Orbital Kinetic Bombardment gets close to nuclear on damage and cost

As of 2017, the US has an estimated 4,018 nuclear weapons in either deployment or storage. The US plans to spend $1.2 trillion to modernize the nuclear arsenal over the next 30 years. Two-thirds of the nuclear weapons budget will be spent on the operation and maintenance of existing weaponry, while the remaining third will go toward modernizing the technology. $445 billion will be spent on factories, labs, and other infrastructure, while $25 billion will go toward delivery systems that facilitate short-range strikes.

The US will spend about $300 million per nuclear weapon on the modernization and maintenance.

SpaceX BFR bring orbital kinetic weapons close to cost of nuclear weapons

The first SpaceX BFR could be flying into space in 2023. The SpaceX BFR will be fully reusable and will massively lower the cost of taking cargo to space. SpaceX has already lowered the cost of cargo to space into the $500 to $1000 per pound range using the Falcon Heavy and Falcon 9. Other rockets cost $5000 to 20,000 per pound for payloads to low earth orbit. Each SpaceX BFR could be flying 10-50 times per year. If there the market for launches can be grown with $40-200 per pound launch costs.

SpaceX can build about 400 to 500 raptor engines every year.

By 2028, there could be a fleet of 50 to 65 BFR.

The USA could boost production and buy a separate fleet of 200 SpaceX BFR. If each cost $350 million, then it would cost $70 billion.

Rods from God Tungsten Kinetic Weapons

The US Air Force and Navy looked closely at tungsten rod kinetic energy weapons on several occasions.

A 47 page Congressional Research Bureau report Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues was written by Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy.

If it cost $100 per pound to launch a 12-ton rod then each rod would cost $2.4 million. Tungsten costs about $20 per pound and there are reserves of about 3.5 million tons. There are 90 million tons of lead reserves. Tungsten shells could cover the lead. Lead costs 20 to 70 cents per pound. A fully deployed tungsten rod would be about $3 million each.

The Navy considered two types of warheads in the near term for kinetic weapons. One warhead would be designed to destroy or disable area targets like airfields or buildings, using a reentry vehicle loaded with tungsten rods—known as flechettes—that would rain down on the target and destroy everything within an area of up to 3,000 square feet.

It seems the 3000 square foot area destruction estimate seems low. If a tungsten cylinder contained 1 pound bullet sized pieces of shrapnel, then there would be about 20,000 fragments inside. Each would be hitting with hypersonic speed. If there was even distribution then they would be hitting 144 X 144 across some area.

Each one would hit like a few sticks of dynamite. Each would take out about 30 square feet.

So one rod with 144 by 144 pieces would take out about 800 feet by 800 feet.

Kinetic damage

The other might be able to destroy hardened targets, like underground bunkers or reinforced structures, if it were accurate enough to strike very close to the target. Each would be deployed within the reentry body developed and tested under the E2 program. The Navy also explored, for possible future deployment, technologies that might be able to penetrate to destroy hardened, buried targets

The two primary advantages of a kinetic energy rod warhead is that

1) it does not rely on precise navigation as is the case with “hit-to-kill” vehicles and
2) it provides better penetration then blast fragmentation type warheads.

A 6.1 meter × 0.3 meter tungsten cylinder impacting at Mach 10 has a kinetic energy equivalent to approximately 11.5 tons of TNT (or 7.2 tons of dynamite). Some other sources suggest a speed of 36,000 ft/s (11,000 m/s), which for the aforementioned rod would amount to a kinetic energy equivalent to 120 tons of TNT or 0.12 kt. With 6–8 satellites on a given orbit, a target could be hit within 12–15 minutes from any given time, less than half the time taken by an ICBM and without the warning. Such a system could also be equipped with sensors to detect incoming anti-ballistic missile-type threats and relatively light protective measures to use against them (e.g. Hit-To-Kill Missiles or megawatt-class chemical laser).

The higher damage likely involves taking the rods to a far higher orbit. It would likely double fuel cost to get to the higher orbit but the damage would increase ten times.

Cost of nuclear weapons versus kinetic weapons

Instead of buying or upgrading a $300 million nuclear weapon, the military could go with one hundred rods at $3 million each.

One hundred rods would have a total of 1150 to 14,000 tons of TNT destructive power.

One hundred flechette or shrapnel rods would level a two to three square mile area.

Orbital pure kinetic energy weapons get around the Hiroshima level of overall devastation. Kinetic weapons are more flexible than nuclear and can have very precise levels of damage.

221 thoughts on “Orbital Kinetic Bombardment gets close to nuclear on damage and cost”

  1. Humans are experts at figuring out different ways to destroy other humans, animals, and our planet. We will one day suffer the fate of our collective destructive genius ways u less we change our course. There are no signs of us “changing course” anytime soon. Doomed!!!!

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  2. Uh, depleted uranium cannot be used in orbital bombardments.

    <sigh> They can be coated with another metal that prevents fragmentation.

    Ball bearings would be silly. The spherical shape would cause excess friction, greatly diminishing the impact velocity.

    Wow! so the ball bearings in a munition cannister being dropped from orbit would cause ANY friction despite the fact that they don’t come into contact with the outside atmo until the munition cannister they are housed within breaks open AFTER it had already re-entered said atmo and was close to ground?

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  3. Uh, depleted uranium cannot be used in orbital bombardments. Du is much weaker than tungsten alloys, and would fragment at high velocities. That is why tanks and artillery using Du rounds are lower velocity than tungsten rounds. Ball bearings would be silly. The spherical shape would cause excess friction, greatly diminishing the impact velocity. Flechettes would be much more effective, and were in fact discussed by scientists during the cold war.

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  4. The rods are big enough to fit a small nuclear device inside, so this way you get the best of both world the penetrating power and precision of the rod boosted by nuclear power when needed.

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  5. “4,018 nuclear weapons” And what did we have at the height of the Cold War? Just over 30,000. We did produce a total of 70,000 since 1945. And why bother with just tungsten? Depleted uranium is used in projectiles for a reason, ya no. And why not go with smaller ‘ball bearing’ canister warheads too? Great for wide-area effect mass anti-personnel weapons! Esp when used on Chinese cities!

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  6. When nuclear weapons finally are used in earnest, I’m pretty sure we’ll find that we have very much overestimated the impact of fallout, especially in the case of atmospheric detonation. There’s just not a lot of mass in weapons. Most of the neutrons emitted are likely to be ultimately absorbed by nitrogen making C14 – not particularly dangerous stuff. Should be maybe 5 kg of fission products, 20 kg of fuel actinides and 200 kg of activated, vaporized bomb case spread over huge area… Since urban areas are targets, we could expect a huge loss of hipsters and other sophisticated urban types in a nuclear war, but I should be good here in the stix. I hear that the Ruskies have greatly improved the CEP of their ICBMs.

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  7. To me this is a no brainer. But I don’t understand why we have to put metal in orbit from the earth when we can round up asteroid space rocks and push them to controlled orbits around the moon. Its nice to consider their kinetic power for bunker busting but I think a more lethal target would be nearby waters which would cause a tsunami. I don’t know if bring in an asteroid on an angle would be able to direct a tsunami but it bears some study.

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  8. This sounds like a great way to make every civilian BFR launch create a risk of nuclear retaliation if it happens to point the wrong way.

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  9. Damage of nuclear weapon = nuclear weapon and can be answered as such. Welcome to the second nuclear age – North Korea really is ahead of the times!

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  10. Better to do it properly.The real profit when looking at the metric “amount of kinetic energy per $” will come when not hauling all the mass from earth. Therefore, resources shall be spent on asteroid mining technology. It will take a bit longer to get something deployed but eventually, it will be a huge win. The infrastructure will earn money instead of costing money so “amount of kinetic energy per $” will go towards infinity.When there is no war, the system will just be a mining operation. If the material is brought to earth, there will be plenty of target practicing and opportunities for experiments with shapes, materials, re-entry angles and velocities. Solar power, mass drivers, mining equipment and ore processing

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  11. Another point in favor of high density rods is the upkeep. They are totally inert, and will not decay. However:My previous post about consequences of these weapons use needs to add that tungsten is a “heavy” metal with health hazards similar to lead, and the area targeted with these weapons would be seeded with vaporized metal. Almost impossible to remove.

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  12. The shrapnel scenario in the article won’t work. The rods need to stay rod-shaped to maximize the mass to drag profile ratio, they can’t split up before impact or they’ll lose a lot of speed to drag (if a rod splits into fragments most of the energy will go into the atmosphere instead of the target). You can’t design it to fragment more after impact, because they’re already meant to hit so hard that the rod will melt or vaporise itself on impact.

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  13. Pricing the ‘value’ of the entire infrastructure on a per weapon basis for whatever reason. Things are actually worthless- we have 37 tons of plutonium that we are going to ‘dilute and dispose’ because we can build a MOX plant

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  14. Yes but this eliminates the need for the logistical expense inherited from Cold War/WWII thinking–with force projection coming from having bases and carriers all over the planet.

    With this–we don’t really even need an Navy or an Air Force so bloated

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  15. Yeah, mining the moon. Let’s see, no on has been there since, um, December 1972 and the last man there has been dead for almost 2 years. And all the muslims Barry touted don’t seem to be getting anywhere with further space exploration. You, or your kids, or your grandkids, or your great grandkids are not too likely to see more Americans there at all, let along doing any prospecting, refining, or manufacturing of Rods from God there. Get out of yer mom’s basement to Real Worldville.

    Reply
  16. I did write “assuming the molecule doesn’t fall apart”. A triple bond is pretty strong, but given enough energy, that assumption may well be wrong. Near the detonation center, the temperature alone is probably enough to rip all the molecules apart.

    If it does fall apart, you get two highly reactive atoms, which can do all sorts of interesting chemistry.

    Reply
  17. Oh. I understand now. I guess in a similar vein I expect the recoil energy of the 14C to exceed the strength of the triple bond of N2. Dunno. Maybe you’re right… like I said it’s hard to find references.

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  18. A ship launched missile could not reach Kansas. 1500+ km from a major body of water, with max range of an anti-missile system about 600-1000km (400-650 miles) on a perfect pre-planned intercept. BFR take-off and landing in the middle of the US, fly with a 60-80 ton payload, it would easily get 1000-1500km up before it deployed, well out of range.

    Reply
  19. Life will go on, and when there is no measured increase in cancer rates (for those not acutely exposed), what is left of the world will have to accept, finally, that the linear no threshold dose effect relationship is wholly FALSE. 🙂

    Reply
  20. Like I said, probably not the same specific proton. But the CN- anion could grab a proton from some other molecule (maybe water, but more likely from some acidic species), which could in turn grab a proton from another molecule, etc. Meanwhile, that knocked out proton will eventually dissipate its energy through various collisions, and would be grabbed by another molecule elsewhere. So it balances out in the big picture.

    Reply
  21. The “boomers” were the disaster, the give me everything generation. The millennials got sort of screwed and are too obsessed with image, then there is the “Oregon Trail Generation” (born early to mid 80s) which are sort of a more tech savvy Gen X.

    Reply
  22. Contractors are super expensive in US, but wow this takes the yellowcake. Conversely, Iphones generated a trillion dollars instead of consuming it.

    Reply
  23. I suspect hypersonic boost/glide weapons launched by a Falcon 9 would have many of the same benefits at an even lower cost. The Falcon could lift 22000 kg to orbit, so one launch could overwhelm a target with a large number of hypersonic glide weapons, or they could be scattered to cover a large area.In an ideal world, we would probably want both.

    Reply
  24. The sheer horror of nuclear war with fallout, radiation poisoning, areas of the planet uninhabitable for who knows how long, nuclear winter and possible genetic damage, etc is part of what kept us from using nuclear weapons. After all the radiation would and nuclear winter would affect us too. At least that was part of the perception. There are people in the comments saying it wouldn’t be so awful. Now we’ve thought up a whole new and sanitary way to kill people…and we can do it without hurting ourselves. We are collectively insane.

    Reply
  25. This article includes the very high price of boosting the impactors up from earth. If we were to start mining the moon or asteroids and shipping the metal back to earth we would likely do this as long thin rods with an ablative nosecone and waffle fins to minimize their speed on impact and direct them to a safe impact area, such as an abandoned quarry. This would generate a great deal of revenue and help save our planet by shutting down mines on earth which cause great environmental damage. In the event of a war we could redirect our metal shipments to land on enemy targets. So not only would this be much cheaper than launching the impactors from earth, it would also be a huge money maker until we needed it for war.

    Reply
  26. Yeah, mining the moon. Let’s see, no on has been there since, um, December 1972 and the last man there has been dead for almost 2 years. And all the muslims Barry touted don’t seem to be getting anywhere with further space exploration. You, or your kids, or your grandkids, or your great grandkids are not too likely to see more Americans there at all, let along doing any prospecting, refining, or manufacturing of Rods from God there. Get out of yer mom’s basement to Real Worldville.

    Reply
  27. I did write “assuming the molecule doesn’t fall apart”. A triple bond is pretty strong, but given enough energy, that assumption may well be wrong. Near the detonation center, the temperature alone is probably enough to rip all the molecules apart.If it does fall apart, you get two highly reactive atoms, which can do all sorts of interesting chemistry.

    Reply
  28. Oh. I understand now. I guess in a similar vein I expect the recoil energy of the 14C to exceed the strength of the triple bond of N2. Dunno. Maybe you’re right… like I said it’s hard to find references.

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  29. I see, that makes sense. However, I still have to wonder since the craft’s trajectory can be calculated and modeled in near real-time. Both an ICBM and a launch system’s second stage would have the same orbital characteristics until the second stage circularized its sub-orbital path, while the ICBM would not have. The BFR would act like an ICBM MIRV but have the flight characteristics of a second stage, so a MIOV (orbital vehicle). Harder to distinguish from an ICBM, from a flight profile, and even temporal profile; the BFR could stay up there for weeks or months, itself being the deterrent that never needs to be used.

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  30. Like I said, probably not the same specific proton. But the CN- anion could grab a proton from some other molecule (maybe water, but more likely from some acidic species), which could in turn grab a proton from another molecule, etc. Meanwhile, that knocked out proton will eventually dissipate its energy through various collisions, and would be grabbed by another molecule elsewhere. So it balances out in the big picture.

    Reply
  31. I did write “assuming the molecule doesn’t fall apart”. A triple bond is pretty strong, but given enough energy, that assumption may well be wrong. Near the detonation center, the temperature alone is probably enough to rip all the molecules apart.

    If it does fall apart, you get two highly reactive atoms, which can do all sorts of interesting chemistry.

    Reply
  32. Oh. I understand now. I guess in a similar vein I expect the recoil energy of the 14C to exceed the strength of the triple bond of N2. Dunno. Maybe you’re right… like I said it’s hard to find references.

    Reply
  33. The “boomers” were the disaster, the give me everything generation. The millennials got sort of screwed and are too obsessed with image, then there is the “Oregon Trail Generation” (born early to mid 80s) which are sort of a more tech savvy Gen X.

    Reply
  34. A ship launched missile could not reach Kansas. 1500+ km from a major body of water, with max range of an anti-missile system about 600-1000km (400-650 miles) on a perfect pre-planned intercept. BFR take-off and landing in the middle of the US, fly with a 60-80 ton payload, it would easily get 1000-1500km up before it deployed, well out of range.

    Reply
  35. Like I said, probably not the same specific proton. But the CN- anion could grab a proton from some other molecule (maybe water, but more likely from some acidic species), which could in turn grab a proton from another molecule, etc. Meanwhile, that knocked out proton will eventually dissipate its energy through various collisions, and would be grabbed by another molecule elsewhere. So it balances out in the big picture.

    Reply
  36. The “boomers” were the disaster, the give me everything generation. The millennials got sort of screwed and are too obsessed with image, then there is the “Oregon Trail Generation” (born early to mid 80s) which are sort of a more tech savvy Gen X.

    Reply
  37. A ship launched missile could not reach Kansas. 1500+ km from a major body of water, with max range of an anti-missile system about 600-1000km (400-650 miles) on a perfect pre-planned intercept. BFR take-off and landing in the middle of the US, fly with a 60-80 ton payload, it would easily get 1000-1500km up before it deployed, well out of range.

    Reply
  38. Life will go on, and when there is no measured increase in cancer rates (for those not acutely exposed), what is left of the world will have to accept, finally, that the linear no threshold dose effect relationship is wholly FALSE. 🙂

    Reply
  39. Yup, call it an “n p” reaction. I didn’t bother to look, but I would imagine the proton ejects with more energy than the most tightly bound electron in carbon so I doubt it would ‘stick around for HCN.

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  40. Zil, that’s a really good idea. How about you work out all the details (enforcement (without weapons), inspections, getting everyone to agree…) and get back to us?

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  41. I believe that what people are getting at is: that for many decades the same sorts of rockets have been used for satellite launches AND as ICBMs loaded with nuclear warheads.And for many decades the nuclear powers have been able to launch space missions without the other superpowers freaking out because it could have been a nuclear missile on its way to Moscow (or Washington, or London or wherever).Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the systems used to assure each other that “no, this is a peaceful space launch” will still work.

    Reply
  42. The sheer horror of nuclear war with fallout, radiation poisoning, areas of the planet uninhabitable for who knows how long, nuclear winter and possible genetic damage, etc is part of what kept us from using nuclear weapons. After all the radiation would and nuclear winter would affect us too. At least that was part of the perception. There are people in the comments saying it wouldn’t be so awful. Now we’ve thought up a whole new and sanitary way to kill people…and we can do it without hurting ourselves. We are collectively insane.

    Reply
  43. Methinks that if a ship capable of ABM missions was positioned off the US coast during the exact timing of this launch, higher-ups would be 2 and 2 together and take countermeasures. Seems like a good way to escalate things quite a bit, actually.

    Reply
  44. “All of them still woukdn’t be in the future.” Isn’t the article we’re talking about’s whole point detailing the potential of placing orbital strike weaponry into the BFR…? Which means that in that hypothetical future scenario, some (not all) would be?”Why is that not obvious?”I guess it isn’t obvious to me. Payload integration isn’t exactly a televised event, so barring the inclusion of officials from major nations on-site to see that no sleight-of-hand business was carried out during integration, it would just be one nation’s word that (for example) “Yes Russia, this craft is not carrying orbital strike weaponry, we swear! Cross our hearts!” You see what I’m getting at?

    Reply
  45. Life will go on, and when there is no measured increase in cancer rates (for those not acutely exposed), what is left of the world will have to accept, finally, that the linear no threshold dose effect relationship is wholly FALSE. 🙂

    Reply
  46. This article includes the very high price of boosting the impactors up from earth. If we were to start mining the moon or asteroids and shipping the metal back to earth we would likely do this as long thin rods with an ablative nosecone and waffle fins to minimize their speed on impact and direct them to a safe impact area, such as an abandoned quarry. This would generate a great deal of revenue and help save our planet by shutting down mines on earth which cause great environmental damage. In the event of a war we could redirect our metal shipments to land on enemy targets. So not only would this be much cheaper than launching the impactors from earth, it would also be a huge money maker until we needed it for war.

    Reply
  47. I believe that what people are getting at is: that for many decades the same sorts of rockets have been used for satellite launches AND as ICBMs loaded with nuclear warheads.
    And for many decades the nuclear powers have been able to launch space missions without the other superpowers freaking out because it could have been a nuclear missile on its way to Moscow (or Washington, or London or wherever).
    Therefore it is reasonable to assume that the systems used to assure each other that “no, this is a peaceful space launch” will still work.

    Reply
  48. Ah, I see. So it’s a proton displacement reaction, not a plain neutron capture.It’s interesting to note that the resulting carbon has just enough additional bonding electrons to bond with the hydrogen byproduct (though probably not the same specific proton). Quite beautiful how these things balance out.The chemical result is not that beautiful though. Assuming the molecule doesn’t fall apart or react with other things first, if you start from safe and inert nitrogen gas, you end up with hydrogen cyanide. Quite toxic, and radioactive to boot. (Though probably too dilute to be an issue.)

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  49. Yeah, they should be able to maintain the expertise, which is what the money is for, with much, much less money. I can’t believe they involve so many heads in the nuclear weapon industry. Seems like an industry you should keep small and tight for IP security. Instead they are making it into a $Trillion pork picnic it seems. $300M PER WARHEAD? Things were designed and built decades ago. Even if weapon shelf life is limited, shouldn’t require such an industry to tear-down and refurbish. I can’t imagine they’d want to make real design changes without testing.

    Reply
  50. ” All those launchers in the past weren’t carrying orbital strike weaponry. ” <– All of them still woukdn’t be in the future.” How to differentiate a BFR that’s carrying a bunch of small satellites or one that is carrying these rods? ” <– Same as for every other rocket launch to orbit which has ever taken place. Why is that not obvious?

    Reply
  51. The sheer horror of nuclear war with fallout, radiation poisoning, areas of the planet uninhabitable for who knows how long, nuclear winter and possible genetic damage, etc is part of what kept us from using nuclear weapons. After all the radiation would and nuclear winter would affect us too. At least that was part of the perception. There are people in the comments saying it wouldn’t be so awful. Now we’ve thought up a whole new and sanitary way to kill people…and we can do it without hurting ourselves. We are collectively insane.

    Reply
  52. Methinks that if a ship capable of ABM missions was positioned off the US coast during the exact timing of this launch, higher-ups would be 2 and 2 together and take countermeasures. Seems like a good way to escalate things quite a bit, actually.

    Reply
  53. “All of them still woukdn’t be in the future.”

    Isn’t the article we’re talking about’s whole point detailing the potential of placing orbital strike weaponry into the BFR…? Which means that in that hypothetical future scenario, some (not all) would be?

    “Why is that not obvious?”

    I guess it isn’t obvious to me. Payload integration isn’t exactly a televised event, so barring the inclusion of officials from major nations on-site to see that no sleight-of-hand business was carried out during integration, it would just be one nation’s word that (for example) “Yes Russia, this craft is not carrying orbital strike weaponry, we swear! Cross our hearts!” You see what I’m getting at?

    Reply
  54. If the neutrons are absorbed by nitrogen, it should produce N15, not C14. In the unlikely event that absorbs another neutron, that should give O16 after a quick beta decay. Both N15 and O16 are stable. The oxygen can also absorb a couple neutrons and remain stable, but the cross sections are much lower IIRC.Not sure how you’re getting C14. Did you confuse the C14 -> N14 beta decay? Even CO2 should mostly produce C13 and O17, not C14…Now, if the *gammas* get absorbed by nitrogen, then I can see all sorts of things happening to the excited atom. Don’t know which will actually happen.

    Reply
  55. This article includes the very high price of boosting the impactors up from earth. If we were to start mining the moon or asteroids and shipping the metal back to earth we would likely do this as long thin rods with an ablative nosecone and waffle fins to minimize their speed on impact and direct them to a safe impact area, such as an abandoned quarry. This would generate a great deal of revenue and help save our planet by shutting down mines on earth which cause great environmental damage.
    In the event of a war we could redirect our metal shipments to land on enemy targets. So not only would this be much cheaper than launching the impactors from earth, it would also be a huge money maker until we needed it for war.

    Reply
  56. Ah, I see. So it’s a proton displacement reaction, not a plain neutron capture.

    It’s interesting to note that the resulting carbon has just enough additional bonding electrons to bond with the hydrogen byproduct (though probably not the same specific proton). Quite beautiful how these things balance out.

    The chemical result is not that beautiful though. Assuming the molecule doesn’t fall apart or react with other things first, if you start from safe and inert nitrogen gas, you end up with hydrogen cyanide. Quite toxic, and radioactive to boot. (Though probably too dilute to be an issue.)

    Reply
  57. I suspect hypersonic boost/glide weapons launched by a Falcon 9 would have many of the same benefits at an even lower cost. The Falcon could lift 22000 kg to orbit, so one launch could overwhelm a target with a large number of hypersonic glide weapons, or they could be scattered to cover a large area.In an ideal world, we would probably want both.

    Reply
  58. Yeah, they should be able to maintain the expertise, which is what the money is for, with much, much less money. I can’t believe they involve so many heads in the nuclear weapon industry. Seems like an industry you should keep small and tight for IP security. Instead they are making it into a $Trillion pork picnic it seems. $300M PER WARHEAD? Things were designed and built decades ago. Even if weapon shelf life is limited, shouldn’t require such an industry to tear-down and refurbish. I can’t imagine they’d want to make real design changes without testing.

    Reply
  59. ” All those launchers in the past weren’t carrying orbital strike weaponry. ” <-- All of them still woukdn't be in the future. " How to differentiate a BFR that's carrying a bunch of small satellites or one that is carrying these rods? " <-- Same as for every other rocket launch to orbit which has ever taken place. Why is that not obvious?

    Reply
  60. Contractors are super expensive in US, but wow this takes the yellowcake. Conversely, Iphones generated a trillion dollars instead of consuming it.

    Reply
  61. Uh oh you just mentioned the OST, good game thanks for playing (people here don’t like that little international reminder).

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  62. True, but he does have a point. All those launchers in the past weren’t carrying orbital strike weaponry. How to differentiate a BFR that’s carrying a bunch of small satellites or one that is carrying these rods? Short of being there for integration, it would be hard to persuade adversaries of its peaceful mission.

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  63. “FIERY Rods From God!”Not so good for stealth, but biblical in its message. Very great demoralizer: it’s one thing to not be able to defend against a weapon, but quite another to not be able to defend against it AND see it barreling down on you.

    Reply
  64. In theory you can use very high ISP ion drives (or infinite ISP solar sails) powered by solar or nuclear electricity to shove asteroids around using very low amounts of fuel.Using in situ resource fuel means you don’t need to launch the fuel from Earth at all.And future asteroid mining plans intend to rely on developing this tech, otherwise asteroid mining doesn’t make sense.However, all those qualifiers (future, theory, developing…) are not things that lend themselves to a near term military project.

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  65. If the neutrons are absorbed by nitrogen, it should produce N15, not C14. In the unlikely event that absorbs another neutron, that should give O16 after a quick beta decay. Both N15 and O16 are stable. The oxygen can also absorb a couple neutrons and remain stable, but the cross sections are much lower IIRC.

    Not sure how you’re getting C14. Did you confuse the C14 -> N14 beta decay? Even CO2 should mostly produce C13 and O17, not C14…

    Now, if the *gammas* get absorbed by nitrogen, then I can see all sorts of things happening to the excited atom. Don’t know which will actually happen.

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  66. “Yet it is dastardly toxic when finely divided.”Yes. All the reason to use it. Nobody will mess with us after that.”U is a pyro substance: when it moves fast enough through air, it auto-ignites like a tracer round. Not so good for a Rod from God.”Ok. Ok. We can work with that. How about tungsten coated in DU then? FIERY Rods From God!

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  67. Not questioning the destructive ability of the blast; I’m doubting the “well known” nuclear winter after effect – at least its magnitude

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  68. I suspect hypersonic boost/glide weapons launched by a Falcon 9 would have many of the same benefits at an even lower cost. The Falcon could lift 22000 kg to orbit, so one launch could overwhelm a target with a large number of hypersonic glide weapons, or they could be scattered to cover a large area.

    In an ideal world, we would probably want both.

    Reply
  69. The rods are big enough to fit a small nuclear device inside, so this way you get the best of both world the penetrating power and precision of the rod boosted by nuclear power when needed.

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  70. LOL.Lead is good enough. The military uses DU largely because it has stockpiled so much of it, and has long looked for something to do with it. Yet it is dastardly toxic when finely divided. Which is what happens when it comes barreling out of a rifled artillery piece. And when it happens on a tank or personnel carrier that is the object of its destructive purpose. DU wouldn’t actually give the Rods from The Gods any real advantage. U is a pyro substance: when it moves fast enough through air, it auto-ignites like a tracer round. Not so good for a Rod from God. I think the biggest issue is actually hitting anything here on Dirt. Itsy-bitsy fins and an active targeting system could guide a bundle of rods (would that be a tungsten faggot? seriously!) downward for sure. And with today’s computing power, it ought to be able to hit a bull’s eye right enough. And deflagrating a hundred meters above ground, well that’s easy-peasy. So yah, cans of one kg bâhlls, is pretty good. With a bursting charge. A 10 cm diameter Rod Pod, some 10 meters long, would bring over 1,400 kg of tungsten down, whilst only displacing 80 kg of air. You do the math: an ablative aerospike cone of 10° angle would accelerate the 80 kg of air to just under Mach 2 if the rods were falling at over Mach 20. That’d eat up only 3% of the velocity of the rod system. Sounds like quite the weapon.Ought to at least try to make some, see how they work.If “they” haven’t already.GoatGuy

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  71. What about ship-launched ABM weapons launched just 14 miles off the US shoreline? They can hit BFRs launched from Kansas, I bet.

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  72. “Blowing up the world 1000x over? No problem. “Back when the US had over 30,000 warheads in its arsenal, yes that would be a problem. But today we only have ~4k nukes. And they use far fewer explosive yields thanks to advanced targeting nav. And, most civilian targets will be airbursts in addition to that.So yes, no problem. Or rather, no problem outside of the effected localities that will get hit. Namely: Bluetard America. But then again, the Bluetards ‘self-sorted’ themselves into nice juicy WMD targets voluntarily…so what, again, is the problem?

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  73. That and the fact that far, far fewer nukes would be used than projected before. Both in terms of overall nuclear arsenal sizes (US had over 30,000 nukes in its arsenal at one point vs about 4k today) and in terms of less explosive yield needed thanks to huge strides in navigational targeting technology making larger yields unnecessary. And yes, Blue America would be all but wiped out while Red America barely scratched. Do the Bluetards know how much they’ve set themselves up for a ‘mundane SkyNet’ wipe-out? No. They are clueless as they are about most things involving reality outside of their Bubbles.

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  74. “4,018 nuclear weapons” And what did we have at the height of the Cold War? Just over 30,000. We did produce a total of 70,000 since 1945. And why bother with just tungsten? Depleted uranium is used in projectiles for a reason, ya no. And why not go with smaller ‘ball bearing’ canister warheads too? Great for wide-area effect mass anti-personnel weapons! Esp when used on Chinese cities!

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  75. True, but he does have a point. All those launchers in the past weren’t carrying orbital strike weaponry. How to differentiate a BFR that’s carrying a bunch of small satellites or one that is carrying these rods? Short of being there for integration, it would be hard to persuade adversaries of its peaceful mission.

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  76. “FIERY Rods From God!”

    Not so good for stealth, but biblical in its message. Very great demoralizer: it’s one thing to not be able to defend against a weapon, but quite another to not be able to defend against it AND see it barreling down on you.

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  77. I have been saying this for a while. Elon Musk is probably the most powerful individual on the planet. He could be a super-villain if he wanted. Once the BFR is completed, it becomes the most powerful weapons delivery system on the planet. It makes stealth obsolete. You don’ really need to be stealth if you are so high up current weapons cannot reach you. Which is pretty much once you get over 600km up in orbit.

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  78. No it would not, it would be very hard to shoot down. If it launched from the middle of the US (lets say Kansas or Nebraska) it would be out of range of any known anti-satellite or air-to-air weapon in existence, the only way to stop it would be to nuke the launch site before launch. Once its up, if you put maybe 10-20% less payload on-board a BFR it should be able to orbit well over 1000km up, well outside anythings range short of a laser weapon, Currently, the Russian S-400, proposed S-500 and the US SM-3 have ranges of less than 1000km.

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  79. I’m no nuclear scientist but I was trained for NBC recon in the military. From my training, it depends on whether you use ground or air burst for the nuclear weapon. With an air burst you won’t get as much fallout. Ground bursts rain radioactive material all over the landscape and you have to be very cognizant of wind patterns, making sure you have overhead cover when the material comes back down again.

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  80. It takes much more fuel to shift an asteroid orbit by a useful amount than to launch the same mass into low orbit from Earth. Also it takes a lot longer. And we haven’t yet done it in practice. It would be embarrassing to get it wrong.

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  81. Years ago a NASA facility hosted a research project for hypersonic propulsion based around a standard turbojet engine. Their data derived from exploring an MHD inlet and MHD exhaust nozzle augmentation suggested Mach 7 operation with standard JP fuel from an unmodified engine.A hot-electron ionization system was devised for the dry atmosphere found above the tropopause. An MHD system can then manipulate the ionized atmosphere(plasma) to suppress interaction(shock formation) with the leading structure of a vehicle. An airflow can additionally be decelerated by MHD to the sub-sonic inlet flow of an engine without significant added heat. The energy can be returned to the gas-flow of the engine exit nozzle to enhance exhaust velocity.The trajectory of an otherwise non-powered reentry vehicle can be modified by plasma manipulation techniques. On initial generation of plasma at the reentry interface, control of the plasma sheath allows generation of lift. The drag can be substantially reduced through manipulation of airflow velocity, thus preventing shock-wave formation. Vehicle velocity shedding typical of interaction with an atmosphere can be curtailed.

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  82. In theory you can use very high ISP ion drives (or infinite ISP solar sails) powered by solar or nuclear electricity to shove asteroids around using very low amounts of fuel.

    Using in situ resource fuel means you don’t need to launch the fuel from Earth at all.

    And future asteroid mining plans intend to rely on developing this tech, otherwise asteroid mining doesn’t make sense.

    However, all those qualifiers (future, theory, developing…) are not things that lend themselves to a near term military project.

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  83. When nuclear weapons finally are used in earnest, I’m pretty sure we’ll find that we have very much overestimated the impact of fallout, especially in the case of atmospheric detonation. There’s just not a lot of mass in weapons. Most of the neutrons emitted are likely to be ultimately absorbed by nitrogen making C14 – not particularly dangerous stuff. Should be maybe 5 kg of fission products, 20 kg of fuel actinides and 200 kg of activated, vaporized bomb case spread over huge area… Since urban areas are targets, we could expect a huge loss of hipsters and other sophisticated urban types in a nuclear war, but I should be good here in the stix. I hear that the Ruskies have greatly improved the CEP of their ICBMs.

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  84. To me this is a no brainer. But I don’t understand why we have to put metal in orbit from the earth when we can round up asteroid space rocks and push them to controlled orbits around the moon. Its nice to consider their kinetic power for bunker busting but I think a more lethal target would be nearby waters which would cause a tsunami. I don’t know if bring in an asteroid on an angle would be able to direct a tsunami but it bears some study.

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  85. Largely agreed. External observer perspective is the same as every other sentient perspective, not privileged, even if it were an “alien”.

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  86. Naw, just for the fun of it. What use is a Space Force without a war ship? What are the space marines going to use to do orbital insertions without a ship to jump from? Of course, it may also come in handy if some knucklehead decides to draw a 9 dash line around low earth orbit and the moon.

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  87. I’m all in favor of that. In fact that’s why I endorse rule of law, economic and personal freedom.They are what have got more people out of poverty and abject oppression in human history, than any other bleeding hearted ideology trying to dispossess some people to give leftovers to others, while keeping themselves rich and powerful and feeling good about it.

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  88. Typical deluded thinking that judges humanity from an external observer perspective (god’s, aliens’, whatever).”Humanity is bad. Boo-hoo”.Humanity is all there is in terms of sentience and potential value judgement. There are no external observers, gods nor aliens (that we known of).

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  89. Not the whole world, just places like North Korea or Venezuela (South Africa soon on the list) where the whole point of the government is to make sure some people are hungry, ill-clothed, and unhoused. Those places need their governments blown up.

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  90. “Yet it is dastardly toxic when finely divided.”

    Yes. All the reason to use it. Nobody will mess with us after that.

    “U is a pyro substance: when it moves fast enough through air, it auto-ignites like a tracer round. Not so good for a Rod from God.”

    Ok. Ok. We can work with that. How about tungsten coated in DU then? FIERY Rods From God!

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  91. Mor0n, your being unable to tell what is self evident from your delusions is how I know you are an id!ot.What is sentience? Being aware of how you can affect the future of the world at a very abstract level. Duh.No, trees, amoebas, mountains don’t have it. Rivers dream of nothing. All of that is true and has nothing to do with anything about which you it brought up as if it did.Facts are aggressive only to those opposed to reality, which is why I refer to you as being delusional.

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  92. This sounds like a great way to make every civilian BFR launch create a risk of nuclear retaliation if it happens to point the wrong way.

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  93. Mr. ad hominem, you have no factual or argumentative basis for proving that assertion. Being the ape you are, you just showed your aggressive nature, as all apes tend to do. What is sentience? Do trees have it? Amoeba? Mountains? Do rivers dream of building spaceships to mass murder rain forests? Do you even get the morônism that you call a thought? Geez. Too much aggression in this forum. Unbelievable.

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  94. LOL.

    Lead is good enough. The military uses DU largely because it has stockpiled so much of it, and has long looked for something to do with it. Yet it is dastardly toxic when finely divided. Which is what happens when it comes barreling out of a rifled artillery piece. And when it happens on a tank or personnel carrier that is the object of its destructive purpose.

    DU wouldn’t actually give the Rods from The Gods any real advantage. U is a pyro substance: when it moves fast enough through air, it auto-ignites like a tracer round. Not so good for a Rod from God.

    I think the biggest issue is actually hitting anything here on Dirt. Itsy-bitsy fins and an active targeting system could guide a bundle of rods (would that be a tungsten faggot? seriously!) downward for sure. And with today’s computing power, it ought to be able to hit a bull’s eye right enough. And deflagrating a hundred meters above ground, well that’s easy-peasy.

    So yah, cans of one kg bâhlls, is pretty good. With a bursting charge.

    A 10 cm diameter Rod Pod, some 10 meters long, would bring over 1,400 kg of tungsten down, whilst only displacing 80 kg of air. You do the math: an ablative aerospike cone of 10° angle would accelerate the 80 kg of air to just under Mach 2 if the rods were falling at over Mach 20. That’d eat up only 3% of the velocity of the rod system.

    Sounds like quite the weapon.
    Ought to at least try to make some, see how they work.
    If “they” haven’t already.

    GoatGuy

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  95. “Blowing up the world 1000x over? No problem. ”

    Back when the US had over 30,000 warheads in its arsenal, yes that would be a problem. But today we only have ~4k nukes. And they use far fewer explosive yields thanks to advanced targeting nav. And, most civilian targets will be airbursts in addition to that.

    So yes, no problem. Or rather, no problem outside of the effected localities that will get hit. Namely: Bluetard America. But then again, the Bluetards ‘self-sorted’ themselves into nice juicy WMD targets voluntarily…so what, again, is the problem?

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  96. That and the fact that far, far fewer nukes would be used than projected before. Both in terms of overall nuclear arsenal sizes (US had over 30,000 nukes in its arsenal at one point vs about 4k today) and in terms of less explosive yield needed thanks to huge strides in navigational targeting technology making larger yields unnecessary.

    And yes, Blue America would be all but wiped out while Red America barely scratched. Do the Bluetards know how much they’ve set themselves up for a ‘mundane SkyNet’ wipe-out? No. They are clueless as they are about most things involving reality outside of their Bubbles.

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  97. “4,018 nuclear weapons”

    And what did we have at the height of the Cold War? Just over 30,000. We did produce a total of 70,000 since 1945.

    And why bother with just tungsten? Depleted uranium is used in projectiles for a reason, ya no.

    And why not go with smaller ‘ball bearing’ canister warheads too? Great for wide-area effect mass anti-personnel weapons! Esp when used on Chinese cities!

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  98. It means there is effectively no drag.” In comparison, the specific energy of plutonium is 31,000,000 MJ/kg. ” <– The overwhelmingly large proportion of which is overkill, and of no benefit.

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  99. No. Why would that be true? It can deliver its warload without ever leaving US continental territory — payload is ballistic after release until it can maneuver in the atmosphere. If built with propulsion and TPS, it can fly a lifting suppressed trajectory for quite a ways.

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  100. Damage of nuclear weapon = nuclear weapon and can be answered as such. Welcome to the second nuclear age – North Korea really is ahead of the times!

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  101. I have been saying this for a while. Elon Musk is probably the most powerful individual on the planet. He could be a super-villain if he wanted. Once the BFR is completed, it becomes the most powerful weapons delivery system on the planet. It makes stealth obsolete. You don’ really need to be stealth if you are so high up current weapons cannot reach you. Which is pretty much once you get over 600km up in orbit.

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  102. No it would not, it would be very hard to shoot down. If it launched from the middle of the US (lets say Kansas or Nebraska) it would be out of range of any known anti-satellite or air-to-air weapon in existence, the only way to stop it would be to nuke the launch site before launch. Once its up, if you put maybe 10-20% less payload on-board a BFR it should be able to orbit well over 1000km up, well outside anythings range short of a laser weapon, Currently, the Russian S-400, proposed S-500 and the US SM-3 have ranges of less than 1000km.

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  103. I’m no nuclear scientist but I was trained for NBC recon in the military. From my training, it depends on whether you use ground or air burst for the nuclear weapon. With an air burst you won’t get as much fallout. Ground bursts rain radioactive material all over the landscape and you have to be very cognizant of wind patterns, making sure you have overhead cover when the material comes back down again.

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  104. It takes much more fuel to shift an asteroid orbit by a useful amount than to launch the same mass into low orbit from Earth. Also it takes a lot longer. And we haven’t yet done it in practice. It would be embarrassing to get it wrong.

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  105. When nuclear weapons finally are used in earnest, I’m pretty sure we’ll find that we have very much overestimated the impact of fallout, especially in the case of atmospheric detonation. There’s just not a lot of mass in weapons. Most of the neutrons emitted are likely to be ultimately absorbed by nitrogen making C14 – not particularly dangerous stuff. Should be maybe 5 kg of fission products, 20 kg of fuel actinides and 200 kg of activated, vaporized bomb case spread over huge area… Since urban areas are targets, we could expect a huge loss of hipsters and other sophisticated urban types in a nuclear war, but I should be good here in the stix. I hear that the Ruskies have greatly improved the CEP of their ICBMs.

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  106. To me this is a no brainer. But I don’t understand why we have to put metal in orbit from the earth when we can round up asteroid space rocks and push them to controlled orbits around the moon. Its nice to consider their kinetic power for bunker busting but I think a more lethal target would be nearby waters which would cause a tsunami. I don’t know if bring in an asteroid on an angle would be able to direct a tsunami but it bears some study.

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  107. Better to do it properly.The real profit when looking at the metric “amount of kinetic energy per $” will come when not hauling all the mass from earth. Therefore, resources shall be spent on asteroid mining technology. It will take a bit longer to get something deployed but eventually, it will be a huge win. The infrastructure will earn money instead of costing money so “amount of kinetic energy per $” will go towards infinity.When there is no war, the system will just be a mining operation. If the material is brought to earth, there will be plenty of target practicing and opportunities for experiments with shapes, materials, re-entry angles and velocities. Solar power, mass drivers, mining equipment and ore processing

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  108. Naw, just for the fun of it. What use is a Space Force without a war ship? What are the space marines going to use to do orbital insertions without a ship to jump from? Of course, it may also come in handy if some knucklehead decides to draw a 9 dash line around low earth orbit and the moon.

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  109. I’m all in favor of that. In fact that’s why I endorse rule of law, economic and personal freedom.

    They are what have got more people out of poverty and abject oppression in human history, than any other bleeding hearted ideology trying to dispossess some people to give leftovers to others, while keeping themselves rich and powerful and feeling good about it.

    Reply
  110. Typical deluded thinking that judges humanity from an external observer perspective (god’s, aliens’, whatever).

    “Humanity is bad. Boo-hoo”.

    Humanity is all there is in terms of sentience and potential value judgement. There are no external observers, gods nor aliens (that we known of).

    Reply
  111. Not the whole world, just places like North Korea or Venezuela (South Africa soon on the list) where the whole point of the government is to make sure some people are hungry, ill-clothed, and unhoused.

    Those places need their governments blown up.

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  112. Mor0n, your being unable to tell what is self evident from your delusions is how I know you are an id!ot.

    What is sentience? Being aware of how you can affect the future of the world at a very abstract level. Duh.

    No, trees, amoebas, mountains don’t have it. Rivers dream of nothing. All of that is true and has nothing to do with anything about which you it brought up as if it did.

    Facts are aggressive only to those opposed to reality, which is why I refer to you as being delusional.

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  113. Another point in favor of high density rods is the upkeep. They are totally inert, and will not decay. However:My previous post about consequences of these weapons use needs to add that tungsten is a “heavy” metal with health hazards similar to lead, and the area targeted with these weapons would be seeded with vaporized metal. Almost impossible to remove.

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  114. Mr. ad hominem, you have no factual or argumentative basis for proving that assertion. Being the ape you are, you just showed your aggressive nature, as all apes tend to do. What is sentience? Do trees have it? Amoeba? Mountains? Do rivers dream of building spaceships to mass murder rain forests? Do you even get the morônism that you call a thought? Geez. Too much aggression in this forum. Unbelievable.

    Reply
  115. It means there is effectively no drag.

    ” In comparison, the specific energy of plutonium is 31,000,000 MJ/kg. ” <-- The overwhelmingly large proportion of which is overkill, and of no benefit.

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  116. No. Why would that be true? It can deliver its warload without ever leaving US continental territory — payload is ballistic after release until it can maneuver in the atmosphere. If built with propulsion and TPS, it can fly a lifting suppressed trajectory for quite a ways.

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  117. Sure there is. At the very least, you get shock heating. But just because it’s long and pointy doesn’t mean that there’s no frictional drag.BTW: If you change the orbit of something in GEO so that its perigee is sea level, you arrive at 10,426 m/s, which, if there were no drag at all, would be a specific energy of 54 MJ/kg. Do the same thing from an 1100 km LEO and the specific energy is 34 MJ/kg. In comparison, the specific energy of plutonium is 31,000,000 MJ/kg.

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  118. Your not understanding.The mass to air resistance is the key. The cross section compared to the mass is insane. At orbital speeds even if it slows down to say 6500ft/s it still hits with around 1/100th the force of a nuke…which is still insane

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  119. The shrapnel scenario in the article won’t work. The rods need to stay rod-shaped to maximize the mass to drag profile ratio, they can’t split up before impact or they’ll lose a lot of speed to drag (if a rod splits into fragments most of the energy will go into the atmosphere instead of the target). You can’t design it to fragment more after impact, because they’re already meant to hit so hard that the rod will melt or vaporise itself on impact.

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  120. Pricing the ‘value’ of the entire infrastructure on a per weapon basis for whatever reason. Things are actually worthless- we have 37 tons of plutonium that we are going to ‘dilute and dispose’ because we can build a MOX plant

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  121. Plot twist, Elon Musk will have a 1 335 000 kg BFS at orbital velocities which works out to be about 10 kT of yield should it crash into the Earth.He will, personally, be effectively a nuclear power.

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  122. I don’t know what you mean by slow. I think the rods would accelerate at 32 ft/sec*sec. There would be no significant air resistance.

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  123. Russia has a relativistic system, China has a Tachyon based system made of dark matter.I’ll provide a link that proves this, but you can’t see it in the fuukle comment system:There, that proves everything.

    Reply
  124. Better to do it properly.
    The real profit when looking at the metric “amount of kinetic energy per $” will come when not hauling all the mass from earth. Therefore, resources shall be spent on asteroid mining technology. It will take a bit longer to get something deployed but eventually, it will be a huge win. The infrastructure will earn money instead of costing money so “amount of kinetic energy per $” will go towards infinity.

    When there is no war, the system will just be a mining operation. If the material is brought to earth, there will be plenty of target practicing and opportunities for experiments with shapes, materials, re-entry angles and velocities.

    Solar power, mass drivers, mining equipment and ore processing

    Reply
  125. So now you’re setting up the story plot where an upset Elon Musk has to repossess his technology to prevent it from being used as WMD. So he’s basically in the same predicament as Tony Stark or Val Kilmer’s character in ‘Real Genius’gooDOTgl/hcci8p

    Reply
  126. So now you’re setting up the story plot where an upset Elon Musk has to repossess his technology to prevent it from being used as WMD. So he’s basically in the same predicament as Tony Stark or Val Kilmer’s character in ‘Real Genius’gooDOTgl/hcci8p

    Reply
  127. Two things:1) You’re going to have to quantify “hypersonic speed”. Dumb rods are going to slow a lot during reentry. 2) One of the reasons the military won’t talk about more than tactical area denial weapons is that anything bigger would qualify as a weapon of mass destruction, and would therefore be illegal per the Outer Space Treaty.

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  128. Two things:1) You’re going to have to quantify “hypersonic speed”. Dumb rods are going to slow a lot during reentry. 2) One of the reasons the military won’t talk about more than tactical area denial weapons is that anything bigger would qualify as a weapon of mass destruction, and would therefore be illegal per the Outer Space Treaty.

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  129. Another point in favor of high density rods is the upkeep. They are totally inert, and will not decay. However:
    My previous post about consequences of these weapons use needs to add that tungsten is a “heavy” metal with health hazards similar to lead, and the area targeted with these weapons would be seeded with vaporized metal. Almost impossible to remove.

    Reply
  130. Sure there is. At the very least, you get shock heating. But just because it’s long and pointy doesn’t mean that there’s no frictional drag.

    BTW: If you change the orbit of something in GEO so that its perigee is sea level, you arrive at 10,426 m/s, which, if there were no drag at all, would be a specific energy of 54 MJ/kg. Do the same thing from an 1100 km LEO and the specific energy is 34 MJ/kg. In comparison, the specific energy of plutonium is 31,000,000 MJ/kg.

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  131. Your not understanding.

    The mass to air resistance is the key. The cross section compared to the mass is insane. At orbital speeds even if it slows down to say 6500ft/s it still hits with around 1/100th the force of a nuke…which is still insane

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  132. The shrapnel scenario in the article won’t work. The rods need to stay rod-shaped to maximize the mass to drag profile ratio, they can’t split up before impact or they’ll lose a lot of speed to drag (if a rod splits into fragments most of the energy will go into the atmosphere instead of the target). You can’t design it to fragment more after impact, because they’re already meant to hit so hard that the rod will melt or vaporise itself on impact.

    Reply
  133. Plot twist, Elon Musk will have a 1 335 000 kg BFS at orbital velocities which works out to be about 10 kT of yield should it crash into the Earth.

    He will, personally, be effectively a nuclear power.

    Reply
  134. Russia has a relativistic system, China has a Tachyon based system made of dark matter.

    I’ll provide a link that proves this, but you can’t see it in the fuukle comment system:

    There, that proves everything.

    Reply
  135. So now you’re setting up the story plot where an upset Elon Musk has to repossess his technology to prevent it from being used as WMD. So he’s basically in the same predicament as Tony Stark or Val Kilmer’s character in ‘Real Genius’
    gooDOTgl/hcci8p

    Reply
  136. Two things:

    1) You’re going to have to quantify “hypersonic speed”. Dumb rods are going to slow a lot during reentry.

    2) One of the reasons the military won’t talk about more than tactical area denial weapons is that anything bigger would qualify as a weapon of mass destruction, and would therefore be illegal per the Outer Space Treaty.

    Reply

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