If you have ever watched a Space Combat and thought to yourself – ‘that’s complete rubbish, it’d never be like that’ – the chances are that you were probably right. One thing Hollywood has never really let get much in the way is accuracy – particularly when it comes to Space. If you are interested in how the business of war in space might actually take place, there is a fascinating article on the topic running on Gizmodo at the moment written by Joseph Shoer, a Ph.D. candidate in aerospace engineering.
One of the more interesting notes that the author makes is the complete impracticality of explosions in space. As space is a vacuum, the shockwaves generated by an explosion, which, while being very useful here on Earth, is completely useless in space. He suggests that in the end, the most useful weapon will most likely be the good old cannon or gun. He of course goes on to give it the much cooler name of kinetic impactor so as to sound more ‘spacey’, but in the end, it’s the same old gun that we are familiar with.
The article goes on to look at radiation as a weapon, the size and shape of spacecraft, and some of the implications for the various technologies that would need to be used. He also briefly compares the Hollywood and fictional styles of combat including Star Trek, Star Wars and Ender’s Game. Overall it’s an intriguing look at what an actual battle in space might look like in reality (and might even change how you are running that Alternity or Star Frontiers game…).