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The other day I wrote this post, asking about the possibility of an electricity based weapon. Sadly, no real feasible or possible weapon was available that could work in a vacuum with some actual effectiveness, so I've mostly dropped the idea. I'm still persistent though, looking for viable alternatives or lesser known weapons that differ from the typical lasers, torpedoes/missiles, and railguns that dominate more typical space warfare.

The reason behind this is simply that the same old weapons used over and over again can get boring and repetitive, with the exception of missiles. Lasers and railguns can just end up being so basic in what they have the capability to do, and limited flexibility. Essentially, what I'm looking for in this post is other weapons besides the typical lasers and railguns. They don't necessarily need to be flashy, or more effective, just weapons that can have some effect and not be ludicrously expensive or weak.

As I said in the post title, I have a few ideas already, specifically ETCs as a possible alternative to railguns, and macron accelerators due to them being a possible alternative to lasers. ETCs use typical gun propellants, except light things more equally and can achieve faster muzzle velocities. Macron accelerators, I'll be blunt in the fact that I don't really know how they work, but they're explained well here.

Some other ideas I had ranged from plasma weapon ideas like MARAUDER to possible missile/torpedo projectiles that use nuclear pulse propulsion to reach high speeds.

There are relatively little guidelines to alternative weapons, but the few there are are listed below:

  1. Must be capable of working in space. This is an obvious one.
  2. Must be efficient to an extent. This means that it can't cost trillions, and it can't use ludicrous amounts of materials. Power consumption isn't as much of an issue.
  3. Must have at least a minor amount of science basis. It doesn't need tons of hard science or realism, but it can't use tons of handwaving or magic materials.
  4. Assume that possible problems like recoil aren't as much of an issue.

I look forward to any responses! And feel free to give feedback on my post if needed so that I can revise it and make it better. To reiterate, I'm essentially looking for alternative weapons to spice up space warfare.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a good one, lol. U also can put a link or somethkng for ETC as well $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ I often use weaponized FTL tech. If you have some kind of subspace, hyperspace or the Warp you have access to semi-alternate dimensions. Firing a blob of dimensional energy, basically a pocket universe in local space, should be effective. This also allows you to play around with ranges (pocket universes might fade out quickly or you might need to infuse an object) and with the effects they have in your universe. "Shields" can then similarly be a thin pocket universe surrounding your ship, and only by throwing dimensions can you destabilize it and push through. $\endgroup$
    – Demigan
    Jun 9, 2021 at 8:20
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    $\begingroup$ The problem with plasma weapons is that plasma wants to spread out, which means hand-waving some sort of "containment field". Honorverse has "plasma torpedoes" which include a short-lived containment bottle. Very powerful, but the range is so short as to make them utterly impractical. I'm not sure if it would be plausible for these to be your only viable weapons... $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jun 9, 2021 at 12:37
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    $\begingroup$ how would you use exchange traded currencies and french presidents as weapons? $\endgroup$
    – ths
    Jun 9, 2021 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ I'm guessing by ETC, the querent is referring to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrothermal-chemical_technology based cannon. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2021 at 14:48

11 Answers 11

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MASERS

Beam weapons, very similar to lasers, except they use radio-frequency waves instead of light. The only real difference is that making the beam is done somewhat differently, and due to the different frequency of the beam, it has different characteristics. Notably, a Maser may be able to penetrate things like gas clouds or other thin material that are transparent to microwave frequencies.

NUCLEAR PASTA/MATTER COMPRESSION WARHEADS

It is theorized that an ultra-dense, degenerate form of matter can be found inside the core of neutron stars. This matter, called "Nuclear Pasta" likely has some extremely exotic properties if it could be artificially created and contained. Even without reaching these extreme densities, it is likely that advanced technology could squeeze more matter into less volume (matter is mostly empty after all). Doing so could result in some rather neat warheads, with the ability to outstrip the efficacy of even uncompressed nuclear- or antimatter- bombs.

PARTICLE ACCELERATORS

Essentially still a kinetic weapon, this type relies on accelerating particles to very high speeds (but still sub-c). How this is done and what type of matter is accelerated is up to the user. Ions or other charged particles would probably be the simplest, as their electric field makes it easy to push them around, but the ultimate version of this weapon would be to use anti-matter or anti-ions. This would be extremely dangerous, and only work in space since due to the vacuum.

NUCLEAR PUMPED LASER

You already mentioned lasers, but I think this specific design is unique enough to deserve a mention. Essentially, it's creating a powerful x-ray laser beam by detonating a nuclear weapon and focusing it by directing it through a long rod of metal. This was actually seriously considered and researched in Regan's "Star Wars" program, specifically "Project Excalibur". In this project, an orbital nuclear weapon would be surrounded by a shell of aimable rods, and when a soviet nuclear launch was detected, the device would detonate, generating up to 50 powerful x-ray laser pulses aimed at any warheads and missiles.

GREY GOO DISPENSERS

This is a rather slow and stealthy weapon, but self-replicating micro- or nano-scale machines could be fired at the enemy ship in a cloud. It wouldn't deal any immediate damage, but be very hard to dodge (due to the big cloud) and very difficult to block. Once the miniature machines latch on to the enemy ship's hull, they start eating it and replicating. If not dealt with, eventually this would cause hull breaches, and then failures in ship structural integrity.

EMP/RADIOLOGICAL WEAPONS

By constructing bombs that are essentially nuclear shaped explosives, you could direct a large burst of radiation conically at a target. This could be an interesting weapon, because depending on the wavelength of the radiation, you could achieve different effects. For example, you could tune the system so that it doses biological beings with lethal amounts of radiation but leaves the ship (mostly) intact, allowing salvage or easy recycling. Unfortunately though, ships are likely to have heavy shielding against radiation, as this is already one of the main hazards to biological beings in space.

BETTER MISSILE WARHEADS

You already mentioned missiles/torpedoes in your question, but I think there's still a lot of flexibility here to spice up space combat, notably by adding nuclear power and more diverse warheads. For example, you could have nuclear shotgun torpedoes, which, when within range of the target (a couple thousand km or so), detonate and shoot a dense cluster of fragments at the ship. Similarly, a nuclear HEAT round would be able to shoot a high-speed compressed beam of super-heated liquid tungsten at a ship from many km away. In fact, missiles that can deal damage before they strike the target are probably better than simple explode-on-impact systems because nuclear explosions, even at close ranges, aren't super dangerous in a vacuum because they have nothing to push against.

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    $\begingroup$ Grey goo: hey, human(was censured, they used m-word, bag something) - no energy no hull eating, we on a strike. Use smart matter instead, it is a nicer thing, not like those grey goo jerks $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 10:47
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    $\begingroup$ Honorverse has bomb-pumped lasers (as missile warheads). The first book makes a rather big deal of how they have a much greater stand-off range than traditional missiles (though even those use nuclear shaped charges and have some stand-off range). $\endgroup$
    – Matthew
    Jun 9, 2021 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ The post is tagged "science-based" and the "grey goo" formulation of nanomachines has always been sci-fantasy. Also sci-fantasy are particle beams, ion cannon, plasma cannon, etc., because charged particles push each other away and hot particles thermally expand meaning that the beam disperses over a very short distance. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2021 at 13:20
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    $\begingroup$ Re: masers, it was once a sci-fi staple to have satellites beam power back to earth using microwave energy, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wireless_power_transfer#Microwaves. If were a space warship designer faced with maser weapons and I was feeling cheeky, I'd set up receiving antennas on the target ship to collect electricity to power my own ships from the beam. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2021 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ @GrumpyYoungMan "Science fantasy" is "wizards in space", not what appears to be engineering problems. I also don't see what's so fantasy'ish about small self-replicating machines, considering you yourself are (presumably) built out of those. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2021 at 10:46
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Use the same old, but differently

What seems to be the worst for you is that a lot of weapons are the same old. The thing is, many can be used in surprising ways, allowing you to be incredibly creative with the same old stuff.

Lasers have a huge range of effects possible. They can heat, ablate, accelerate, change composition, localised freezing and more. It really depends on what form of laser you use.

But a railgun is much the same. You might think a payload going at such high speeds is advantageous, as a solid round has incredible energies. A normal bullet can potentially be fired so hard it'll impact like a grenade! But that can actually be detrimental. An AP bullet against an unarmoured target is bad, as it'll straight up penetrate the body and come out the other side, not imparting most of it's energy and a higher chance of not doing enough damage. A railgun might punch straight through, but not do enough damage on the way. You can then start messing with the bullet, firing magnetic gasses instead, or have special payloads inside the bullet for extra effects. The payload can be akin to a battery, possibly charged in part by the magnetic forces, allowing a transfer of lightning when it touches the ship. You do need to pack an insane amount of energy in a relatively small package for lightning as powerful as in nature, but in general you can already make pretty effective lightning from smaller charges.

In general my answer is to say you can use the existing, but use it differently. This can be because most literature isn't true enough to form, or there's tertiary reasons to use different kinds of interesting payloads.

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  • $\begingroup$ "railgun might punch straight through, but not do enough damage on the way." Just yesterday I was recalling that the expanse moment that perfectly round hole from a kinetic penetrator, which popped a head of unlucky guy and .... So irritating, such a BS, it pure fantasy no matter how hard your uranim rods are. Looks nice, can give that, but BSBS $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 10:32
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    $\begingroup$ Re: "A railgun might punch straight through", if that were true, the Whipple shield principle wouldn't work. At space combat velocities, the energies involved are such that any impact converts the projectile into an explosion, regardless of whether it's a marshmallow or depleted uranium. Compare the computational fluid dynamics simulations of a hypervelocity impact at 14 km/s (Mach 40) with and without a Whipple shield youtube.com/watch?v=M4p2vg9eRgM $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2021 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @GrumpyYoungMan Not sure how you got to that conclusion. Why wouldn't a Whipple shield work? Besides, the Whipple shield isn't meant for larger masses. You wouldn't want to spread out the mass and energy of a railgun bullet. Being hit directly will definitely be bad and won't look like a perfect round hole in both sides of the ship. Yet it can still punch through, leaving most of it's energy in the bullet (fragments) floating around and not in the ship. Even so it is not the point of the answer. The point is that there can be reasons why he/she can use the same old stuff. $\endgroup$
    – Trioxidane
    Jun 9, 2021 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ Whipple shield works for big or small projectiles, it just distances and tickness of layers will be different for effective work. A hull of spaceship will on its own act as Whipple shield where most(depends on projectile speed, for high velocity it will be most) of energy (if it does not blow out the opposite wall completly) will be delivered between first and second layer. At 2.8km/s 1kg of mass equivalent to 1kg of tnt. So each kg of a wall will act as an active armor on tanks acting against the projectile and inside of the volume. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Funny part let say laser shmaser point defence against kinetic projectile, evaporated it close enough - it's too late, the mass still moves at high velovity it just hole will be bigger. Point is - it looong time as time to reevaluate good old things and bring them to modern standarts. // Sure I agree on the main point - it matters less what do you have, as strategy of application provides much depth it just not everyone can tap to the well, so as a result it matters more what one does. But still, level up folks, modern time modern warfare $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 16:48
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I think a collimated neutral particle beam is probably the best possible possible weapon if you disregard exactly how to produce the beam (I doubt it would be very energy efficient compared to a relativistic railgun).

It combines the best properties of mass drivers/rail guns and lasers, in that it's non dispersive over basically any reasonable range (unlike a laser) and it's travel time is basically c (unlike most railguns).

Charged particle beams are almost the worst thing you could use because the beam is incredibly dispersive, and they can be deflected with electric or magnetic fields.

The precision of a neutral particle beam this is basically limited by the quality of the targeting data available, and your capacity to direct the beam. The intrinsic capacity for precision of neutral particle beam is so good one could make a headshot from the Earth to Mars. Over 2 au, a 1 meter aperture neutron beam has a spot size of about a cm, it gets even better with atoms, but you may have more penetration issues if the target is shielded.

And I haven't even discussed the fact that, depending on the neutron flux, anything the beam hits will have have a fast neutron reaction, neatly obliterating anything nearby in a nuclear fireball.

For extra cool factor the beam will glow blue from cherenkov radiation in atmosphere.

The ideal setup might be a relativistic rail gun for slow targets like planets and stations, combined with one of these beams for precision strikes and when you just need that extra few 9s on the end of terminal velocity (0.999... c).

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Wormhole Torpedos

Similar to a normal torpedo on the outside, these weapons contain a small and unstable wormhole fragment in a quantum containment vessel. On impact, the containment breaches, and the wormhole surges out of control before dissipating. Everything within 5-70 meters (depending on the size of the fragment) is then warped to the other end of the wormhole. This inflicts fairly substantial damage on enemy ships, but the other end of the wormhole is also a salvage yard, so the materials stripped from the enemy can be recycled into new ships. In some cases, a larger torpedo and a lucky shot can even claim working equipment.

Additionally the torpedos can take the place of an escape pod in an emergency. Just put on a space suit, get within range of the warhead, and get sent back to friendly space and picked up by a salvage crew.

Not sure if this is realistic/sciency enough, but I can't recall seeing anything like it before.

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    $\begingroup$ Safety guideline - never, i repeat, never shoot it at a planet, or our salvage crew will find you by ip and there will be consequences. $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 21:47
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I love the macaroon accelerator! And now I am hungry. I also have some other ideas for weird weapons:

  1. Strange matter. Not super novel but not rehashed lasers and rockets. Strange matter is a form of quark matter that is not like our familiar baryonic matter. It is possible that strange matter could be "infectious" converting our familiar matter into strange matter.

Is there any guidance how my matter from another universe should behave?

  1. Glueballs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glueball These are agglomerations of gluons, the particles which mediate the strong force that holds matter together.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluon

A gluon (/ˈɡluːɒn/) is an elementary particle that acts as the exchange particle (or gauge boson) for the strong force between quarks. It is analogous to the exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles.[6] In layman's terms, they "glue" quarks together, forming hadrons such as protons and neutrons.

Electrically neutral stabilized glueballs will disrupt the strong force, splitting atoms into constituent quarks. The result might be a quark-gluon plasma.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark%E2%80%93gluon_plasma

In short, a quark–gluon plasma flows like a splat of liquid, and because it's not "transparent" with respect to quarks, it can attenuate jets emitted by collisions. Furthermore, once formed, a ball of quark–gluon plasma, like any hot object, transfers heat internally by radiation. However, unlike in everyday objects, there is enough energy available so that gluons (particles mediating the strong force) collide and produce an excess of the heavy (i.e. high-energy) strange quarks. Whereas, if the QGP didn't exist and there was a pure collision, the same energy would be converted into a non-equilibrium mixture containing even heavier quarks such as charm quarks or bottom quarks.[34][35]

Matter of the target would be disrupted and changed - probably into a shower of exotic particles. But maybe other things. Quark-gluon plasma is heady stuff.

  1. Dimension shift. We live in a multiverse of infinite parallel dimensions each one very similar to the next but not identical. With the correct vector it is possible to rotate the dimension of a given area of space and it requires very little energy. There is no defense against this except to not be in that area. It often turns out that the space rotated in is identical or nearly identical to what was there before and no harm is done. The corresponding space rotated in might be empty or very different or very weird. Or there may be only slight differences; for example on my ship that was hit, the bar now has a number of drinks I have never heard of and I would have heard.
    It is possible that large areas of the universe were so rotated in ancient battles, accounting for ...discrepancies.

  2. Ghost gun. This weapon uses occult technomagical principles, more or less pulling an entity out of its plane and projecting it at enemies. Sometimes entities are identified, collected and stored in advance but storage is difficult and costly. More often the collection and projection occurs simultaneously and the nature of the projected entity is not known by the users of the weapon. Unless it comes back. Weapons of various makes collect a wide variety of entities and early versions often collected entities which were of no use as weapons, or were extremely dangerous, or incomplete, or all of the above. These weapons are a lot better now, the makers assure us. One must have purpose built technomagical defenses against such a weapon.

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Hacking Make use of supply channel attacks, known communication protocol implementation bugs, etcetera to disable or destroy equipment in the enemy ships. This can be as simple as screwing up their aiming or navigation capability up to completely destroying their power source (and likely a large part of the ship with it).

Biological Food supply contamination, pests or outright disease. This requires prior planning to get the agents on board but could be triggered by a signal when needed.

Social Do a Hari Seldon/Foundation style attack where the attacker's fleet is withdrawn by their leader over suspicions about the loyalty of the admiral leading the attack. Another option would be to sow disinformation/dissention in the ranks of the attacking ships via deep faked sensory messages.

Financial Destroy the economy or credit rating of the attacking empire or specific members of the command hierarchy. They'll beg you to let them surrender if you'll only restore their wealth.

MARD Mutually assured relativistic destruction. Have self-assembling drones in the outskirts of the system that create relativistic kinetic weapons that can be aimed in any direction. It may take decades or more, but destruction of entire planetary surfaces can be done with little more than an encoded message specifying the target to the drones.

Temporal So long as we're allowing interstellar war, we might as well admit that this requires FTL to be practical and therefore time travel. This can allow for many hilarious plot twists in attacks along the line of the above plus enemy ancestor murder!

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Muon gun

Muons are subatomic particles that are very hard to stop. You could use a beam of high energy muons to bypass armor and damage some systems aboard enemy warship. You don`t need a lot of energy to damage some electronics.

Monopoles

There might exist some topological defects such as monopoles. Such object would annihilate with anitmonopoles but not with normal mater. Same uses as antimatter but safer.

Nuclear Explosive Formed Projectiles

You could use nukes to accelerate multi-tone metal plates to multiple kilometers per second. Such a projectile could brake a ship in half with momentum that is carries.

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  • $\begingroup$ Last one is good, we still do not know where the lid cover did go $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 13, 2021 at 7:49
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Whilst this is far less practical or energy efficient, compared to many of the other weapons proposed. None the less here we go...

A "Gravity" weapon. A weapon that would literally tear your enemies apart, as it would create massive tidal forces (which are differences in the gravitational "force" experiences by either end of your enemies station, ship, body, thus tearing it apart). And as it comes from distortions in space-time it can't be shielded from.

How would you make it: tidal forces come from sharp distortions of space-time, this tends to happen very close to massive dense objects, (like black holes, where its called Spaghettification).

But black holes would be hard to create close to your enemies with out them noticing, and would be hard to clean up after the battle. Instead you could create the distortions by gravitational waves, as the also produce tidal forces as they pass through a material, and if strong enough would shred ships.

Now is where the impracticality comes in, gravitational waves are emitted by large masses oscillating (technically the are also emitted from smaller masses as well, but they only emit lower amplitude waves). So to create a large distortion you would need a lot of mass (at least the mass of the sun), in a small volume (like a black hole, or neutron star). The current waves that have been observed com from black holes orbiting either another black hole or a neutron star, and emit the gravitational waves in a plane around the orbiting objects, so not that great for those around you. To get a more focused beam you might be able to get a series of black holes/neutron stars, arrayed correctly and oscillating at the right times, to produce a beam of gravitational waves directed at your enemies.

It would be a massive weapon would require very advanced engineering to be able to arrange it correctly, but would be very destructive.

Hopefully that helps

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I personally do not like lasers for space combat settings, probably more because it is not enough space in the ways how they are usually described or used, but let's attack your perception that they are always boring.

Dragongeek mentions nuclear-pumped laser, good stuff, buuut...

Expand! Engage! Bigger! Better! Make it so!

  • make it soo big that u eyes are popping out from how big it is, space is big, keep your eyes in a pocket and fly safely.

There are certain problems with the implementation of the idea, so it just an idea.

Space is big and empty, very convenient for fusion things, I mean typical attempts to make fusion work spend a great deal of effort to make a vacuum close to one which is present in unlimited quantities in space.

So imagine a gas(plasma) cloud (yes, I like gas clouds in space) in a form of a cylinder, with a diameter of 1-2 km and length of 1000 km. Which consist of some fusion mix maybe plus something, but not necessarily.

If you manage to blast that cloud, ignite it in a fusion way, it will create a plasma cylinder, maybe 10 km in diameter in the time when it was used (obviously it will dissipate after a short time) but for a few milliseconds it is there for our use.

It will be high energy plasma high excited state, it is what lasers use in their optical cavities so it is a thing which a laser needs, and a flash on one end in direction to another end will collect some energy, will be amplified by going through that plasma cloud and on the other end, as it exits the cloud it may have substantial energy.

It does not need an optical cavity, a distance a photon goes bouncing forth and back in some 10cm rod is maybe a few times less than those 1000km soo straight through is enough. (Not enough? Make it 10'000, 100'000, a million km)

ITER plasma energy/power density is something around 1MW per cubic meter of plasma, it is energy produced per second, soo let's say our plasma cloud exists, in its useful state shape form properties, for 5 ms, soo about 5000 J of energy per cubic meter are "produced" in those 5ms, let say the efficiency of extracting energy out of it with our amplified pulse is 1% (it probably should be more, but..), so we get 50J per cubic meter on the exit side.

2km diameter, 1000km length yields about 3 TJ of energy, contained in a 5ms pulse.

  • it 25 times more for that 10 km diameter I initially proposed. Why scaling down, idk, it is a complex dynamic expanding situation, so to be conservative

Not much, especially compared to the size, and diameter of the beam, but it lands us in one kiloton of TNT territory for the pulse. And if we use a reactor on a ship to do the same it has to reach peak power of 600'000GW × 1/efficiency, or if we have some ability to pump the energy for a minute, and it sounds easier than it practically is as we have to store energy somewhere and at the end, we have to deliver it fast to some optical cavity then it is 50GW × 1/efficiency.

  • as of today, 50GW is quite a challenge and the thing isn't small, and if efficiency is 10% it then 500GW to shoot once in a minute. 500 reactors, eh.

Thinking about that, a typical depiction of a laser installed in a ship is sooo wrong, sooo unrealistic from a technology perspective.

In general, any high-energy weaponry or even devices or even the main characteristic of a space ship its engines installed next to crew and other ship internals is not necessarily the way to go.

  • The Expanse handwaved its Epstein drive, which by the specs is nothing but a regular fusion engine, but done in a right/wrong/realistic way then things would look nothing like it was depicted in the show, not even close. (Like their missiles, lol)
  • this expanse example probably is an addendum to the point - maybe things are boring because they are wrong and stuck to concepts of the 70's - weapons inside a ship, engine inside a ship, etc. Here a guy asked about heat dissipation for his ships, a right question How to get rid of all the heat in my spaceship? and the short answer is to not allow to build it up where it should not. And in that sense, external components are a perfect solution, engines, weaponry, and stuff. So a ship is not necessarily a ship as it was envisioned since the '70s as monohull construction but a cluster of components, deployed temporarily or always external.

In the case of that plasma cloud, we have problems - it dissipates, how to ignite it, how to recharge, or how to set up it in the first place.

In that sense, we can have a series of devices, in different configurations and function, not one solid block of a reactor of that size, but as separate units, like those cool stargate rings type every 1000 meters apart, which each of those we deploy out of cable/pipe/whatever 3.5-7 km long. These are, components, deployed from some ship, it is its external temporary device, which can have different stages of deployment for ease of manipulation with that equipment. And in the end, it is a somewhat open big fusion reactor that pulses for a minute(or how much it can take by design +50% to be more dramatic) each second making our 5 ms bangs, then some cooldown time, which can be speedup by some another deploy component.

  • that ring setup for that temporary fusion reactor is not necessarily the best way to do it, it can be a set of devices in its core as well(there are ways for that) and it may be a better way. But what best is probably beyond the point I try to conduct, and you were so generous with you restrictions soo
  • also magsail designs are quite interesting concepts of small devices affecting plasma, solar wind, at distances of 10's km. (There should be a link, but, someone plz)

So instead of those useless carriers motherships which look so cool in the movies where main characters with cool faces jump in their fighters to do phue phue phue against bad guys. A ship deploys a unit that does the bang, which has the potential to obliterate things. With those fighter guys, especially on the distances and with those pointless actions they typically do, few nukes is enough to wipe them all clean, they were pointless since the inception.

Some guy proposed to use sun's corona as the laser medium, no containing problem, should probably work well, obiviously it has its limitations as well. So really, more space thinking and things start to become fun again. What you typically see are old concepts reused over and over again because yeah you know reasons, lol.

P.S.

Where to get all those fusion components u waste so much each shot. Go to Jupiter, there is enough for hundreds of pan-solar wars.

Okay okay maybe this laser thing isn't great in a long run, really worse than a steam engine, but imagine those guys from a fleet of carriers, they are about to do their pheu pheu usual stuff, and you enroll your shiny reactor thing for the first time for actions and bang bang, and then laugh at their debris muhaha, they even didn't have the time to deploy.

This superiority will hold until the next good thing or until they build one for themselves, or effective countermeasures can be implemented. Countermeasures are inseparable from the capacities of your fleets, so you may figure out one quite fast(but that guess may turn out to be the wrong one) but not necessarily be able to implement, so it not instantaneous if one lacks capacities.

There always will be a next good thing, nothing set in stone.

P.P.S.

In a sense your first question is good but not for an attacking purpose, but how to transmit energy in form of electricity in a compact way/easy to use directly between components in space which are km's apart without using wires. Those fancy plasma beams between components occasionally popping up, and they do make practical sense in some settings.

P...S.

That macron thing is quite good actually, you can use it to set up cloud, like dynamic 3d printing, D-icicle particles at different velocities and angles to melt and slowly to evaporate, and to ignite the cloud later. Soo, there is more than one way to skin a fish.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only downvoted answer, whaaat, eh, lol. Why so, I'm reading and transcribing stolen from future trveler manuals, eh... $\endgroup$
    – MolbOrg
    Jun 9, 2021 at 20:13
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Limpet mines

An explosive device that waits for an enemy to draw near, then attaches itself to the hull before detonating.

You could probably add other features:

  • Make it emit a bright EM signal to help your ship's sensors stay locked on the enemy, who is likely trying to minimize their sensor signature to confound your weapons.
  • Create sensor ghosts to confuse your enemy.
  • Make it wait to detonate until the enemy returns to base. You'd pretend to flee the engagement. Could also help track the enemy or locate their base, if that's an unknown.

Mines are normally considered a bad idea in space because space is huge and empty[citation needed]. But consider that the enemy isn't interested in all space, they're interested in:

  • the space immediately around your vessel
  • the space where your vessel was
  • the space where your vessel will be
  • the space immediately around strategic or tactical locations
  • the space in and around your own wrecked vessels (derelicts)

You don't have to surround the Earth with mines, which is good because it would take a bajillion of them. Instead, you may be able to create situations in which the enemy will want to draw near to the place where your mine is. Maybe that derelict was placed there. Maybe you're dishonorable and you sneak a mine onto the shuttle that the enemy uses to meet you for parlay. (You can't gain a bad reputation if everyone you stab in the back dies before they can report the fact.)

I would hate to have mines as my only weapon, but it might not be a bad idea to carry a couple of them in case an opportunity presents itself. Worst-case, mines in your vessel could be rigged as a booby trap in case your crew are all killed and the enemy tries to board your ship.

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  • $\begingroup$ Even such localized space as around a point of interest like a planet is still a volume of billions of cubic kilometers. $\endgroup$ Jun 25, 2021 at 11:06
  • $\begingroup$ I anticipated your objection and addressed it, and immediately went on to talk about human-scale structures only. $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Jun 26, 2021 at 15:22
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Following Trioxidane's advice, let's give a second life to a railgun.

Fusion cannon

  • I'll keep it short, more like a sketch of an idea

Quite often people propose launching fuel canisters ahead of a ship for its interstellar journey, not going to work(only one case it can work) but here we can reshape it to a working idea.

Let's imagine a million km long fusion fuel tube/gas cloud/icicles cloud which we deposited upfront the shoot.

The projectile is a Bussard ramjet drive. It goes along the trace of that fuel, it moves along like a flame of a safety fuse. Compressing plasma in front, ionizing not yet plasma even further in front, and igniting plasma into fusion, and using exhaust as magsail device to propel itself.

Advantages it may be a thing before you have good fusion reactors for the ships, as stability of plasma is not a problem for such construction, IMHO, because it ignites fuel as it goes and instabilities can't pass upfront and what happens at the tail no one cares.

The diameter of that fusion fuse can be big, as usual, or small, but it harder.

Can be used against more predictable targets, but projectile can be maneuvrable as well, chemical rockets, so it more like a cannon with smart shells.

It is a constant acceleration projectile, no deacceleration capacities(so not appropriate for human use), no rocket equation.

So let's say 10g for a million km it will be 140 km/s resulting speed, not much, so so, yeah probably need more than a million km, as million isn't that much it just 2.5 distances between earth-moon or higher acceleration. But still, it 12(24) days for a military response against Mars as an example. Not necessarily city destruction, but the potential to wipe all their satellites in orbit around Mars, disrupting communications and sure deliver some pressure. (Or is it a martian's plan, hm, hm)

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