice as thick as the armor used by a smaller ship, but which takes up the same proportion of the larger ship's total mass. However, the major disadvantage I see is that you have less surface area, proportionally, with which to radiate waste heat. If the limiting factor of your warship design is disposal of waste heat (which, realistically, it probably is), then a ship with twice the length will only be able to afford to run reactors and engines which are four times more powerful than the smaller ship, despite being up to eight times the mass. This would make a ship with twice the length able to sustain only half the acceleration of the smaller ship. So from that standpoint, space battleships really would be better armored and slower than space corvettes.

Of course, this assumes the larger ship has the same shape as the smaller one, which it may not have. You can stretch the shape of the ship so that the larger ship ultimately has the same ratio of volume / surface area, or simply leave a greater proportion of the larger ship's volume empty (which I'm sure the crew would appreciate). This would abandon the pros and cons offered by the square / cube law; which I'm not sure would be the best idea, since a larger ship makes for a bigger target, and you've just given up your armor advantage.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this comment a lot. Many people do not recognize the severity of head dissipation and the square cube law. One thing i would add that the need to dissipate heat would mostly depend on the type and efficiency of the / a reactor. By using a smaller reactor and possibly say kinetic instead of "beam" weapons, a vessel would have to dissipate less heat. For example, outfit a battleship with only missile batteries instead of lasers and it would require far less reactor %. $\endgroup$ – user431806 Aug 22 at 13:39
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Considering "battleship" as "large armored weapons platform" then in a space war scenario there would be a sensible use for them: in orbit.

Battleships would be placed in orbit and stay there. They would offer a commanding position for attacking planet-bound structures. Really though, the battleships would defend against incoming rocks.

For a civilization capable of space flight, the best way of attacking a planet is to use its gravity well against it and throw things at it from a great distance. To counter these rocks you have to see them coming and you need to deflect them, before they enter your atmosphere. If you are above your atmosphere your vision is clearer and you can see them farther away. Your defensive fire will not be slowed by your own atmosphere. The bulk of your ship means recoil from your energetic defensive fire will not substantially move you out of your orbit.

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So in the great trade off between drone carriers, missile boats, and battleships:

Was the era of space battleships over before it even began?

Like written here it depends on your technology level, on your power generation and the propulsion technology.

If you don't have a reaction less drive there is no use of big ships like a battleship. You want to stay small so you need less fuel on board for moving the ship. Heck you don't even want humans on board because the need a huge and heavy infrastructure on board to survive and the longer the deployment the more weight you need (food, water or aquaponic areas or recycling stations).

So with a current level without reaction less drives there is also the constrain of the detection range. In naval warfare this is also a factor what is a laser defense system of use if I can detect the shell? Or if I detect it to late? This applies also to space. What use of a mass drive that can hit spot on on a distance of 10 light minutes? If it cannot detect a ship that is 1 light second away?

So these two points lead us to space battles with drones, where the command center is on a different astral body and gives general commands to the drones, like destroy that ship. For drones it is then interesting to have drone carriers, so these would be bigger, but still more like a skeleton where lot of drones can dock, like in Enders Game. But these carriers would stay behind the actual front to save them from harm. Now also a few command ships would be useful that support humans. Thes would also stay behind and just give commands. Should the battle be lost these ships have a huge interest to disappear quickly. For that it needs to be light not a lot of mass, let me just say E=mc². And then small so detection is harder. Look at the problems that are currently exiting to detect small drones at airports.

All in all I would say drone carrier would exist also command ships, but no large ones with big weapons like battleships, also manned missile boats are unlikly. If you know Stellaris you can have a look on the tech tree bigger ships are only unlocked with the next tier reactor or better propulsion tech.

So it depends on your tech level if it is higher the bigger ships get practical like the others explained.

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Besides carrying big guns I think size isn’t everything even space. Reason:

  1. Small ships are build faster and don’t need an extensive crew if any at all
  2. Small ships will be better maneuverable and cost less energy to do so
  3. Even a small delivery system can potentially carry a devastating payload. It doesn’t necessarily require big guns but smart ammunition delivering enough energy to destroy the target.
  4. The destruction of one big ship is easier done than many you could have build from it as it might need just one hit.
  5. Engagement ranges are very large and detection ahead of time will be difficult. Even more with smaller vehicles, due to smaller radiative cross section. Using active means like radar on large distances I’d imagine to be physically impossible. A small vehicle could therefore sneak up closer than a big one and detect you earlier. Deliver faster and reduce reaction time.

That said there are reasons why big ships could be useful. But if it is about delivery I don’t think that those would perform to well at the frontlines.

So what you are looking for is most likely some sort of good mix of weapon systems and special purpose roles in your fleet.

  1. Carrier
  2. Logistic
  3. Recon (could be drones but the communication might give you away so they have to be autonomous)
  4. Destroyers
  5. Something between recon and destroyers
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  • $\begingroup$ Now we use radars to measure distances to planets and asteroids. They are FAR away. Radar is a good thing for space battleships and can reach far. Thermoemission detection works even better. It is very hard to hide in space. $\endgroup$ – ksbes Aug 21 at 11:40
  • $\begingroup$ The radar signal decreases with inverse square of the distance. This means your returning pulse will greatly diminish with range and size. Planets and some asteroids are pretty big...ok I give you that. But how big does and object has to be to reflect enough so that it doesn’t go under in your signal? On top you might have some absorbent or diffusing material ...so it will be though. $\endgroup$ – World Peace Aug 21 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ Thermoemission is indeed a a problem. But I don’t think it’s impossible to hide that if you want to. You will have to find a way to store the heat and release it at later times. Proper insulation and acceleration at have to need basis will make you still hard to spot. $\endgroup$ – World Peace Aug 21 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ The point is that background of space object is effectevly nothing. It is not hard to detect even the lowest amounts of reflected signal. Planets and astroids are large but they are hunders of million kilometers away. It means if we can radar Mars, we can radar tennis ball from 2000 km. And termoemission: you also need to cool surface of your ship to -270C (and have thermosink up to thousands of degrees inside). Good luck with that! $\endgroup$ – ksbes Aug 21 at 12:04
  • $\begingroup$ 1) Ok sure enough the thermal radiation is still there ..but how will you make the difference between an stone and a space ship with just the signal ? 2) Mars is comparable big to a tennis ball. The cross section is what you get back and the cross section goes with r^2.... so we speak about quite a different signal strength. If you can detect let’s say objects with r=50m at 2000km that’s great but not enough for your space ship... $\endgroup$ – World Peace Aug 21 at 12:23
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The Scale of Space makes battleships - or any warship - infeasible and unnecessary.

Space is really big - no matter how big you think it is, it is way bigger.

To traverse the vast distances involved you need to accelerate to unfathomable speeds, and stay at these speeds for unfathomable amounts of time. Even if you have an amazing ability to thrust with your drive, it does not reduce the incredible speeds that need to be attained to traverse such large distances.

A spaceship with guns on it makes no sense. A gun makes no sense. Firing a gun from a turret would be firing a small pellet only a little bit faster than your ship, which is already travelling at likely hundreds (if not thousands) of kilometres per second anyway.

At such astronomical speeds, collisions are more like high energy impacts with no defense. Materials at these speeds interact as if they were gases, they do not behave in collisions as solids - there is no 'armor'.

Even in LEO (low earth orbit), these make no sense, as interactions would be just the same. Not to mention interplanetary or interstellar distances, where distances are simply too large for any meaningful defense. A small asteroid or even a small ball, accelerated constantly over time, accumulates so much kinetic energy if it encounters a planet it could devastate it.

Therefore, I can see little tactical or strategic advantage to a ship with guns. Just accelerate small masses to great speeds.

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  • $\begingroup$ This answer makes a lot of assumptions that I don't think are warranted, or supported. $\endgroup$ – Morris The Cat Aug 21 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ "Accelerate small masses to great speeds" But to do that you would need a machine to cause that acceleration....what are those called again? Guns! That's right. Now those guns, they might need to move around the system to hold locations of strategic importance, it would be convenient if those guns were mounted on something that moves....what shall we call that thing that moves guns around I wonder? $\endgroup$ – Muuski Aug 21 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Even if hypervelocity impacts mean that armor can't survive more than a single hit, it can still protect the ship underneath it by absorbing the impact. The armor is ablative rather than deflective. In order to get your small ball up to great speeds, you need to attach an engine to it, which effectively makes it a missile, and missiles can be detected and intercepted. Also, with modern technology, a 300 meter long railgun would be able to get a 20kg projectile up to about 12 km/s. The question isn't the speeds the ships are already at, but if they can change speeds fast enough to evade. $\endgroup$ – FlyingLemmingSoup Aug 21 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ The salient point of this answer is realistic space travel. Requiring 'space battles' requires equally advanced species (very unlikely) in close enough proximity (extremely unlikely) and a resource or something to fight over (something so valuable it requires traveling for decades or centuries to retrieve.) From that perspective the basis of the question is ludicrous. However, since this is worldbuilding one can easily construct such a universe rendering all of those points moot - and still maintain the same underlying physics as this universe. $\endgroup$ – Tracy Cramer Aug 21 at 19:54
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Battleships in space may be more viable than on Earth.

In space range is more or less infinite, this means that the winner of a fight is likely the person who detects the enemy first and completes their targeting calculations first. Having a larger ship could mean more sophisticated equipment for handling these operations.

There is nothing to counter inertia in space, this means unlike here on Earth where you can count on the air or the water to reduce act against your inertia, in space if you wanted to adjust your course to make a left turn you would have to reverse thrust to slow down your forward momentum, apply thrust the right to change course and then apply thrust to adjust your rotational facing. This is a prohibitive amount of fuel to be using, simply put evasive abilities would not be possible.

This all works in your favor, if you can detect an enemy ship and target them first, they won't be able to evade and all you need now is a powerful enough weapon to destroy them.

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  • $\begingroup$ You don't need to slow down before making evasive maneuvers, or change the orientation of the ship either (unless, for some reason I can't fathom, the ship only has thrusters/drive for rotation and forward/reverse movements, not lateral movements). Instead, you only have to get the ship moving along the X and or Y axis (if the incoming projectile's path is considered to be the Z axis) enough to move it off the Z axis before the projectile arrives, regardless of any other ship motion in any direction. Should be possible with a (relatively) small thrust in any X or Y axis direction. $\endgroup$ – Dalila Aug 27 at 17:31
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It is predominantly a question of engine and weapon energy efficiency. Intense maneuvering would be out of the question for such a large ship. Its primary offense would be to launch projectiles that are fast enough and accurate enough to be difficult or impossible to dodge and that deliver sufficient energy to disable a target, and its primary defense would be to intercept, deflect or diffuse/defuse incoming projectiles, similar to the way a Phalanx gun works in naval combat by shooting down missiles (at close range in this case for maximal accuracy). As soon as its energy or projectile reserves are depleted, it's a sitting duck.

A moon base would probably actually be the ideal deployment scenario for such a ship, since stationary nuclear reactors fueled by mines, vast arrays of solar panels and geothermal energy could provide the energy to power the offensive/defensive weapons and would not require recoil compensation while in a planetary environment. A smaller moon with a landing pad, or possibly a geostationary tether would be ideal so as to limit the amount of energy required to take off and land or dock with the planet/moon. The greatest difficulties might be the storage of energy and the expense of takeoff/landing and of changing course. Nonetheless, given sufficient energy reserves for the tremendous length of a space voyage, it would make a formidable offensive weapon against ships. Subjugation of a sufficiently well-supplied and technologically advanced planet would at all points prove difficult, however, due to the resource and economy imbalance, and is not advised.

It would need to dock with or be in close proximity to an energy source regulalry to keep its armaments at full power, so its primary utility would probably be far more defensive than offensive. Being able to store, generate or harvest enough energy in the far reaches of space to make it an efficient offensive weapon is the primary bottleneck which is why super-energy reservoirs such as the "Tesseract" of Marvel fame are the stuff of science fiction.

So I think it's primarily answered by what size of ship or technology configuration would give you maximal energy efficiency.

Naval Phalanx gun

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See the Honor Harrington series by Weber. He actually goes through a several generation series of offence and defence weapons.

Miltary grade ships have accelerations of 400 to 700 Gs with smaller ships being more capable. Missiles have accelerations of 10-50 times that, but their 'impellers' burn out. But 3 minutes acceleration at 20,000Gs covers major distance.

It's almost impossible to actually hit a ship. Most missiles carry a nuclear pumped x-ray laser that does the damage.

In the initial novels, ships have missile tubes -- much like torpedo tubes on a sub. Volley of fire was fairly slow: A ship with 20 tubes could launch 20 missiles per salvo, with about a minute between. Innovative tactics was to launch the first flights with lower acceleration so they would all arrive on target together.

Counter missiles were the response, plus point defence energy weapons.

Later large ships would carry extra missiles attached to the surface of their ship. These could be nudged off, then started when they were clear. Had to be used quickly, as they were subject to damage from near misses.

The tech war is one of control -- how to guide thousands of missiles in a battle, (they are light minutes from the ship that launched them...) how to jam, how to keep from jamming, and counters -- burn through jamming, better point defence.

A ship could 'go dark' Turn off it's impeller (which also was it's defence screen) reduce IR signature, and be very very hard to find. (Consider trying to find a 1/4 km diameter rock at the distance of Saturn, if it's painted black.)

In Weber's books, battle is mostly maneuver sometimes for days, and the battle phase may be only 2-3 volleys of missiles some minutes apart. Battle at this scale, requires that you have a spread sheet with the speed, distance,time arrangements for an accelerating body. (The accelerations are so large, gravity can be ignored)

Weber doesn't really address the commerce raider -- light cruiser ships designed to interdict merchant vessels, with the attendant response of convoys. Nor does he address stealthed ships much.

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