All science fiction tells us is that there are going to be some sweet lasers in space. Hand lasers, lasers on trucks, lasers on ships…lasers for everyone. Until we get those sweet lasers how are we going to fighting in space?
The Fun Part
Spacer Adams, when was the last time you cleaned your weapon? You do realize this is the fucking Space Force right? We aren’t some kids club where you can just have your mom clean your shit…how is that not fucking clear?? Look at me when I am talking to you!
Did I ask for a fucking response?! No! Get your ass back into the armory and clean the entire squad’s weapons…you clearly need the practice!
Roger Sergeant! Moving…
Easy there Spacer….last time you fucked up I had you clean the squad’s personal spearguns. That is most assuradly not what I am talking about here. I want ALL of them cleaned…do you get me!? If it fires a spear, a bolt, a bullet, or a fucking arc of lightening…clean them…and I better be able to disassemble any one of those and find the parts looking like they are fresh from the factory!
Get the fuck out of my sight…you have one hour….
The Real Deal
Space spears? Really? Stick with me for a second…
So everyone wants giant lasers, because
- They are cool
- The laser beam itself moves at the speed of light so dodging is a bitch
- They can melt shit
But what are we going to use until we get all those cool lasers? Literally….we need to be able to cool the lasers before we can hope to hold them. So what until then? A couple of options are out there, each with their own difficulties, and benefits. They are grouped into three main classes of weapons based on how big they are. Lets look at the smaller of the two.
This is the smallest class of weapons. Think pistols and rifles. With this class of weapon the primary consideration is the impact it will have on the holder (since you can lug basically anything around when you are weightless).
A conventional firearm is not going to be a good option for space fighting for the simple reason that it is going to push you, the holder, in the opposite direction of where you are firing it….yea it is just going to work as a propulsion device because of the whole ‘equal and opposite reaction’ nonsense of Newton’s 3rd law of motion.
So an alternative would be a recoilless rifle that allows the projectile to move towards your target without putting any pressure on you to move back.
Here on earth we tend to avoid firing these things inside because the exhaust is…energetic…and that is likely to remain the case in space. So usable…but probably not what you want to use when taking over a pirate ship.
In this category I put spearguns, stapleguns and tasers. All of these would be in play when we go back to the future in space. Really all you need to do in order to…eliminate…your opponent is to get their skin to touch vacuum. Kinda like ‘the floor is lava’ but for adults. So in this case, you really just need to puncture their suits or otherwise disable their life support.
Having a recoiless (see diagram above) spear/staple gun or just a taser would allow you to get all the sweet effects of a bullet (winning), but without the need to propel it fast using a tiny explosion.
Yea…those are going to work in space…bring em
Yea yea yea. If you can hold something in your hand it is in fact ‘man-portable’. But man-portable speaks to a class of weapons that is physically able to be moved by a human (or two), but needs to be setup in order to work properly. Think a machine gun or mortar. These (in some cases) can be fired from the hip in the movies, but in the rest of the world they need to be setup to do their work effectively.
This is the category where firearms are going to be more useful. If you are able to mount a normal earth rifle to a bulkhead (or anchor yourself) then all the icky parts about Newton’s 3rd Law are transferred to what you are mounted to. And chances are that is big enough that it isn’t going to have a noticeable effect on you. And even if it does, the baddies are probably also on said moving thingy, so they are moving with you and therefore easier to hit.
Missiles…yea…they are perty easy to carry when they don’t weigh anything…and how sweet would it be to shoot missiles at pirates?
Spears…also probably fairly useful for grappling with ships that don’t want you near them. Technically probably called grappling hooks, but whatever. You get the point….hehehe….point….
Railguns…maybe….it isn’t clear if these are going to get small enough to be man-portable before we get sweet lasers. If they do, then great. You can lug around a gun able to propel tiny bullets fast enough to get to orbit…just don’t forget to anchor yourself before firing…their recoil is a bitch.
The End Parts
Sorry for the bad news…fighting in space is probably going to be fairly boring for a while. It is mostly just going to be awkward wrestling by astronauts, or fighting with spears and knives. Not nearly as cool as Starship Troopers or Star Trek.
I’ll address the mounted weapons in a later post, and explain why non-lasers are kinda sucky at fighting in space. Until then feel free to check out less violent posts, like how to do a protest on the moon, or sleeping in space.