Had this idea for a rapid space fighter deployment system and wanted to see if anybody sees a flaw I'm not.

Imagine a big circle in space, and inside that circle are 'stacks' of space fighters facing the outside of the circle. Of course they wouldn't be perfectly stacked as it's a circle, and would be arranged more like the dots on this shower drain. The sides of this circle are closed with armor and have the fighter racks mounted on them. The circumference of the circle have segmented doors on them that slide open similar to the hangar doors on Venator cruisers. Larger circles can have two 'stacks' of fighters next to each other, or even more but the width of the circle increases with the stacks, and radius increases with the size of the stacks.

Movement is accomplished by two large engines on either side of the ring facing forward. These can be rotated 360* if needed.

For deployment, the circle inside begins spinning to generate artificial gravity. Once the desired door segments are opened, the fighters are released and they 'fall' out towards the battle. The outside door segements have rockets mounted opposite of the direction the circle is spinning to keep the door alignment from shifting and sending fighters the wrong way.

For rapid deployment, all doors are opened and the circle is oriented so that the side is facing the battle. This makes it a large target to hit, but all fighters can be launched very quickly. Safer yet slower deployment opens one 'side' of the circle(maybe a sixth of all door segements) facing the battle and launches fighters from the opening. This makes the target area a thin rectangle rather than a large circle, but deployment takes longer.

If technology permits, a single segment can open and a warp gate(or other instantaneous long distance travel device) can be placed in front where the fighters exit. Now the target area is much smaller and the fighters are deployed across much longer distances. Deployment rings built for this would probably have a spiral interior rather than a stacked interior to simplify the deployment(Stacked rings need to time the fighter release else they crash into each other at the opening, smaller opening needs more precise timing).

Question: Is this feasible, or am I missing something big that needs to be addressed?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It's not infeasible but why would anyone bother? The fighter's engines are far more powerful than any possible momentum imparted by the spinning. Plus, if one only wants to launch a single squadron, the spinning has to be stopped so the next squadron's pilots can enter the fighter without flying away. Moreover, how would the fighters be boarded and re-armed/repaired in such a dense arrangement? How would they be landed and re-inserted into the launch arrangement? $\endgroup$ Apr 1 at 14:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Moreover, the momentum of the spinning disk is immense. This interferes with ship maneuvering (gyroscopic effect) and costs a lot of energy to spin up. And if the ship takes a significant hit, causing the disk to sieze up or impact the rest of the ship, well, blam, no more carrier. $\endgroup$ Apr 1 at 14:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GrumpyYoungMan those comments seem like they're worth an answer! $\endgroup$ Apr 1 at 17:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Why have the fighters INSIDE the carrier? Attach then to the outside, and just release the grapples. No 'doors' necessary. The pilots enter through a tube connecting them to the ship. It's not as if there is any weather in space that the fighters have to be protected from. The only thing that needs to spin is the ring around the outside, holding the fighters, not the entire flight deck. Stop thinking naval carriers, this is space. $\endgroup$ Apr 2 at 3:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And remember - the fighters launch at a tangent to the spin, not out from the center. If they are all launched from the same point around the circumference, as the ring spins around, they all come out in a straight line, one after the other, in a line formation nose to tail. $\endgroup$ Apr 5 at 1:04

If space fighters make sense, then so does this

Ok, so before everyone jumps in here and starts shouting about how space fighters don't make sense, I'm just going to assume that for some reason they do make sense and you want to have a bunch of snub fighters in space like a classic space opera.

Your launch mechanism should technically work, with one caveat:

Your ship is always spinning

It takes an incredible amount of energy to start a ship spinning from a dead stop, so your ship should always be spinning in order to make this work. Presuming your fighters have human pilots, they would live on a level "above" the stacks of ships and sit closer to the center of the disk (which would probably be a ring and not a disk).

They should climb down into their ships (which will experience a slightly increased amount of artificial gravity), and then the bay doors would open to drop them out as necessary.

Of note, this ring (or disk if you're really set on a disk) would have to be at minimum 200m in diameter (and possibly much larger) to prevent issues with seasickness in the crew from the constant rotation (estimates expect that a rotating ring providing artificial gravity would need to maintain below 1-3 RPMs).

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Recovering the fighters would suck, though. $\endgroup$
    – jdunlop
    Apr 1 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ Oh man, yeah... regardless of the size of the ring, your fighters would have to maintain a 1G burn at a weird angle to be able to sync up with the carrier and get pulled back in $\endgroup$
    – SirTain
    Apr 1 at 16:33
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Pfft, "like a classic space opera". Just say "like star wars"! There's a huge amount of stuf written in the genre, before and since, that didn't need to be WW1 in Spaaaace ;-) $\endgroup$ Apr 1 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ @jdunlop: If you had an access port at the center of your circle, then your fighter just has to spin on its foreward axis in order to line up. It can then get grabbed by machinery for servicing, as I doubt there'd be the required space inside to fly the fighter back into position. $\endgroup$
    – Kyyshak
    Apr 1 at 18:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @G0BLiN B5 may be classic these days, but the use of fighters would appear to be shameless pandering to the starwars-ww1 demographic ;-) They do get partial credit for having a sensible design for fighters to be used in space, even if the use of fighters is not at all sensible in the first place. $\endgroup$ Apr 1 at 21:14

This is how I picture your design:

enter image description here

I think this is plausible assuming the fighters and space ship holding them are. Two thoughts:

  • Keep the ships orientated this way and the pilot can climb in using artificial gravity when the disk is spinning.
    • You may want it to spin the entire ship normally for artificial gravity anyway.
  • Use the engines of the fighters on the outer circle to spin up the disk. (Why have another motor / engine? Just use your existing ones)
    • Open the outer door (lower level floor), and fire the engines. Artificial gravity will increase within the disk.
    • You'll notice I orientated the outer ring so the engines don't fire into the cockpit of the fighter behind.
  • The scaffolding to connect these fighters could get in the way.
    • Care need to be taken so that inner rings don't collide with what was holding the outer fighters.
    • The easiest way to do this is with explosive bolts that detonate outside-in. Unfortunately, this makes the whole process single use. The fighters can't rejoin the ring on landing.
    • If you have nice robotics tech & enough power, you'll be able to do some smart docking arms that can grab the fighter for landing, and release it for launching. This way they could rejoin the ring with some precise timing that an autopilot could easily manage.

Spinning up a station "just" to launch ships (fighters, crusers doesn't matter here) is very energy intensive and you have to slow down after.

It would be cheaper to just accelerate the lighter object. This means you could rapidly deploy fighters rather than taking the time to spin up a lot of mass just to throw out the fighters.

Keeping it spinning on the other hand is somewhat trivial and if part of the station is for human habitation then you get gravity for free but you will only be able to launch your fighters at about 1G of acceleration (else you would be crushing your humans on the rest of the station.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.