Laser Weapons in Atmosphere and Space

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CalliArcale

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Nevertheless, there have been experiments involving lasers fired into space. None have been destructive, though. The most visible is the USAF's airborne laser, which is carried by a Boeing 747. It's freakin' huge for an airborne laser; when a 747 can only carry one of something, you know it's big! It's not for ASAT, though; it's for attacking ballistic missiles.

The best ASAT technology at present appears to be kinetic energy weapons -- missiles, kamikaze spacecraft, etc.
 
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docm

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

Valcan":1pj8x6uy said:
The B52 out there was retired last year or so i believe so.

As for firing a laser through the atmosphere its kinda like shooting a bullet throught the water.

The atmosphere will greatly weaken and make tracking harder.
The ABL equipped 747, aka YAL-1A, is still flying and passed a major targeting milestone not long ago. They're on a ramp-up to a shoot-down.

Unless you blast a plasma channel through the air with a UV laser, then the plasma does the damage at impact. That or microwave weapon - essentially a high powered MASER. The Navy is big into developing microwave weapons and rail-guns.

Then there are GRASER/GASER's.
 
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nimbus

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

CalliArcale":g1jghje7 said:
Nevertheless, there have been experiments involving lasers fired into space. None have been destructive, though. The most visible is the USAF's airborne laser, which is carried by a Boeing 747. It's freakin' huge for an airborne laser; when a 747 can only carry one of something, you know it's big!
Hundred(s)-mile range.
 
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Testing

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

CalliArcale":39uzbmix said:
Nevertheless, there have been experiments involving lasers fired into space. None have been destructive, though. The most visible is the USAF's airborne laser, which is carried by a Boeing 747. It's freakin' huge for an airborne laser; when a 747 can only carry one of something, you know it's big! It's not for ASAT, though; it's for attacking ballistic missiles.

The best ASAT technology at present appears to be kinetic energy weapons -- missiles, kamikaze spacecraft, etc.
The proper term is COIL. Chlorine Oxygen Iodine Laser. Or Chemical Laser. They compcted it a bit to put it on ABL. I personally alligned the ground based demonstrater primary optics and pushed the button the first time. It will do the job but is Mx intensive. My involvement was twenty years ago.
 
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docm

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

COIL should be supplanted in most applications by the solid state (diode pumped) and free electron lasers, which are coming along. Just last June Raytheon got a Navy (actually Office of Navy Research) contract for a 100 kW FEL and in principal there is no reason for them not to achieve multi-megawatts - much more powerful than the COIL.

nimbus":3jpadq8u said:
CalliArcale":3jpadq8u said:
Nevertheless, there have been experiments involving lasers fired into space. None have been destructive, though. The most visible is the USAF's airborne laser, which is carried by a Boeing 747. It's freakin' huge for an airborne laser; when a 747 can only carry one of something, you know it's big!
Hundred(s)-mile range.
300+ miles IIRC, and there is another weaponized COIL laser, the Advanced Tactical Laser, being tested in an AC-130H "Spooky" gunship. It just fried a hole completely through an SUV's front end & engine and into the desert floor. Self tracking, it is.

That said what the military really would like are HPM weapons - high powered microwave. Same result as an EMP weapon but highly directional and capable of high 'biological effects' - meaning it can cook you in place. Sierra Nevada (parent of SpaceDev) has also done work on using microwaves to induce noise or modulated audio sensations in humans at a distance (project MEDUSA).

ATL
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfmEUqmgsK4[/youtube]
 
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nimbus

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

docm":3tbujtbx said:
300+ miles IIRC, and there is another weaponized COIL laser, the Advanced Tactical Laser, being tested in an AC-130H "Spooky" gunship. It just fried a hole completely through an SUV's front end & engine and into the desert floor. Self tracking, it is.
Dang... From how far out?
 
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docm

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

The ATL Spooky was tested from its usual operational altitudes, usually several thousand to tens of thousand feet.

Also: a presser from Boeing says that it was recently successful at attacking both stationary and moving vehicles. Problem with the Spooky is it's small enough not to be able to carry much of the lasers fuel, so gunships and fighters will have to wait for the electric or free electron lasers before they're practical - but even then a big cannon shell or chain gun is cheaper. For specialized missions only - those requiring very precision targeting where no collateral damage is desired.

300+ miles is the kill range of the 747's COIL laser. The 747's range depends on the load and model.

Remember this bird will be flying above the vast majority of the atmosphere and shooting level, or more often up into even more rarefied layers of the atmosphere.

The idea is to orbit in friendly territory under the guidance and protection of AWACS and our air resources and shoot missiles launched from a neighboring enemy during the boost phase. A theater weapon.
 
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CalliArcale

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

docm":1i0tmb16 said:
300+ miles is the kill range of the 747's COIL laser. The 747's range depends on the load and model.
It's a pretty awesome piece of technology (and how awesomely cool is it that we've got a member who actually worked on it -- that's major geek cred, Testing!). IIRC, it's major limitation from a ballistic missile defense perspective is deployment -- 747s only go so fast, and ballistic missiles go faster. So it's quite plausible for an ICBM to reach its target before the COIL can be used against it. Of course, that's where military intelligence comes in, helping work out the best place to deploy the vehicle to intercept and destroy incoming ICBMs.

Long term, the idea would presumably be to have many of them in operation, or, preferably, much smaller and less power-hungry devices. You could get decent coverage that way.

For ASAT, of course, you have more opportunities thanks to orbital motion. ICBMs, you pretty much just get one shot, and not a lot of time (if any) to plan and prepare.
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

Can someone just remind me how all this laser discussion is related to the topic of the X-37B launch in April 2010?

I think it's time to split this thread up.
 
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CalliArcale

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

*sheepish* It isn't. Sorry about that. We started out talking how maybe X-37 might be the first move towards a secret ASAT device, and got sidetracked.

*awaits 30 lashes with a wet noodle*
 
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MeteorWayne

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Re: X-37B launch in April 2010

Just one {sploosh} :)

I'm going to move the laser posts to a new thread "Laser Weapons" in Space Business and Technology.
 
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docm

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The outer space treaty limits nuclear weapons in space. You don't necessarily need nuclear processes or materials to create a powerful laser, maser or even a graser beam.

Also; it could be argued that the references to weapons of mass destruction don't apply to them because of their ability to be narrowly targeted and that most uses would be for ASAT purposes - hardly a threat to large populations as with real WMD's. There is also that the terms "laser", "directed energy", "optical", "electromagnetic" and "microwave" aren't in the treaty.

Then, of course, there is the fact that the US or anyone else could just find the treaty inconvenient and abrogate it. The US did this with the ABM treaty which is why we now have SM-3 antimissile-missiles on Aegis equipped naval vessels, among other things.
 
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Zipi

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Since topic is "laser weapons" this post is not absolutely in correct topic, but I won't bother doing another one...

Has anyone thought is it possible to fire a small projectile from X-37B towards recently launched rocket upper stage until it reaches orbital speed? This would make the debris to drop down quite soon since it would only have max. sub-orbital speed and since the projectile would be very small it would be impossible to see from ground.

Capability to drop out satellite before it reaches orbit without anyone seeing the shot would be very handy at certain situations... For example if some "bad" nation is developing a launch capability this could give them plenty of headache why their launch vehicle is always blowing up during the second/upper stage flight. Not to mention the possibility to shoot down nuclear warheads etc...
 
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DarkenedOne

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CalliArcale":k0sb26vx said:
Nevertheless, there have been experiments involving lasers fired into space. None have been destructive, though. The most visible is the USAF's airborne laser, which is carried by a Boeing 747. It's freakin' huge for an airborne laser; when a 747 can only carry one of something, you know it's big! It's not for ASAT, though; it's for attacking ballistic missiles.

The best ASAT technology at present appears to be kinetic energy weapons -- missiles, kamikaze spacecraft, etc.
"The best ASAT technology at present appears to be kinetic energy weapons -- missiles, kamikaze spacecraft, etc"

If you went to the gun store and you were looking at a gun that advertised that it could kill an attacker with 100% reliability, but at the same time there was a 50% chance that the bullet would bounce back and kill you or someone you care about would you buy it?

This situation illustrates the problem with missile anti-sats. The debris caused by the impact spreads out and poses a significant threat to everyone including yourself, your allies, and neutral states. Weapons that have such a high potential for collateral damage are useless.

The best option is to use an energy weapon to disable it, or use a small sat like the XSS-11 to dock with them and disable them somehow.
 
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Zipi

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DarkenedOne":1ubq4jth said:
This situation illustrates the problem with missile anti-sats. The debris caused by the impact spreads out and poses a significant threat to everyone including yourself, your allies, and neutral states. Weapons that have such a high potential for collateral damage are useless.
True, but if you have the technology to shoot the satellite / launch vehicle at the edge of space while it still is at sub-orbital speed the debris will drop down in minutes. Please read my previous post and tell what you think. Of course this kind of approach could only be used for new satellites. And if it is doable it could be very stealthy and hard to detect what caused the launch vehicle malfunction.
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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This talk of militarizing space is definitely worrying. It is the realm of science, exploration, and discovery. Let's keep it for peaceful purposes rather than that of war.
 
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DarkenedOne

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Yuri_Armstrong":3edc2vmx said:
This talk of militarizing space is definitely worrying. It is the realm of science, exploration, and discovery. Let's keep it for peaceful purposes rather than that of war.
First of all space has been militarized since its beginning. It was the military that put the first satellites into orbit. While there are currently no known weapons in space, there can be no doubt that it will be a battlefield for the 21st century.
 
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rockett

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DarkenedOne":1kbp2puh said:
First of all space has been militarized since its beginning. It was the military that put the first satellites into orbit. While there are currently no known weapons in space, there can be no doubt that it will be a battlefield for the 21st century.
With recon, military comm, and gps coming down first...
 
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Yuri_Armstrong

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DarkenedOne":jbp8q7p0 said:
First of all space has been militarized since its beginning. It was the military that put the first satellites into orbit. While there are currently no known weapons in space, there can be no doubt that it will be a battlefield for the 21st century.
I know that. What I'm saying is that space based weaponry should be banned. We do not want anymore "battlefields", especially not in space.
 
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