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Eclipse Phase Space Warfare

Anders Sandberg
April 26, 2011

Abstract
noindent This essay analyses the physics of spacecraft and space com-
bat in Eclipse Phase. Based on the technological assumptions explicitly
and implicitly made in the game together with known physics, various
constraints on space warfare can be concluded. In general, the space bat-
tlefield is extremely high-energy, high-loss and dominated by the forces
that can estimate the locations of enemy assets accurately despite mas-
sive interference. FTL quantum entanglement communication provides a
big but not decisive advantage to forces able to afford it.

Contents
1 Introduction 3
1.1 Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3

2 Ship performance 4

3 Energy requirements 4
3.1 Reactor sizes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
3.2 Exhaust temperature . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
3.3 Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

4 Detection 9
4.1 Sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
4.2 Thermal emissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
4.3 Exhaust emissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
4.4 Sunlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
4.5 Sensor sizes and sky scanning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
4.6 Ship spectra and detectability distance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
4.7 Scanning limitations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
4.8 Particle emissions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
4.9 Railgun projectiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
4.10 Active sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
4.11 Stealth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4.11.1 Anisotropic radiation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4.11.2 Cooling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
4.12 Parallax . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
4.13 Hiding from many eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
4.14 Spoofing and jamming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

1
5 Weapons 19
5.1 Independent weapon buses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
5.2 Lasers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
5.2.1 Sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
5.2.2 Beam optics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
5.2.3 Heating beams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
5.2.4 Explosive beams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
5.3 Railguns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
5.4 Particle weapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
5.5 Missiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
5.5.1 Kinetic impactor rods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
5.5.2 Nukes and antimatter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23
5.5.3 Rocks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
5.5.4 Relativistic missiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
5.5.5 Leashes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
5.5.6 Nanoweapons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
5.6 Fighters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
5.7 Networked warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

6 Armor 26
6.1 Kinetic impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
6.2 Beam impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
6.3 Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

7 General strategy 28

8 Cloud combat 29
8.1 Weapons vs. sensors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

9 Hitting a dodging enemy 30

10 Conclusions 32
10.1 Deep space combat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
10.2 Orbital warfare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33

List of Tables
1 Ship engine types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
2 Ship properties . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
3 Energy storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

2
1 Introduction and antimatter weaponry. But space
strategy is limited by lightspeed de-
Eclipse Phase is a mostly hard SF role- lays (somewhat modified thanks to
playing game with a setting stretching quantum entanglement FTL commu-
across the solar system (and some ex- nications), the limitations of materials
oplanets). Space travel is not uncom- based on molecular bonds, high visi-
mon and in the past there have been bility of accelerating major crafts and
military conflicts in space. While per- finite reaction mass resources. Many
sonal combat is described space com- technologies in the game are close to
bat is not; the game states that: the limits set by physics, which simpli-
fies analysis somewhat.
Spacecraft have few stats
in Eclipse Phase, as they
are primarily handled as 1.1 Acknowledgements
setting rather than vehi- This essay was inspired by past dis-
cles. Note also that no cussions at the Eclipse Phase Forum2 ,
stats are given for space- where many bright ideas were sug-
craft weaponry. It is highly gested.
recommended that space The Atomic Rocket page3 and
combat be handled as a Rocketpunk Manifesto4 have been an
plot device rather than a important source of inspiration, refer-
combat scene, given the ex- ences and opinions influencing this es-
treme lethality and danger say.
involved.1 The basic ship performance num-
bers were kindly supplied by JSnead.
While this is sensible advice for a
I would also like to thank him for hav-
roleplaying game, it is a direct chal-
ing done proper design calculations be-
lenge for players who like to con-
hind the scenes, simplifying this work
sider how space combat might work,
immensely.
the strategies involved and how these
might affect the characters inside the
game. For example, is space com-
bat heavily stealth oriented or re-
quires ships with massive armor barg-
ing through enemy point defenses?
What are fighter craft (and fighter pi-
lots) useful for? How much of an
advantage does a space habitat have
against an attacker?
In the following I will analyse what
follows from the assumptions made in
the game, as well as extrapolations
from known physics and technology.
Technology in Eclipse Phase has
achieved dense energy sources allow-
ing fast spacecraft, fast optical pro-
cessing running human-level cognition,
1 Eclipse Phase core book, p. 346.
2 http://www.eclipsephase.com/forum
3 http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/index.html
4 http://www.rocketpunk-manifesto.com/

3
Table 1: Ship engine types
Engine Acceleration G Acceleration m/s2 Isp s
Hydrogen-Oxygen Rocket 4+ 39.3 450
Metallic Hydrogen 3 29.5 1,600
Plasma Rocket 0.01 0.1 20,000
Fusion Rocket 0.05 0.5 100,000
Anti-Matter 0.2 1.96 200,000
Rocket Buggy 0.5 4.9

2 Ship performance gIsp , g is the Earth surface gravity),


m0 the initial total mass of the space-
The key ability of spaceships is that craft and m1 the remaining payload
they can accelerate long and strongly mass after all reaction mass has been
enough to reach high velocities or used. Higher velocities require either
change their velocity (v) radically. higher exhaust velocities or exponen-
This requires expelling reaction mass tially more fuel.
at a high velocity. A key value is Ships with v > 80 km/s typically
the specific impulse (Isp ), how much do not have to worry about launch win-
momentum each kilogram of reaction dows, while slower ships need to plan
mass can impart on the ship. The their trajectories so that the origin and
faster the reaction mass is emitted, the destination are in the right alignment.
higher the Isp . However, this does
not necessarily mean a higher acceler- Ships are limited by how much
ation. Available engines typically have remaining reaction mass they retain
a high acceleration for low Isp and vice when making course corrections (es-
versa: the high acceleration engines are pecially defensive ones) en route. I
less able to achieve high v since they will assume ships (especially warships)
waste much fuel, while high Isp engines keep a fraction of their reaction mass
cannot produce high accelerations due budget in reserve, giving them a frac-
to energy limitations. tion of the total v for defensive or
The achievable velocity change is offensive course changes5 .
  Table 1 describes the performance
m0
v = ve log of the basic ship engine types. Table 2
m1 lists the basic Eclipse Phase spaceship
where ve is the exhaust velocity (ve = properties.

3 Energy require- ship performance. A ship thruster re-


quires P = (1/2)m0 ve2 W of power,
ments where m0 is the mass flow in kilograms
Some estimates of the powers available
can5 The
be gained from core
Eclipse Phase considering
book (p. space-
283) suggests many ships burn a quarter to a third of
the reaction mass during the initial burn. In practice this is rather costly, as reaction mass
not used will make the trip longer and require extra reaction mass for the develeration burn.
Saving this much fuel is rational only if drastic course corrections may be needed, or the fuel
very cheap compared to the cost of arriving later. Many commercial ships likely retain very
low fuel margins, and may rely on tugships that help them slow down at the destination.

4
Table 2: Ship properties
Ship1 Size (m) Cross- Fully Empty Engine Total v Max Acceler. Max
section Loaded Mass type km/s accel- (m/s2 ) power
(m2 ) Mass (tons) eration
(tons) (Gs)
Destroyer 150x50x50 7,500 40,000 25,000 AM 800 0.2 1.96 800 GW

Fast 75x13x13 975 1,000 300 AM 1,600 0.2 1.96 20 GW


Courier

Bulk 150x25x252 3,750 90,000 4,500 Fusion 40 0.002 0.001964 9 GW


Carrier

Standard 150x25x253 3,750 / 10,000 4,500 Fusion 400 0.02 0.01964 10 GW


Trans- 12,000
port

Fighter 4.5x3x3 14 7 3 MH 11 3 29.46 16.8 MW

SCUM 300x70x70 24,000 180,000 80,000 Plasma / 80 / 400 0.003 / 0.02946 / 5.4 GW /
Barge fusion 0.015 0.1473 135 GW

LLOTV 25x16x16 400 450 26 HO 11 2 19.64 203 MW


HO HI

LLOTVO 25x16x16 400 450 26 HO 7 2 19.64 203 MW


HO LO

LLOTV 19x12.5x12.5 237.5 450 26 MH 17 2 19.64 720 MW


MH HI

LLOTV 19x12.5x12.5 237.5 450 26 MH 8 2 19.64 720 MW


MH LO

SLOTV 17x11x11 187 150 11 HO 11 2 19.64 67.5 MW


HO HI

SLOTV 17x11x11 187 150 11 HO 7 2 19.64 67.5 MW


HO LO

SLOTV 13x8.5x8.5 110.5 150 11 MH 17 2 19.64 240 MW


MH HI

SLOTV 13x8.5x8.5 110.5 150 11 MH 8 2 19.64 240 MW


MH LO

General 6x2.2x2 13.2 5.5 3 MH 3.6 0.1 0.982 0.44 MW


Explo-
ration
Vehicle
(GEV)

Missile4 1x0.1x0.1 0.1 0.02 0.002 MH 31 2005 1,964 3 GW


1 Abbreviations: AM = Antimatter, HI = HIgh velocity configuration, HO = Hydrogen-Oxygen chemical rocket, LLOTV = Large
Lander and Orbit Transfer Vehicle, LO = LOw velocity configuration, MH = Metallic Hydrogen rocket, SLOTV = Small Lander
and Orbit Transfer Vehicle.
2 Plus externally mounted cargo pods.
3 80 m wide and high with rotating booms fully extended.
4 Own design. Payload can be a small ( 1 kt) nuclear warhead, a 3 megaton antimatter warhead, kinetic impactor projectiles or
attack nanotechnology.
5 Short burst launch or evasion acceleration.

Table 3: Energy storage


Energy source Specific power Power density Specific energy Energy density
Fission 2.5 kW/kg 12.5 MW/m3
Fusion 200 kW/kg 1 GW/m3
Antimatter 372 kW/kg 1.86 GW/m3 4.5 PJ/kg 22.5 EJ/m3
Chemical fuels 10 MJ/kg 20 GJ/m3
Nuclear isomers 10 GJ/kg 100 TJ/m3

5
per second and ve is the reaction mass noticeable and vulnerable large radia-
speed. The thrust force F = m0 ve tor surfaces. The amount of available
produces an acceleration a = m0 ve /M weapon power is still going to be very
on the spacecraft (of mass M ). For large.
a given acceleration and reaction mass As shown below, there are good
speed the power is P = (1/2)M ave . tactical reasons for wanting to accel-
Expressed in terms of Isp , F = Isp m0 g erate quicker than allowed by fusion
(where g 9.82 m/s2 is the gravita- or antimatter drives. This can be
tional acceleration at Earths suface) achieved by using high g-thrusters such
a = gIsp m0 /M , m0 = aM/gIsp , and as metallic hydrogen: while the main
P = (1/2)gaM Isp . engines aim at a very high exhaust ve-
This allows us to estimate the locity to keep reaction mass require-
power requirements of spacecraft if ments down while achieving a high v,
we know their mass. Consider a these engines are intended to use low
fusion-powered spacecraft. It has a = velocity reaction mass to make a few
0.05G 0.5 m/s2 , Isp = 100, 000 s. brief but strong changes in ship veloc-
A fully loaded bulk carrier with total ity. The total v is negligble since
mass 90 106 kg will hence require an they cannot be sustained for long, but
output of 9 GW during full thrust, an they allow rapid evasive maneouvers.
energy output of 100 W per kg of ship Also, main engines can in some cases
mass. In practice bulk carriers likely be supplied with more reaction mass
sacrifice exhaust velocity and power than normal to produce short bursts
for economy, so the output will be far of acceleration.
below this level. Antimatter-powered
ships produce comparable energy out-
3.1 Reactor sizes
puts (at least in terms of propulsion,
since the mechanism is relatively simi- What is the size of capital ship re-
lar). The Destroyer, weighing 40,000 actors? For fission reactors the spe-
tons, implies a reactor power of 800 cific mass is around 40 kg/kW, al-
GW. though advanced vapor core reactors
As a comparision with existing might go down to 0.4 kg/kW. Accord-
technology, a Nimitz-class aircraft car- ing to R.W. Bussard6 the fusion reac-
rier produces 190 MW and a major nu- tor specific mass could be 0.05 kg/kW.
clear power plant can reach 8 GW. It For the transports 10 GW reactor the
is probably safe to assume that large weight would be 500 tons.
ships have reactors that can produce The destroyer is antimatter pow-
power up to the terawatt range Most ered, and assuming the whole reactor is
of this energy is likely only available about the size of the containment sys-
for propulsion rather than powering tem we get a specific mass of 0.0025
weapons due to the problems of con- kg/kW for antimatter power.
verting it to electricity. There are also Assuming a density of the reactor
going to be efficiency losses leading to to be about 5000 kg/m3 a 10 GW fu-
large amounts of waste heat. Assum- sion reactor would be 100 cubic meters,
ing 90% efficiency still requires hun- or a 4.6 4.6 4.6 cube. In practice
dreds of gigawatts of cooling. Hence the reactor will be far more extended,
warships are unlikely to use their re- since these estimates mainly deal with
actors at full power during battle, in the core. Containment, control, cool-
order to avoid having to unfold very ing systems etc. will probably be at
6 http://www.askmar.com/Fusion_files/FusionElectricPropulsion.pdf

6
least ten times as large (but also of beam weapon. At distance d, assuming
lower density). Similarly, older reac- the exhaust radiates spherically, the in-
tors will also be much larger. cident energy is (1 )P/4d2 W/m2 .
It should be noted that small vehi- In this case it is 25 MW/m2 at one kilo-
cles like fighters and missiles likely use meter distance, enough to vaporise the
other energy sources. An antimatter- surface of steel7 . This is why cooling is
powered 1 ton reactor could provide up so essential for accelerating spaceships.
to 370 MW of power, but for maxi- Jons law: Any propulsion system
mal acceleration various chemical fu- powerful enough to be interesting, is
els (such as burning metallic hydro- powerful enough to be a weapon.
gen) would be more effective. Given
the available technology high energy-
3.3 Cooling
storage densities are possible, proba-
bly on the order of 10 MJ/kg (corre- A key problem for all spacecraft with
sponding to computed explosives such high power is cooling since space is a
as dinitroacetylene, octanitrocubane perfect thermal insulator. While some
and octaazacubane and still smaller engines (metallic hydrogen, fusion, an-
than lithium-fluorine combustion). For timatter) carry away a sizeable frac-
even higher densities nuclear isomer tion of the power as heat in the ex-
storage might be possible. haust, most ship power plants will pro-
This table sums up the above con- duce vast amounts of waste heat that
siderations. The specific power of must be removed8 . As a rough ap-
chemical fuels and nuclear isomers de- proximation, assuming 50% efficiency,
pends on the rate of reaction and can the same amount of power the reac-
in principle become very high when re- tor produces for the engines and other
leased explosively. forms of usable work is also produced
as waste heat. Radiators radiate waste
3.2 Exhaust temperature heat into space but have an upper ac-
ceptable temperature Tmax . This re-
A sizeable fraction of the energy out- quires a total radiator area larger than
put is going to be present as heat in the Arad = P/Tmax 4
where  is the emis-
expelled reaction mass. Rocket noz- sivity (likely chosen close to 1) and
zles of chemical rockets can achieve 60- = 5.67 108 W/m2 K4 is Stefan-
70% efficiency as heat engines convert- Boltzmanns constant.
ing heat into velocity. The remaining Using liquid lithium as a coolant
energy will largely be carried away by gives Tmax = 1600 K. For P =
reaction mass. If the efficiency is and 800GW Arad =2.15 million m2 , re-
the power is P , then the exhaust will quiring multi-kilometer fins (or droplet
have temperature radiators, where sheets of droplets of
Texhaust (1 )P/Cm0 molten metal are allowed to drift from
emitters to collectors). The fighter
where C denotes its specific heat ca- requires 45 m2 of radiators when us-
pacity in J/kg K. ing full power, not too different from
For the Destroyer, expelling 40 fighter plane wings. Using thermal
kg/s hydrogen at 60% efficiency conduction in 3000 K tungsten the
Texhaust = 560, 000 K. This is a hard fighter can reduce the radiator area to
UV source and not far from a particle 3.6 m2 .
7 http://panoptesv.com/SciFi/DamageAverage.html
8 There will also be separate radiators for cooling low-temperature sections of the ship such

as the life support system, but they are negligble compared to the main radiators.

7
In practice radiators of military Another cooling method is to heat
ships are foldable, fully used only coolant and dump it into space. Us-
when doing main accelerations and ing hydrogen 14.30 103 J per kilogram
completely folded back when in bat- and Kelvin can be removed10 . Heating
tle mode for maximum protection and metallic hydrogen to 10,000 K would
minimum emissions. Since most bat- remove 143 MJ per kilogram. As an
tles are very short this is usually just example, the 800 GW Destroyer would
a minor problem, but if the situation need to vaporize 2,797 kg/s for cool-
persists overheating begins to become ing. This is impractical for normal
an issue (see section on cooling and in- cooling, but acceptable during combat
ternal storage of heat). Damage that where radiators are not available (and
prevents full unfolding after a battle the detectable coolant emissions are
severely limits course changes. overshadowed by the main engines).
Calculations by Nemtos9 for more The fighter requires 0.06 kg/s (assum-
realistic tapering cooling fins find that ing 50% efficiency). It only got about
the total flux that can be radiated is 4 tons of MH fuel, so it gets just 18
(4/5)LT 4 where L is the width of hours of cooling even if it doesnt use
the fin. This gives a total mass of any hydrogen for propulsion.
L0 /3, where 0 = (8/5)L2 T 3 / Cooling through expelling coolants
is the thickness of the central con- is particularly useful for cooling lasers
densing channel, is the density and and railgun weapons during battle, es-
is the thermal conductivity of the pecially if they are disposable. It is
fin material. Using liquid potassium worth remembering that if you need X
as coolant (T = 1000 K), pyrolytic Joules to harm your enemys ship you
graphite ( = 400 W/m, = 2200 will have to dissipate X(1 ) Joule of
kg/m3 ) as a heat conductor and white heat at home, where is the conversion
ceramic ( = 0.95) as a surface mate- efficiency of the weapon.
rial allows radiating away 43 kW/m2 .
Smaller fins were much more efficient
in terms of energy release per weight
but require more extended pipe sys-
tems since they need to be extended
further out.
Liquid droplet radiators were es-
timated to require about 50% of the
cooling fin mass. Since the droplets
loose energy faster when they are hot
it is more effective to build compact
radiators with a flight time around a
second. Given some of the limitations
of droplets screening each other it was
concluded that it could radiate away
20 kW/m2 when using liquid tin at
T = 1000 K. Droplet radiators are
hence preferable over cooling fins when
mass budgets are an issue, such as in
small ships.
9 http://nemtos.ouvaton.org/techfiles/Cooling_Systems.pdf
10 I am ignoring the complications of different thermal capacity at different temperature
here.

8
4 Detection For sensors with very low noise,
a dark sky background and a rela-
Detection of enemy spacecraft and as- tively bright source the S/N ratio is

sets is of central importance. Unlike F t. The time needed to reach a use-
on a planet there is no intervening ma- ful S/N is on the order of 1/F sec-
terial that blocks radiation emissions, onds. If the sensor looks for pho-
but the sheer volume of space compli- tons of wavelengths in an interval
cates things. There are often tradeoffs (its bandwidth), has a collecting ra-
between how wide part of the sky can dius r and the source has a flux of
be scanned, how exact positions can be Fs photons/m2 / m/s then the time
determined and the time it takes. is on the order of 1/Fs r2 . As r
increases the sensor can tell whether
4.1 Sensors there is something there faster.

Passive sensor systems collect energy As an example, for infrared light


from particular directions, sum the to- = 1 m (most sensitive to a 3000
tal energy and try to tell whether there K body), a bandwidth of = 1 m
is a statistically significant difference (a broadband sensor) and radius r = 1
from the background. m the sensor needs about 300,000 pho-
The signal to noise ratio (S/N ) for tons in order to detect the target in one
a sensor collecting photons such as a second.
CCD sensor is
If the sky background is significant
Ft compared to detector noise, then the
S/N = p
2 n needed scales as Bn /F 2 . This
time
(F t + Bnp t + Bt np + Dnp t + R p p
tends to scale as 1/r2 for large tar-
where F is the average photon flux gets and 1/r4 for targets so small they
from the source (photons per second are limited by diffraction: larger pho-
per square meter), t is the time inter- ton collectors are significantly faster.
val of the measurement, B is the flux Typical backround sky fluxes in the so-
per pixel per second from the sky back- lar system are between 109 106
ground, Bt is the flux per pixel from Watt/m2 per steradian in the mi-
the telescope itself, D is the dark cur- crowave to UV range of interest to
rent flux (due to the CCD array itself), spacecraft detection12 . For lukewarm
R is the readout noise per pixel and np (300 K) objects the heat radiation in
is the number of pixels11 . Typically the zodiacal light is the main confusing
useful observations begin to be possi- factor, while hotter (3,000 K) objects
ble at S/N > 5, although guessing that are confused by the background of re-
something might be there is possible at flected sublight, faint stars and galactic
S/N = 2 or 3 (but estimates of energy cirrus. In order to be visible against
and other properties will have 50% er- the backround the flux density from
rors). In Eclipse Phase sensors can be the target needs to be above 12,000 -
assumed to be nearly perfect - B,Bt ,D, 3 108 photons per square meter at the
and R are small, and every photon is detector. [develop!]
caught and turned into a measurable
electron. The time it takes to achieve a given
11 http://www.physics.mq.edu.au/current/undergraduate/units/ASTR278/10_ASTR278_

JL_5_Sensitivity.pdf See also The Design and Construction of Large Optical Telescopes,
ed. Pierre Y. Bely, Springer 2003
12 Ch. Leinert, S. Bowyer et. al. The 1997 reference of diffuse night sky brightness, Astron.

Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 127, 1-99 (1998)

9
S/N is fighter at 1 kW. These limits can prob-
  ably be pushed for short spans, espe-
2 1 B
cially by using heating internal cooling
tdetect= (S/N ) 1+
F F reserves (see below). The internal en-
The Planck radiation law gives that a vironment will also be maintained at
spherical object of radius r and tem- a temperature around 300 K through
perature T at distance R will produce heating or cooling, and this will likely
a spectral flux of contribute to a harder to shield surface
 r 2 temperature.
2c
F = 4 hc/kT
(e 1) R
4.3 Exhaust emissions
wavelength photons per square me-
ter (here I assume is small enough; An accelerating ship will be leaving a
for broadband detectors F needs to long trail of energetic hydrogen, chem-
be integrated over all sampled wave- ical exhaust or plasma behind it, and
lengths). If there are several parts this will have detectable black-body ra-
of the object of different temperature diation. Even if the ship itself is per-
their spectral fluxes can be added to- fectly caumoflaged the thermal emis-
gether. Note that for best performance sion (and its doppler shift, allowing a
the detector needs to look at a small calculation of relative velocity to the
angle of the sky, since the background observer) will be detectable.
flux will grow with the angle. Exhaust temperatures go down as
In order to calculate whether detec-
tion is possible we need some estimates 1
Te (t) = p
of the thermal emissions of spaceships. 3
3A(t C)/K

where t is the time, A is the area of


4.2 Thermal emissions a one second parcel of exhaust, K is
A spacecraft or other object radiat- the thermal capacity of it (J/K kg)
ing at power P uniformly in all di- and C = K/AT03 is a constant set
rections will produce a total flux of so that at time 0 the temperature is
Ftot = P/4d2 W/m2 at distance d. the initial exhaust temperature T0 . For
A ship of temperature T and surface high temperature exhaust it is a good
area A will radiate AT 4 W of ther- approximation to treat it as releasing
mal radiation, or Ftot = AT 4 /4d2 . nearly all its energy instantly at tem-
Typically a ship on full power will perature T0 . This tends to dominate
have extended radiators at tempera- other radiation sources, especially for
ture Tmax (and enough area to handle short-wavelength emissions.
the power). For reasonable Tmax be-
tween 1,000 and 3,000 K the peak flux 4.4 Sunlight
is between 1-3 m IR radiation.
A ship that is merely coasting will Internal heat becomes dominant
have an energy output much below roughly around the orbit of jupiter.
these levels, but still significant. Each Inside that orbit reflected sunlight is a
biomorph onboard produces around significant source of radiation of total
100 W, not to mention life support. A power P = SA/R2 W at solar distance
rough guess at the energy dissipation of R AU, sunward ship area A and so-
is about 1 kW per crew member. This lar constant S = 1.366 103 W. If the
would put the Destroyer minimal en- ship or object has albedo it will re-
ergy dissipation at 9 104 W and the flect Pref lect = SA/R2 W, which is

10
can be very visible. The reflected sun- As an example, the WMAP satel-
light might however be made highly lite has a 52.8 arcminute beam size
directional, for example by placing a from its 2.24 m2 sensors: this corre-
plane mirror in front of the object. sponds to 1 part in 67,827 of the entire
The absorbed sunlight, Pabsorb = sky. If it were to make a quick one sec-
(1 )SA/R2 kW, will turn into heat ond scan of each part it would need 18
that is emitted largely homogeneously. hours to do a full sky scan.
The resulting temperature due to the For a large ship in Eclipse Phase af-
absorbtion (assuming equilibrium and fixing a few square meter size sensors
a spherical object of radius r) will be does not appear to be a major problem;
assuming 1% of the ship surface is used
 1/4 for sensors would allow the Destroyer
S(1 )
T = to have 75 m2 sensors and the fighter
4R2
0.14 m2 . If we assume 8 sensors on
where  is the emissivity (typically the Destroyer (one scanning each oc-
close to 1 for dark bodies and down to tant of sky) they would have a 9.4 m2
0.02 for polished silver). In Earth orbit area each. These would be the high
for a high reflectivity object with = sensitivity deep scan sensors: in direct
0.9999 with low emissivity  = 0.02 the battle more numerous, disposable sen-
equilibrium temperature is 74 K. For a sors would be deployed for point de-
shiny metal object with  = 0.75 and fense control against incoming missiles.
= 0.9 T = 168 K. Full sky scans at long distance do
Inner system civilian spaceships not have to be instant. Assuming a full
and equipment are often made white or sky scan takes an hour, standard trans-
reflective to keep solar heating down, ports can move 1,400,000 km, destroy-
while outer system ships can be any ers 2,900,000 km, fighters 40,000 km,
color they like. Military ships will have fast couriers 5,800,000 km and missiles
reflective mirrors and dark, absorbent 110,000 km. This is more than enough
coloring in order to be stealthy during to detect them before they can get
certain phases of battle. close. Once detected sensors can track
them more intently, estimating their
true speed, course and other proper-
4.5 Sensor sizes and sky ties.
scanning A sensor covering one octant of the
sky in one hour will watch 0.000436
Ideally sensors should cover the entire steradians of sky per second, a field of
sky and watch continously, but they view of about 1.2 degrees side.
are limited by the conflicting demands One issue is detecting that some-
of having large apertures that can thing is an interesting target and not
collect many photons (a large light just random debris, a space habitat or
bucket), a narrow angular field of a remote star. A first step is to com-
view to avoid too much background pare the position with a detailed ob-
noise and the physical practicalities of ject catalogue, which allows the sensor
where to attach sensors to spacecraft. to ignore all known objects. The next
For habitats and defense systems it is step is to compare the spectrum to pos-
possible to put large numbers of big sible ship profiles. Active spaceships
sensors in place covering most of the have different emissions from debris -
sky, but a spacecraft and in particular infrared from internal energy produc-
a mobile asset such as a missile will not tion, short wavelength emissions from
have much space. the drive, hot radiators, doppler effect

11
from high velocity etc. The scanner Manned ships can be detected over
will distribute its scanning time be- interplanetary distances using an IR
tween investigating objects of interest sky scan that takes one hour. Typi-
at length and jumping past empty or cally ships have a characteristic multi-
blocked directions. temperature spectrum: one peak for
the hot engine exhaust, one for the ra-
4.6 Ship spectra and de- diators, one for the reflected sunlight.
Reflected sunlight and the radia-
tectability distance
tors are the biggest contributions: a
Putting the above considerations to- ship that has folded most of the radia-
gether, we get the following approxi- tors, reflects away sunlight with a mir-
mate fluxes from the ships of Eclipse ror, powered down to a minimal level
Phase. and cooled the surface to a few Kelvin
I here assume the target ship is 1 is significantly harder to detect. The
AU from the sun, 1 AU from the detec- Destroyer is just barely detectable at
tor, has albedo 0.5, that the radiators 0.09 AU distance (13,000,000 km) in
are fully extended and the ship is accel- this case, and the fighter at 60,000 km.
erating maximally. The emissions con- This means that stealth can be prof-
sist of thermal emissions from the radi- itable, at least in the light of cloud
ators, emissions from the ship (largely combat: a silent approach allows a
due to absorbed sunlight), emissions surprise launch of attack assets in a
from the exhaust and reflected sun- cloud large enough to be hard to evade
light. The sensor is assumed to be a for the enemy. The fighter is not
0.000436 steradian sensor with 1 m2 quite stealthy enough to reach a target
area, bandwidth 1 and desired S/N = without being discovered, but it has a
5. Background noise is assumed to be chance to close to a very short range
10 6 W/m2 sr. and launch a barrage of missiles.

4.7 Scanning limitations blind backwards due to the exhaust


cloud. The blind angle is determined
These estimates assume overload-free by how fast hot particles from the ex-
surroundings. As soon as the bul- haust spread laterally relative to how
lets start to fly any sensors this sensi- fast they move backwards.
tive will be blinded (quite possibly de- p It is a
few times13 = 2 arctan( kT /mve2 )
stroyed) if they look anywhere close to where T is the exhaust temperature, m
detonations. the mass of the exhaust particles and
Note that not all directions are ve the average exhaust speed. For for
available for scanning: thermal sensors a hydrogen-oxygen engine at 3000 K
pointing at the sun or nearby plan- with ve = 450, 000 m/s 0.3 while
ets will be blinded. In deep space for an antimatter rocket with a million
this is a minor problem, but in the K hydrogen plasma moving back at 108
vicinity of planets distributed sensors m/s 0.1 . Hence the blind angle
are necessary to keep watch over local is a few degrees across.
space. The number of objects is also
far larger, turning scanning into more Sensors must also be placed so they
of a pattern recognition problem than are not blinded by unfolded radiator
a detection problem. fins. These cover a far larger part
A ship that is accelerating is mostly of the sky but can be avoided by for
13 Since the Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution extends beyond its average value.

12
Figure 1: Quanta received by a 1 m2 sensor at 1 AU from different ship types at
full acceleration. The red line is the zodiacal light background, giving a rough
estimate of the noise.

Figure 2: Time until a 1 m2 sensor at 1 AU can confidently detect different ship


types at full acceleration. The red line is 1 second scanning time.

13
example placing sensors at their ends be 1,000 K.
(gaining parallax information in addi- The only thing making them hard
tion). to see is their small area. Assuming
the visible area is 10x10 cm, then
they can be detected 4,487,940 km [
4.8 Particle emissions check, update - old equation instead
Antimatter annihilation does not just gives 13.4*0.1*500 = 670 km away.
produce the desired gamma photons, That gives you 67, 6.7 or 0.67 seconds
they also produce pions and muons to point defence them. At least for
that decay while radiating neutrinos. projectiles slower than 100 km/s this
Fusion reactors also produce neutrinos is pretty OK for the defender. ]
for some fusion reactions (pure helium current railguns have plasma
3 reactions avoid it, but reactions with flashes 23,000-35,000 K, blackbody ra-
hydrogen may release neutrinos). This diation 1.6-8.1 MW/cm2
means that even if a ship hides its
plasma tail it will radiate a neutrino
4.10 Active sensors
signature. Given Eclipse Phase tech-
nology such as emergency farcasters we Active sensors are a dead give-away
know that neutrinos can be detected of where you are (unless they man-
over interplanetary distances. How- age to mimic natural EM activity),
ever, it may be hard to get a good posi- but the sensors can be put on an ex-
tion from neutrinos, so the enemy will pendable buoy (and triangulation of
just know there is an active antimatter targets from dispersed sensors is sig-
reactor somewhere. Note that muon nificantly more accurate). Stealthing
detectors would be effective at detect- against radar/twave/lidar/Xdar on all
ing active antimatter annihilation over wavelengths is not going to be practi-
distances of a few kilometers, helping cal.
missiles to zoom in on active antimat- Unfortunately active sensors have
ter reactors. a shorter range than passive sensors
since the radiation emitted decreases
4.9 Railgun projectiles as the square of the distance and then
the reflected radiation also decreases
Railgun projectiles can in principle with the square of the distance, giv-
be detected by their heat emissions. ing a return signal that scales like
When accelerating a projectile to ve- 1/d4 . In order to double the range the
locity v, (1/2)mv 2 J of work is done. power has to be increased 16-fold. The
A fraction f ( 1 but > 0) of this radar equation describes the limiting
will turn into heat. The temperature distance where an active sensor can de-
becomes T = (1/2)f v 2 /C, where C is tect a target:
specific heat capacity ( 500 J/kg K
1/4
PS G2 2

for metal). If f = 1% and v = 10
km/s, the result is bright 1,000 K pro- dradar =
64 3 Pm
jectiles. For v = 100 km/s f must
be much less, since otherwise the pro- where PS is the power emitted, G is
jectile would be a vaporized mess. If the antenna gain, is the wavelength
f = 104 the faster projectile will also used, is the radar cross section of the
14 A way around this is to use bistatic radar, where the signal emitter and receivers are in

different locations: sensors close to the target will receive a stronger signal. This requires that
the sensor cloud is at least as large as the basic radar range to work.
15 http://www.fas.org/spp/military/program/track/pavepaws.htm

14
target and Pm is the minimum received It is generally not possible to stealth
power that can be detected14 . against all frequencies, so if the en-
A current missile and satellite emy uses the wrong sensors the invis-
tracking system like PAVE PAWS15 ible object will be obvious. Some mil-
uses a peak power of 582 kW, a fre- itary ships can reconfigure the surface
quency of 420 Mhz ( = 1.4 m) and metamaterials to adapt to expected
has a range of 5500 km. Scaling it opponent strategies but the process is
up to a 1 GW radar would increase the not instantaneous, taking minutes to
range about 6-fold, to 35,000 km. Note hours.
that shorter wavelengths have shorter
ranges: a teraherz version would have 4.11.1 Anisotropic radiation
a range of just 113 km, while one using
30 kHz would have a range of 650,000 Averaged over time the total power ra-
km. diated by an object must equal the to-
While having a long range may ap- tal power generated. It is possible to
pear useful, it also includes more po- cool a ship surface (at an energy cost)
tential targets and more clutter. In and radiate the heat into particular di-
a space battle active sensors are more rections, and to store heat into tanks
useful for pinpointing nearby incoming for a while. However, these stealth
projectiles and direct defensive fire on methods have serious limitations.
them. A ship of power P that emits its
There is also a trade-off between power as a blackbody will have a sur-
range and resolution. The angular res- face temperature T = [P/A]1/4 where
olution is 1.22/L, making the kHz A is the total surface area. Using
radar useless for detecting direction. only a fraction f of this area increases
The range resolution is c/2B where the temperature of the hot surface by
B is the signal bandwidth, 1/. f 1/4 and the flux will be P/f W/m2 .
Shorter, more high frequency pulses [extend]
have higher bandwidth; a radar with 1
m range resolution needs a frequency 4.11.2 Cooling
in the 150MHz band. Point defense
radar needs very accurate position and Cooling the surface using a cold reser-
Doppler measurements and will hence voir at temperature TC has maximum
have a short range. theoretical efficiency = T /(T TC ).
The amount of work needed to reduce
the heat of the surface is W = Q
4.11 Stealth where W is the work if the heat
Reducing the profile of a ship or asset pump and Q = KT is the change
requires reducing emissions that can be of heat in the surface (K is the ther-
seen with passive sensors, and prevent- mal capacity). Putting this together
ing signals from active sensors from the energy cost of cooling from Thot to
bouncing back with revealing informa- Tcool is
tion. Z Thot
Stealthing against active sensors W = K T /(T TC )dT
works if you can absorb the signal T
 cool 
well enough or reflect it in a safe di-
 
Thot TC
rection, reducing the radar cross sec- = K TC ln + Thot Tcold
Tcold TC )
tion. Thanks to metamaterials and ad-
vanced materials science this is often A typical spacecraft temperature in
possible - for particular frequencies. Earth orbit varies between 173 K and

15
393 K depending on light and shadow. case of a target at orthogonal distance
Using an average of Thot = 283 K d to a spaceship of length L with two
and cooling to Tcool = 3 K using a telescopes at the sides, 2L/d and
reservoir at TC = 1 K would take we get d 0.305d2 /DL2 .
W = K[2.15+280] J of energy. Assum- For a baseline of 100 m, looking at
ing a radius 20 meter spherical ship = 105 (300 K blackbody radiation),
with specific thermal capacity around D = 1 m and d = 10 km the uncer-
1 kJ/kgK, density 1.2 g/cm3 and that tainty in distance is about 3 mm. A
only the top cm need to be cooled, K target at 1000 km distance will how-
is about 60,000 and the total energy ever have uncertainty of 300 meters
cost for cooling down to stealth tem- and at 10,000 km the uncertainty is
perature is 17 MJ. more than 30 km - far too much for any
During stealth mode the power has useful targeting of even a ship-sized ob-
to be fed directly to the cooling tank. ject.
It will last for KC M/P seconds before Turning the formula around, as-
increasing in temperature by 1 Kelvin suming umax to be the maximum
(where KC is the specific thermal ca- acceptable distance uncertainty, the
pacity of the cooling substance, M the maximum range where targets can be
tank mass). Since TC is so low it will hit is
be enough for a few Kelvins of increase p
to get above the desired stealth tem- dparallax = L Dumax /0.305
perature Tcold (and the efficiency of
cooling drastically decreases). Using Note that increasing L increases
hydrogen, which has the best specific dmax proportionally: having sepa-
heat capacity KC 12 kJ/(gK) and rate sensors imaging the same target
P = 30 kW (power of a one-man he- from widely separated vantage points
licopter), the ship uses up 2.5 kg of greatly extends the range from which it
coolant per second. A one hour stealth could be hit. By using multiple sensors
episode would require 1,440 kg (21 m3 ) and data fusion this range can be im-
of coolant. Assuming a more energetic proved further to some degree. Larger
ship of P = 140 MW (Boeing 747) the telescopes and shorter wavelengths are
rate is 12,000 kg/s, and the above ra- much less effective.
dius 20 ship would at most (assuming
it to be entirely filled with coolant) last 4.13 Hiding from many
187 seconds. eyes
[cooling lasers are too inefficient
- compare heat capacities. Electro- If the enemy is known to be watch-
magentic thermal radiation has ef- ing from a particular direction it might
fective volumetric heat capacity of be possible to reduce detection prob-
32 5 k 4 T 3 /15(hc)3 . ] ability by carefully aligning a mirror
to hide the emissions of the ship (and
avoid reflecting other bright sources),
4.12 Parallax
avoid accelerations and use stealthing
Determining the position of something against active sensors. Similarly it is
in space will be dependent on resolv- sometimes possible to approach (or de-
ing its location. The resolving power part) from an observer along the direc-
of a telescope is = 1.22/D where tion towards the sun, planets, stars or
is the wavelength and D the diame- even hiding in the zodiacal light (as-
ter of the telescope. Parallax distance suming very low emissions; it has a
errors are d /2 . For the ideal power around 0.0005 W/m2 ).

16
However, as the parallax section the Brooks-Iyengar algorithm, which
shows, there is a great advantage in works up to N/3 faulty sensors). How-
having multiple sensors scattered over ever, the best algorithms also require
a long distance. If the sensors are a significant network bandwidth as each
distance L apart and the angular di- sensor needs to communicate with ev-
ameter of the background object is , ery other.
then the hiding ship must be more dis- [fake blackbodies] [metamaterials]
tant than [occultation probability] [directional
radiation] [changing direction]
dhide = (L/2) tan(/2 /2)

to hide from both. In the case of the 4.14 Spoofing and jamming
Sun in Earth orbit, for L = 100m
dhide =10.7 km, while a 10 km base- While correctly imitating the exhaust
line forces a hiding distance of more plume from an accelerating spacecraft
than 1,000 km. At Jovian distance is hard (the luminosity, spectrum and
the distances are about 5.2 times larger doppler shift need to match the orig-
and at Saturn 9.2 (as a rule of thumb, inal, and this requires essentially the
just multiply by the distance to the same engine and performance as the
sun in AU). Hiding in planetary light original) in the high-noise environment
is harder: using Venus or Jupiter to of a space battle it is likely possible to
mask an approach near Earth has a produce distracting or apparently sim-
dhide 300 km for 100 m baseline and ilar phenomena. This might mislead
a 30,000 km distance for a 10 km base- sensors, targeting systems or point de-
line. Using red giant stars will not fenses.
work within 400,000 km even for near- [spoofing doppler] [spoofing back-
sighted L = 100 m spaceships16 . ground] [confusing sensors]
Multisensor detection depends not It is easy to clutter radar and IR
just on failure to keep away from back- by releasing chaff that reflects signals
grounds that produce contrast, but strongly or in the right wavelengths.
also whether the sensor network can Exactly how well chaff works depends
detect a discrepancy and flag it as in- on the signal processing abilities of the
teresting. The larger the number of enemy.
sensors the higher chance one of them In particular, sensors are easily
will detect something interesting, but blinded by bright detonations or de-
at the same time the amount of data liberate scorch attacks with beam
to be processed and the number of er- weapons. This either permanently
rors will increase. If there are N sen- damages them or leaves them blind un-
sors and each has a probability p per til they recover. Having replacement
second of generating a false positive sensors that can be opened when the
(crying wolf) the probability per current one are down will be necessary,
second of avoiding false alarms will be but still introduces a short delay of ob-
just (1 p)N . In practice very sophis- servation. Assuming a fully functional
ticated data fusion algorithms can be C3I system one side can time closing
used to get robust estimates, handling sensor ports with the arrival of en-
faulty or even suborned sensors (c.f. ergy from their own detonations, giv-
16 Of course, the ship or object has to have an angular diameter much less than the back-

ground for this trick to have a chance.


17 As a simplistic example, sensors could be watching during even seconds and attacks timed

to occur during odd seconds. In practice the pattern would have to be pseudorandom and
take lightspeed delays into account.

17
ing itself an advantage. This is easier
with QE signalling, but even without
it some synchronization is possible17 .
[overwhelming point defenses with
large clouds of objects
If point defenses can drill X me-
ters of object per second, then attack-
ing with more than that (per second)
will allow a hit on the ship. ]

18
5 Weapons and their engines activated at a dis-
tance from the bus. The main use
The forms of weapons available for of a missile bus rather than individ-
ranged space battle are lasers, railguns, ually drifting missiles is that the bus
particle weapons, missiles and fighters. can be equipped with maximal stealth,
Nanoweapons can be included in rail- hopefully drifting close to a tactically
gun and missile payloads. important volume before releasing the
missiles18 (at the price of risking los-
ing all missiles to an unexpected at-
5.1 Independent weapon tack: some bus designs have an emer-
buses gency eject function that releases the
missiles prematurely if the bus comes
Weapons can either be placed on the
under attack).
ship, or on free-flying weapon buses.
[railguns in space can be made long]
Placing offensive assets outside the
[snap open phased arrays - since
ship has the advantage of allowing
disposable device, little need keep low
shots at closer range and without risk
profile after firing]
to the main ship, but also limits the
amount of energy they can provide
since they are too small to contain re- 5.2 Lasers
actors. [Expand, update]
Chemically stored energy is on the Laser weapons work by either heat-
order of 20 MJ/kg (20 GJ/m3 ) while ing a target to an unsustainable tem-
nuclear isomers could reach 10 GJ/kg perature (which requires a long lock
(100 TJ/m3 ). A volume V weapon on the same spot providing more than
with energy density and efficiency 108 W/m2 over a second or more), a
(likely < 0.5) will be able to fire rapid energy impulse causing a local
N = V /Eattack attacks of energy plasma detonation (requires on the or-
Eattack . The remaining (1 )V en- der of 1013 1014 W/m2 ) or drilling
ergy becomes waste heat; the resulting through the outer shell (requires an en-
temperature (T = (1 )/C where ergy density of LEeap W/m2 where L
C is the heat capacity in J/m3 ) of the is the desired drilling distance per sec-
weapon will scale proportional to the ond and Evap is the energy needed for
energy density of storage. Using large vaporisation per cubic meter).
amounts of energy makes the weapon
heat up significantly, making it hard to
5.2.1 Sources
hide (in addition to energy release from
orientation thrusters). Most weapons Laser beams can be generated using
are hence intended to fire just a single single laser cavities or phased arrays.
burst attack and then coast away on Laser cavities contain a gain medium
the recoil. where atoms, molecules or free elec-
Missile buses also have this disad- trons are placed in an excited energy
vantage, but to a lesser degree: mis- state and then stimulated to decay to
siles can be launched quietly from a a lower energy state, releasing electro-
stealthed bus using springs or cold gas magnetic waves that trigger other de-
18 There is some potential for game theory in whether to launch all missiles or leave one

as a surprise later launch. A revealed missile bus is easy to hit and hence has little value
to store a surprise in, but in a situation where long-range defenses are busy (since there are
approaching missiles) it would be a low priority target. This leads to a mixed strategy equilib-
rium where the missile side randomly leaves surprise missiles and the defender side randomly
decides whether to shoot at the worthless target.

19
cays and shoots out as a beam. This When firing a laser the ideal beam
is relatively simple but has the prob- width at the target is wopt = 2(v)d/c,
lem that to function the cavity needs the uncertainty in target lateral veloc-
to be resonant: the waves must be ity v times the lightspeed delay be-
able to bounce between the front and tween the target and laser (if there are
back to produce a resonance, and this QE-linked sensors shortening the de-
means the cavity itself will need to re- lay this is reduced further down to a
sist the laser power. Worse, putting minimum of (v)d/c). If the velocity
the medium into an excited state in- measurement is perfect there is still a
volve big energy losses that also heats v < 2ad/c due to unknown accelera-
the medium. Hence large amounts of tions since last observations (with QE
cooling are needed. the factor 2 approaches 1). So the op-
Phased arrays make use of many timal beam width will be
smaller lasers or antennas, producing a
wopt = 2(v)d/c + 4ad2 /c2
beam by combining many small com-
ponents accurately. For lasers phased However, close to the laser the
arrays need to be manufactured using actual beam width will be limited
nanotech metamaterials. by the focal width of the beam,
giving a beam width at the tar-
5.2.2 Beam optics get of min(wopt , 2d/L. The dis-
tance beyond which velocity uncer-
(Gaussian) laser beams have a diver- taity dominates is d = (c2 /2aL)
gence angle of /w0 where is the (c(v)/2a). Typically this depends
wavelength and w0 its smallest width. on the beam wavelength, with IR
If the laser is produced by a lens lasers being uncertainty-limited and
of width L it will produce a spot UV lasers diffraction-limited over com-
size at distance d w = d/2L and bat distances.
with intensity P L2 /2 d2 W/m2 if Now, this suggests another reason
P is the total beam power. Short- you dont want to fight close to planets:
wavelength lasers remain sharp over stationary defence stations can easily
longer distances than long-wavelength set up pretty big phase array lasers,
lasers, and in space it is possible to go and then they can blast you very well.
all the way down the the vacuum fre- Ships could in principle unfold big ar-
quencies of UV around 108 m that rays too, but I expect it is hard to both
are strongly absorbed by air and other power them and keep them accurately
matter. Large lenses allow tightly fo- pointed while dodging incoming lasers,
cused beams. However, with the nan- projectiles and missiles.
otechnology available in Eclipse Phase This kind of laser arrays still have
phased array lasers are possible: many the problem that if you are uncertain
small elements producing parts of the of exactly where the enemy is (and we
beam, possibly focusing it closer to the are talking about meters here) you will
source if needed (this also allows higher miss him. So my previous calculations
power densities at the target than at still apply - the Titan moon lasers can
the source, always a nice thing for a vaporize nearly anything, but if you
weapon). With a size L array focused are more than a few thousand kilome-
on the distance d target the focal width tres from a sensor that pinpoints you
is w0 = 2d/L and the length of the and flying evasively, they will not be
focal region is L2 /42 . able to hit you.
[example, showing that the region [Energy requirements, size require-
is usually long] ments, range]

20
[calc neergy needed for 1 m pene- If the vaporization energy per kg
tration - kills smaller ships, scale up is Evap , in time tp it can vaporize to a
10 to hurt big ships] depth z = P tp /pir2 rhoEvap (assuming
[cycling time] [flash cooling] a td tp << z - otherwise the movement
of the target will prevent drilling) If a
5.2.3 Heating beams certain depth z is required for doing
useful damage, this leads to the condi-
A beam pulse of length tp that has a tion r2 > t [P/pirhoE z]
p vap
circular radial spread at the target r Diagram of r tp plane for fixed
arrives after a delay td from observa- intensity r must be larger than diffrac-
tion. During this time the target has tion limit r must be smaller than limit
accelerated with acceleration a, hav- of damaging power t limited by heat-
p
ing an unknown relative velocity atd , ing of array - too fast gets too hot t
p
which will have become a(td + tp ) at limited by equilibrium temperature
the end of the pulse. Assuming the r2 << P/piatd rhoEvap - drilling
beam hits, it will move across the sur- ability r2 > t [P/pirhoE z] - able to
p vap
face since the firing system is not prop- get to damage depth
erly taking the unknown components constraint due to targeting
of target motion into account. The to-
tal area heated will be r2 + 2ra(td +
tp ). 5.2.4 Explosive beams
The velocity smear will reduce the A very high power does damage not by
heating, and preclude damage if the heating the target but by vaporising
area is more than K times the in- the surface layer, creating a pressure
tended. This gives the requirement wave fed by the beam.
td + tp < (K 1)r/2a
5.3 Railguns
.
An 1 m2 object that of mass M Rick Robinsons First Law of Space
and specific thermal capacity K that is Combat: An object impacting at 3
heated by power P Watt/s for tp sec- km/sec delivers kinetic energy equal to
onds will reach temperature P tp /M K its mass in TNT.
if it cannot radiate away the heat. Railgun projectile speeds: cur-
The time needed to reach a damag- rently a few kilometers per second,
ing temperature Td am is roughly tp = comparable to normal inter-spacecraft
M KTd am/P shorter pulse lengths re- velocity differences (even running into
quire proportionally higher power, up a stationary pebble will do signif-
to the limits set by the firing array. icant damage to a ship). It is plausi-
In reality the target will reach an ble that in Eclipse Phase ship-launched
equilibrium temperature where the in- railgun projectiles will be significantly
flux equals the thermal radiation. P = faster, between 10 and 1000 km/s.
T 4 Te q = [P/]1/4 If Te q is too low Railgun projectiles need to be tens or
there will not be any real damage. The hundreds of km/s in order to hit flee-
required power is P > Td am4 (per ing ships, but can often move more
square meter). leisurely.
A rough calculation of the time The kinetic energy from a 10 km/s
needed to reach this temperature is 1 kg impact is 50 MJ. At this point the
Te q = P tp /M K tp = M K[1/P 3 ]1/4 kinetic energy starts to become bigger
tp needs to be shorter than this in or- than any (chemically) explosive force
der to avoid large energy losses. that can put in the projectile. 100

21
km/s is 5 GJ (about one ton of TNT) Unlike lasers they are hard to fo-
and 1000 km/s projectiles release 500 cus and will tend to disperse over long
GJ (100 tons of TNT). distances. Beam divergence anglesp are
A railgun projectile of mass m mov- on the order of = 4.5 108 T /Z
ing at speed v takes (1/2)mv 2 / J to where T is the beam temperature and
launch at efficiency . Conversely, with Z is the atomic number of the beam
an energy
p E the projectile gets velocity particles19 . If a beam power P and
v = 2E/m. initial radius r is directed at a tar-
multi-barrel railguns can be made get at distance
p d the intensity will be
shorter 6 km/s, 20000 G accel, 100 P/4(r + k T /Z)2 P Z/4k 2 T d2
kg projectile 90 m, 4 barrels, tempera- W/m2 . The halving distance (where
ture increase 450 K sleeve thickness 10 the energy per square meter has de-
mm, sleve radius 0.09 m, outside ra- clined to half) for a proton beam (Z =
dius 0.07m 1) is 280 km, for a mercury ion beam
They will penetrate to a distance 2,500 km.
about equal to the projectile length [check this, compare destroyer en-
times the ratio of projectile to armour gine]
density (Newtons penetration law). [Energy requirements, size require-
This is actually a problem: the at- ments, range]
tacker wants to deposit all the energy
inside the ship, so they must tune the
5.5 Missiles
projectile length to the target armour.
Too heavy projectiles will go straight Missiles can presumably accelerate at
through the ship. Sometimes having least a few 100 G.
no armour at all is the optimal strat- missiles that burst into clouds of
egy (just hope they do not hit any an- shrapnel as they approach or if hurt
timatter containers). Too light projec-[calc velocity needed to cover target]
tiles and all energy gets deposited out- number of fragments that can be
side the armour. [Merge with armor zapped on approach
section discussing this?] [calc saturation with how many
[Energy requirements, size require-meters laser point defenses can burn
ments, range] through - indicates how many missiles
can be shot down per second and what
the overwhelming number is]
5.4 Particle weapons
can act as vector denial system
Particle weapons produce beams of [Energy requirements, size require-
heavy relativistic particles. Given ments, range]
the existence of personal particle
beams and fusion engines (which are 5.5.1 Kinetic impactor rods
essentially propelling proton-electron
plasma in a beam) larger particle beam Kinetic missiles are little more than
weapons are plausible. The advan- mines, making use of ship delta v
tage of particle beams is that they rather than their own acceleration.
deposit their energy deeper into the Missiles typically have small delta v (a
target, producing a stronger detona- few km/s), but this is enough to do se-
tion and depositing Bremsstrahlung rious damage.
and secondary particles into sensitive either straight - armor piercing
nanosystems. sideways - higher imact area, good for
19 http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x1.html#particle

22
weakly armored targets usually built so In order to exceed 20 Grays (immedi-
that a hit disperses rods ate disorientation) the ship needs to be
closer than
5.5.2 Nukes and antimatter
drkill = 9433 x
Both nuclear warheads and antimatter
have roughly the same effect: a mas- m. This does not take radiation pro-
sive release of gamma rays (and some tection from the spaceship into ac-
particles, especially from enhanced ra- count: if the ship armor absorbs a
diation warheads), with a small ex- fraction fX of x-rays and fn of neu-
panding cloud of plasma. The kinetic trons the distance changes
to drkill =
impact, heat blast and EMP that oc- max(9433 f x x, 6000 f n x) m. For a
curs in planetary environments is ab- ship with 5 cm of steel and 5 cm car-
sent making the kill radius small, on bon in the hull f x 0.62 fn
and
22
the order of kilometers. A high preci- 0.85 , giving d rkill = 7428 x (still
sion hit is hence required. dominated by the x-ray damage in this
case).
An x kt detonation provides an en-
Using nuclear shaped charges
ergy of 4.19 1012 x/4d2 W/m2 at dis-
(Casaba-Howitzer) jets of plasma
tance d in about a microsecond. In or-
travelling at 10,000 km/s can be gen-
der to produce impulsive shock dam-
erated, transmitting up to 5% of the
age (the vaporisation of material moves
total energy of the detonation as ki-
faster than the speed of sound in the
netic energy in a cone with half-angle
material) on the order of 1013 to 1014
0.1 radians23 . Assuming it can be di-
W/m2 is required, producing a minus-
rected accurately at the target, this
cule kinetic kill distance of
would have a

dkkill = 5.77 x
dkkill = 667 x
meters. The most likely effect is to meters and (unshielded) radiation kill
melt part of the facing surfaces, pos- out to
sibly vaporising a thin layer. This may

or may not be disabling. drkill = 21, 000 x
However, the amount of particles
is likely enough to kill biomorphs and m. Since the beam diameter is 0.2d m,
sensitive nanotechnology at a longer it has a fairly broad cross-section for
distance. Using the loose estimates in hitting a spaceship.
Nuclear Rocket20 a conventional nu- Nuclear warheads have the advan-
clear weapon produce an X-ray flu- tage of guaranteed stability, but anti-
ence of 2.6 1027 x/d2 and neutron flu- matter packs significantly more punch
ence of 1.8 1023 x/d2 , and a unshielded per weight. Theoretical limits on fu-
biomorph will receive a dose of 1.78 sion warhead mass are 1 kg per kilo-
109 x/d2 Grays acute x-ray dosage and ton (current warheads closer to 500 kg
7.2108 x/d2 Grays of neutron dosage21 . per kiloton). A warhead requires a 45
20 http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x1.html#nuke
21 Antimatter weapons would instead deliver nearly all energy as gamma rays.
P
22 f 2 i ti /vi , where the sum is over all materials, each with thickness t and
half-value
i
thickness vi for the relevant kind of radiation. This is at best an approximation since it
ignores the effects of secondary radiation, Bremsstrahlung from charged particles and other
complications.
23 Winterberg, Thermonuclear Physics, p.41, 122.
24 http://www.projectrho.com/rocket/rocket3x1.html#nuke

23
kg/kt missile with a volume of 0.036x 5.5.4 Relativistic missiles
m3 /kt (based on extrapolations from
More of a strategic weapon than a re-
the US trident missile24 ). Antimatter
alistic space battlefield weapon, rel-
warheads have 43 megaton yield per kg
ativistic missiles attempt to hit tar-
of mass, requiring 10 times the amount
gets at long distance using projectiles
of shielding. Using previous numbers
with a sizeable relativistic mass. Their
implies a missile mass of 0.01 kg/kt
main benefit is the impossibility of pro-
and 8 106 m3 /kt. So small chemi-
tecting oneself from them, since they
cal missiles are likely not possible, but
would not be detectable from the tar-
small antimatter candles might be
get until shortly before impact and
possible.
there is no way of stopping a very
Given the stability risks of antimat- large mass moving fast (it would pass
ter thermonuclear devices are likely through armor as per Newtons impact
preferred on ships not using antimatter law, and any effect that splinters it will
engines and not expecting significant not be able to make the fragments de-
combat. Antimatter warheads how- viate very far before it hits).
ever have the advantage that if point Fortunately, given the energy re-
defenses destroy them at close range quirements of launching relativistic
they will go off anyway, doing damage missiles launch is very visibile, and QE
the less volatile nuclear warheads will allows monitoring of possible launch
not do. sites giving information long before the
http://www.5596.org/cgi-bin/ missile reaches its target. There are
nuke.php has a nuclear effect calcula- also some doubts on whether relativis-
tor. tic missiles are feasible or not in Eclipse
Phase.

5.5.5 Leashes

5.5.3 Rocks A leash is a warhead that is attached


to the hull of the enemy ship, ready
to explode on command or if tam-
It is entirely feasible to boost small as- pered with. In principle just placing
teroids into orbits that will impact tar- a missile with a functioning warhead
gets. The upside is that the mass can on or near the ship works, but in prac-
be significant, the damage enormous, tice the extra reassurance from tam-
and the asteroid is hard to stop (es- perproofed antimatter containment is
pecially if equipped with some point preferred. Actually leashing a ship is
defenses). The downside that the im- quite a coup, and allows the leasher to
pact can usually be predicted weeks dictate terms to the leashed.
or months ahead. Rocks represent a
relatively minor threat to space habi-
5.5.6 Nanoweapons
tats and aerostats, which can be moved
out of the way. They represent a sig- Nanomachines encased in diamondoid
nificant threat to planetary or aster- shells can resist accelerations up to
oid habitats that are not defended by 108 1010 G, making delivery by high
defense arrays. However, since they velocity impactors possible if they can
would tie up the defense array (and be slowed just before impact. This can
produce fragments) as they get within for example be done by placing them
range they also provide an ideal time far back in a penetrating warheador
for a conventional attack. having an explosive charge accelerate

24
them in the opposite direction just be- systems similar to the ones implied in
fore impact. The main problem with the Fall and keeping a military edge.
nanoeweapons is that the amount that
can be transfered is relatively small
compared to the amount of defensive
nanosystems onboard (see section 7)
and that hives generally cannot survive
impacts. This makes direct attacks
using disassemblers weak. The main
nanoweapon payloads tend to be sab-
otage nanites or proteans constructing
a position tracking transmitter.

5.6 Fighters
essentially a roving missile bus

5.7 Networked warfare


Generally, I expect space battles to
involve extended networks of decoys,
drones, munitions, sensors and what-
not. The communications issues are
serious: I expect it to be worth the
money to use FTL quantum com-
munication to keep everything linked,
untraceable, fast and unjammable.
Qubits are a very strategic resource
(incidentally, I doubt they can be
stored without some very good nano
- bad news for the Jovians, who proba-
bly have to break a few rules to get it).
Primitive forces that have lightspeed-
limited networks are at a serious dis-
advantage, and must also ensure that
the enemy cannot detect *where* the
cloud sends its messages (OTP en-
crypted neutrino broadcasts in all di-
rections instead?)
Burnsides Zeroth Law of space
combat: Science fiction fans relate
more to human beings than to silicon
chips. While the polities of the so-
lar system have very good reasons not
to like AIs, AGIs and infomorphs con-
trolling weapon systems the military
benefits often outweigh these consider-
ations. On the strategic level there is
a tension between avoiding developing

25
6 Armor states that a projectile of length L
with density P impacting a target
If we assume that the cost of drive sys- with density A will penetrate to a
tems is large compared to the cost of depth L(P /A ). This is applicable
weapon systems, then it is clear that for hypervelocity impacts where mate-
warships will tend to be as protected as rial cohesion can be ignored. While
possible. This can be achieved through high density projectiles are possible
heavy armoring or making them able (osmium achieves 22610 kg/m3 , 2.9
to evade (through stealth, maneouver- times steel) just extending the projec-
abilityor point defenses) attacks. tile into a spear guarantees deep pen-
Armor needs to be able to han- etration. This will also tend to pene-
dle hypervelocity impacts and beam trate Whipple shields, since the desin-
weapons. tegrating parts will just make way for
more incoming spear.
6.1 Kinetic impact Heavy armor needs to be thicker
than spear projectiles unless it is signif-
Any impacts faster than a few km/s
icantly denser. This is hard to achieve
will produce inertial stresses much
across a whole ship since the mass be-
larger than the material strength (even
comes prohibitive: even a heavily ar-
for extremely hard materials like dia-
mored ship will just armor vital sys-
mond): for all practical purposes the
tems (reactor, cooling, antimatter con-
armor behaves like a liquid. This is
finement, possibly crew battlestations)
not just a military problem but also
and rely on redundant or repairable
an issue for any ship moving at orbital
systems elsewhere. Another approach
velocity, since impacts with microme-
is to use thick low-density shielding
teorites and other debris is potentially
in the form of water or reaction mass
dangerous (at speeds of 800 km/s 1
tanks that would anyway be present.
gram impacts correspond to explosions
A hit will destroy the compartment but
of 76 kg of TNT).
dissipate the energy.
One way to handle this is Whipple
shields: a relatively thin outer bumper Another approach is to have very
shield placed a distance from the wall light armor and allow projectiles to
of the spacecraft. The incoming par- pass through, relying on redundant
ticle will be shocked and may disin- ship systems to survive the damage
tegrate, spreading its energy across a and nanoswarms to repair it. How-
larger area of the inner wall. Shields ever, high velocity impacts turn into
can be stacked, further dispersing the rapidly expanding clouds of shrapnel.
energy, and the space between them A velocity v impactor of mass m will
filled with shock or radiation absorb- release 0.5mv 2 J of kinetic energy. If
ing material. They are light but in- all of it turns into kinetic energy of
crease the spacecraft size; some ships fragments (and assuming them to have
use unfoldable Whipple shields. The a Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution25 )
outer shields tend to be damaged by the average lateral
velocity of the frag-
micrometeors and conflict, but are ex- ments will be v/ 2, corresponding to
pendable and can be cheaply repaired a approx35 cone. Hence this strat-
afterwards. egy works best for very long and thin
Newtons law of impact depth ships, where little of the volume can be
25 There are m/mf fragments, where mf is the fragment mass. Each gets E = 0.5mf v 2
p
kinetic energy if it is divided evenly. The average speed in the lateral direction is E/mf ,
producing the above formula.

26
affected.

6.2 Beam impact


[ Flash damage, impulse kill, drilling
The energy needed to drill through an
object is within a factor 2 of the heat of
vaporisation of the object best vapor-
ization energy for mass carbon, 29.6
kJ/g (boron even better) des 5 g/cm2
(increase density?), burning a 1cm2
hole requires 148 kJ and 20 millisec-
onds combat conditions need larger
spot to remain focused - 10 cm2 spots
accepts uncertainty velocity 5 m/s ]

6.3 Conclusions
One approach is to add maximal ar-
mor, making the target hard to dam-
age. [how handle laser effects?]
Self-repair using nanomachines can
restore Whipple shields fairly rapidly
after a battle, but is too slow to mat-
ter during a battle.

27
7 General strategy differently well against different tar-
gets. The key point likely remains: the
The conflict between different mili- side that can manage to rapidly reduce
tary assets can be described using the the enemy assets early on has a large
Lanchester (square26 ) model: advantage.
Let B represent the number of as- In traditional warfare the side
sets of side blue and kb is the de- with smaller numbers can improve its
struction efficiency, how many enemy chances if it splits up into hard-to-find
assets one blue asset can neutralize per units and make local raids where it
unit of time. Let R and kr represent has numerical superiority27 . This is
the red side. The both sides will suf- hard to do in deep space combat, since
fer attrition like visibility is high, but an approxima-
tion is to use missile buses and fighters
B 0 = kr R to rapidly deploy local superior force
R0 = kb B when needed. In orbital warfare it is
easier to do guerilla tactics, mak-
Blue will win by attrition (i.e. reduce ing surprise ambushes and retreats into
R to 0) if kb B 2 > kr R2 . There is a size- unmonitored volumes.
able advantage in having more offen-
sive assets, bigger than merely lethal
assets. Concentrating forces so they
can focus their fire gives a big advan-
tage (but the concentration needs to be
diffuse enough so that no volume effect
weapons can strike at them, something
the model does not include). The side
with fewer assets still have a chance
of winning if they can make strikes
that disrupt the command and control
structure of the other side, for example
taking out the main communications
links (again outside the basic attrition
model).
In practice the Lanchester equa-
tions will be just a crude approxima-
tion, since there exist weapons that de-
stroy groups of enemies, some weapons
have synergistic effects (detonations
that temporarily blind enemy sensors
yet provide active sensor information
about enemy asset locations), there are
sensors and other assets that do not at-
tack yet are valid targets, and there are
different kinds of weapons that work
26 The name comes from the square in the winning criterion, the equations themselves are

linear. Ironically there are also the linear Lanchester model that describes conflicts where
the loss rate is proportional to the product of the force sizes (and hence forms a pair of nonlin-
ear equations). This model describes situations where combat occurs between pairs of units,
and here the advantage in number is reduced to a linear relation.
27 S.J. Deitchman, A Lanchester model of guerilla warfare, Operations Research 10:6, 818-

827

28
8 Cloud combat least vs (favoring rapid, possibly de-
tectable launches). However, the den-
Much of deep space battles occurs sity of assets in a wide cloud will
between distributed assets drifting be lower. If assets have a range
through space, forming two (or more) r and N assets are launched in the
clouds passing through each other at cloud, on average a ship will be within
multikilometer per second speed. If range of 3N r2 v 2 /4vs2 d2 assets if pass-
friendly assets have not cleared enough ing straight through the cloud. This
enemy assets ahead of the ship, it will favors a late and slower launch, pro-
likely be hit. ducing a denser cloud. If M assets
Assets can be made very low- within range are needed to achieve a
emission by cooling before launch, win, theypshould be launched within
mechanical low-energy launching distance 3N/4M (rv/rs ), but if the
(springs, slow railguns, even bola enemy is expected to have a high
launching), internal heat storage, low enough v budget earlier and sub-
emission electronics, being folded to- optimal launches are needed - much
gether and equipped with stealth cov- hinges on accurately estimating how
ering. This can also cause a hard-to much fuel the enemy can spend on eva-
detect change in ship velocity that sion and the performance of their en-
could grow into positional uncertainty gines.
before the battle.
A cloud launched at time T before 8.1 Weapons vs. sensors
combat at velocity vs will have radius
vs T . The passage through the cloud A cloud of density has average dis-
of a ship of velocity v takes 2vs T /v tance to the nearest asset < d >=
seconds. vs is presumably restricted k1/3 , where k 0.5622.
to less than 1 km/s if silent launch is If there is resources C to produce
used. If v = 10km/s and T = 1 day assets per unit volume, and sensors
the passage takes 4.8 hours, while for cost 1 and weapons x, C = s + xw
v = 100km/s passage takes 29 minutes where s is the sensor density and w
and for v = 400 km/s just 7 minutes. is the weapon density. Assumine a
However, after the first side has fraction f of the resources are used to
launched their cloud the other side can make weapons, w = f C and s =
choose to do a maneouver with v > ((1 f )/x)C. The average delay be-
vs , avoiding the cloud and being able tween a sensor detecting a target and
to launch a cloud of protective assets. a weapon has a chance to hit it is:
Obviously the first side can themselves "
1/3 1/3 1/3
#
change the velocity to make this cloud s + w w
t=k +
worthless, and so on. If continued this c v
turns it into a pure ship-to-ship bat-
tle. This is the preferred strategy for where v is the weapon velocity. The
a side with limited spaceborne assets middle term represents a delay as in-
and plenty of v to burn. formation is transmitted at lightspeed
If a ship moving with velocity v to the nearest weapon. If a QE link is
towards another ship launches an as- present it is zero.
set cloud spreading with velocity vs  1/3
(1 f )1/3 + f 1/3 f 1/3

1/3 x
when at distance d, the cloud will t = kC +
c v
have radius vs d/v when it reaches the
other ship. To evade it, the ship To minimize t the expression in the
needs to change its velocity by at bracket has to be minimal, leading to

29
the optimal weapons allocation the sphere the enemy is, but we will
assume it knows rmax (for example by
1
f= observations of past accelerations and
1 + (1 + c/v)3/4 x1/4 ship type).
If x is very low (cheap weapons) A projectile will hit anything along
most assets should be weapons. For its path through the sphere within its
weapons as costly as sensors 50% effective cross section (this includes
should be weapons if v  c while the area A of the ship and the radius rp
62% if they are lasers: a railgun or of the projectile, A+2 Arp ; if N
missile-based system will tend to have shots are optimally fired is multiplied
numerous weapons, hoping to be close by N ). This is equivalent to selecting
to a detected target. For more expen- a point on the cross-sectional disk seen
sive weapons a smaller fraction is opti- by the launching ship: the area of the
2
mal. disk is rmax , and an area will be af-
[check QE term, check other case] fected. The evading ship will attempt
to distribute its probability across the
disk uniformly29 ), so the probability of
9 Hitting a dodging hitting will be
enemy 2 4
phit = /rmax =
a2max d4 (1/c + 1/v)4
Suppose a vessel observes another ves-
sel at distance d and known velocity When phit  1 the evader has a good
and fires immediately with a projectile chance of avoiding a hit. While a high
with velocity v (v = c for a laser)28 . acceleration ability is useful, increasing
The time it will take for light from the distance has a far greater effect.
enemy to reach the vessel and for the The critical distance devasion where
projectile to reach the vicinity of the phit approaches unity is
enemy is
 1/4
4 1
t = d(1/c + 1/v) devasion =
amax (1/c + 1/v)
During this time the enemy will be ac-
Inside this distance the probability of
celerating with acceleration a < amax
hitting is large. The first term varies
in a random direction to escape a hit.
slowly with and is of the order unity.
After time t it has moved up to
For = 1 m2 it is 1.06, for = 100
rmax = (1/2)amax t 2 m2 it is 3.36 and for = 1000 m2
5.97.
and will be within a sphere of radius As an approximation, the enemy
rmax around the position it would have is possible to hit if d < devasion

had if it had not accelerated. The at- v/ amax for projectiles and if d <

tacking vessel does not know where in devasion c/2 amax for lasers. For
28 This is also equivalent to having a sensor and a weapon at equal distance d from the

target and a QE link between them.


29 Since otherwise the attacker could distribute their attack probability across the disk cor-

respondingly and increase the probability of a hit: a uniform distribution is a saddle-point


for the game. The direction in which to accelerate should obviously be p completely random.
The optimal probability distribution of radial distance is f (r) 1/ 1 (r/rmax )2 , since
this produces a uniform cross-section probability. However, if the evading ship does not know
when an incoming weapon arrives it cannot pre-calculate rmax (which is time dependent) and
might hence be distributing itself suboptimally. However, f (r) places most of its probability
weight at extreme r, so a good guess is to accelerate close to amax and change direction often.

30
a capital ship with amax = 0.1g 1
m/s2 lasers will start to have a chance
to hit at a distance of 150,000 km. Pro-
jectiles moving at 100 km/s will be-
come dangerous at 100 km distance (as
a loose rule of thumb, the critical dis-
tance corresponds to one second of pro-
jectile movement).
[Calculations for hitting fighters,
missiles and incoming projectiles.]
[The later have amax = 0, so they can
be hit (assuming low position and ve-
locity uncertainty) if there is enough
time to fire and disperse them]
[The FTL case - how big advantage
is it?]
In the situation where there is no
QE communications between sensor
and weapon, and the target, sensor and
weapon are at roughly equal distance
d the effective distance is increased by
50%. This means devasion is reduced to
2/3 for beam weapons, while projectile
weapons roughly retain their (short)
range. Hence low-tech forces will be
forced to get in closer, use denser asset
clouds, use more projectile weapons,
or combine sensor systems with their
weapons launchers.

31
10 Conclusions At some time before the battle
both sides begin launching assets: sen-
Putting together the results above sug- sors, positioning systems, weapons, de-
gests the following overall conclusions coys, interceptors and fighters. A quiet
about Eclipse Phase space combat: launch early enough is hard to detect
and allows the slow dispersion of hard
10.1 Deep space combat to detect assets over a large volume.
A problem is that too early launch
In deep space combat two ships pass will disperse them too widely, reduc-
each other far from any planets or ing their density in the combat volume
other objects. Generally encounters and making recovery hard or impos-
will occur with velocity differences at sible. A too late launch will guaran-
least several kilometers per second, tee a dense cloud that is easier to scan
sometimes far higher. Whether the and avoid. Many warships are little
ship with the largest potential v can more than engines carrying an assort-
get close to an escaping ship depends ment of disposable military equipment
on how much fuel they have left, the around. Since the engines are typically
initial distance and the initial velocity the largest and most expensive part de-
difference. In many cases ships will be stroying or neutralizing it tends to be
limited to relaying their observations the tactical goal. Even if the engine is
to homebase since they are unable to lost the assets can still fulfill a success-
close enough to attack and fulfill their ful attack, but they will not be able to
original mission. change course afterwards.
[Need for a section on pursuit cap- In deep space combat a fighter is
ture differential games?] little more than a mobile weapons bus,
Since detection range is far larger and its main purpose is to engage in
than weapons range, yet doesnt al- battle before the main ship has arrived
low fast closing the two ships typically and with a higher v budget, hope-
have plenty of time to prepare for the fully unsuring victory and no risk of a
upcoming fight. The ships can adjust successful counterattack on the engine.
their velocities to change the situation, Combat usually begins when one
for example by increasing their rela- side attempts active scanning of the
tive velocity (reduces the length of the whereabouts of opposing assets or be-
confrontation, makes kinetic weapons gins beam weapon attacks, and the
more deadly if they hit), decreasing it other side responds by blinding sen-
(increases the length of the confronta- sors through jamming or detonating
tion, allows more launching of fight- some suitable weapon. Henceforth the
ers ahead of the ship, makes kinetic game is to sense the enemy assets with-
weapons less powerful and increases out being blinded while preventing him
the utility of point defenses), passing from seeing where your assets are. If
ahead of the enemy (allows leaving a one side is successfully blinded it will
cloud of kinetic mines that it could be unable to damage the enemy while
collide with) or shifting into trajecto- the enemy might well be able to not
ries that will have other tactical or just damage the main ship but to force
strategic effects (e.g. require even a surrender by placing a suitable weapon
successful enemy to make a large and on or near it. Boarding is rare due to
potentially dangerous detour). A late the high v demands, but might occur
trajectory adjustment can make earlier if there is time after surrender.
launched equipment miss the predicted During the core combat the dis-
battle volume. tributed sensors attempt to pinpoint

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key targets (the main ship, its dis- ships entering or leaving the system) or
tributed weapons, its sensors) and destroy certain habitats or objectives.
signal to nearby weapons to destroy Hitting stationary targets like or-
or neutralize them. The ships and biting habitats is very easy but some
weapons try to avoid being hit by eva- can have fearsome armor such as bee-
sive maneouvers and point defense fire hive habitats surrounded by many me-
against incoming missiles and kinetic ters of astroid regolith or planets with
weapons. Point defenses must be over- an atmosphere. Tincan, torus, Rea-
whelmed, which favors ships that can gan and Hamilton cylinders are on
distribute a large number of incoming the hand very vulnerable to attacks:
objects or hit using beams. at best they can use point defenses
After the clouds have passed each against incoming kinetic weapons and
other there is seldom a chance for a sec- missiles, but they can easily be dam-
ond pass. The survivors (if any) gather aged by beam weapons. The amount
up assets and continue on their way. of debris caused by this is potentially
Expanding debris clouds will remain a a major navigational hazard along the
navigational hazard for some time but orbit of the targeted structure.
usually disperse within a few days to Planets, moons and asteroids are
the degree that they are irrelevant. potential fortresses. Not only are
The goal of deep space combat is they naturally armored, they also have
usually to prevent enemy ships from ample space, energy and heat sink ca-
arriving near habitats or other vulner- pacity for defenses. Places with at-
able locations, proactively defeating mospheres are relatively safe from or-
them before they can do damage. At bital attacks as long as their forces
the same time luring defenders away retain orbital superiority, but con-
from the target is also a valuable strat- versely have a hard time launching
egy. anti-orbit weapons or hitting objects
[Diagram showing the different in orbit with beams. Airless loca-
ranges of sensors and weapons] tions can use very long baseline sen-
[what is range of small weapons?] sors and weapons, have essentially ar-
[what is prob hit? how small can bitrary heat sink capacity and can in
weapons be made?] principle produce very large amounts
of energy to power extremely heavy
weapons. Shuttles or atmospheric
10.2 Orbital warfare
fighters are generally useless in orbital
Orbital warfare is battles near sta- warfare: they are easily detectable
tionary targets, in particularly planet- while launching or landing, yet have
moon systems. Unlike in deep space far too low velocity or evasion capa-
combat everything is within or close to bility in this situation to avoid being
firing range, large volumes are hard to hit by orbital or ground weapons.
sense, and there are many neutral or Relative velocities in orbit tend to
irrelevant targets. Some of the appar- be lower than in deep space com-
ently neutral or irrelevant targets may bat, and surviving opposing ships will
also be enemy assets in disguise, mak- see each other again after they have
ing the combat zone full of surprises. rounded the planet. Ships in retoger-
Typical orbital warfare objectives ade orbits or doing high-velocity en-
involve achieving orbital dominance try from interplanetary space can how-
(total control over traffic within a vol- ever achieve the high velocities favor-
ume), trade or transport interdiction ing short battles. The Oberth effect
(ability to destroy or intercept civilian (and aerobraking in some cases) also

33
allows drastic course changes. range weapons or approaches. How-
There are hidden volumes due to ever, the local forces have potentially
planetary masses and phenomena such very large advantages in having nu-
as magnetotails. These can be used merous hard-to-defeat sensors that can
for surprise maneouvers, to avoid long- monitor most angles.

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