Spaced based lasers....
If they are solid state where they don't need ton's of chem's to make them run then It would work but you would need 2 kinds. The first one would
need to be the best and heating air. Needs to be able to super heat the air down to the target to drive as much of it as possible out of the channel
that the main beam will be following. The first beam would fire and wile it is firing the second main beam would fire down the path of the first. With
the air now thinner because of the first laser empty the corridor of air it is able to get more energy to the target.
The current flying megawatt class laser has a range of 100km or greater and is able to down rockets/mortars/plains
that's shooting though the air at a altitude ground-40,000 feet. The air is very thin up there so it losses less energy to the air and is distorted
less. It also has a flexible mirror that compensates for air distortion.
80% of the earths air is blow 18,000 feet so you only have around 4 miles of thick air to go though to reach the target and 90-900 miles of near
vacuum. This all depends on how high of orbit the weapons platform is in.
Now for a power supply you would have to use nuke power to supply the needed punch. It will have to be at least a 2-10 megawatt laser to be very
effective. You also have to remember a solid state laser most of them are only 5-10% efficient at converting power to laser light. Unless you are
going with a flowing gas laser, The Co2 flowing gas laser is 20-28% efficient and can work on High voltage low amperage. So for a 28% efficient laser
that is 10 megawatts you will need to have 28 megawatts of power to drive it. You could always lessen this by using capacitor banks to build up then
energy when its not over the target.
Chemical lasers on the other hand are up to 40% efficient.
But with the flowing gas laser you would also need a way to recombine the CO2 back together after it is broken apart. But that can be done after the
weapon has been fired.
For those that don't know lasers work by bouncing light between 2 mirrors one is 100% reflective the other is around 90-98% reflective and some have
a adjustable end mirror so that it can be 100% reflective on both sides then turn off one let all the laser light out in a pulse instead of a long
always on light.
Also in most lasers light is wasted because only 1 dimension is used it leaks form the sides top and bottom all that light is wasted to harvest that
you need mirrors set up at angles to bring that light back in line with the main laser beam. You also need a good cooling system to keep the laser
from melting down.
So if you could get a large laser in orbit lets say the size of large satellite or space station maybe 3 shuttle loads or more 1 being for the laser
1 being the navigation fire control/cooling and 1 being the fuel/power plant. You could if everything worked out right with the proper cooling system,
be able to knock out soft targets form orbit with out the fear of return fire.
Of course it would do little good against tanks or hardened buildings but it would work against power/water/supply/trains and the like. Aircraft on
the ground or in flight and rockets/missiles. Lets not forget the assassination from space idea either leader walks out to give a speech and he turns
to smoking ash. For some reason people don't do so well when heated to a few thousand degrees.
If you wanted to bring fear to a people you could always do long lasing on cities just keep it running as you cross the city maybe with a zig zag
pattern just enough power to get things to burn like 1000 degrees C. People would fry, Cars would burn, houses, sheep, donkeys, roofs, you get the
idea maybe widen the beam out to lets say 20 feet at full power just enough to leave a nice big burn mark.
If you had lets say 20 or even 10 of these in low earth orbit lets say one orbit every 72-140 min then if you had a target country just line them up
and have the pass over the country so you could be firing on it all day and all night 24 hours a day. So each weapons platform would get about 20-10.5
passes a day. Now lets say each one gets off 10 shots per pass. that's 105-200 shots a day for one platform. Now if there was 10-20 in orbit doing
the same thing it would be more like 1005-2100 shots a day for a fleet of 10 up to 2000-4000 shots a day for a fleet 20 platforms.That's about 1 shot
for every min and a half a day or up to one shot every 36 seconds.
Imagine what It would be like to know that there was going to be a light stabbing out of the sky every 36 seconds and hitting something in your
country? How would that make you feel? And to know that you could do little or nothing about it? If your thinking shoot it down with a missile or
rocket it would be shot down well before it could even get close. Now as for a ground based laser shooting down the platforms that's something all
To defend a platform they would odds are have it panted dark and covered with low radar observable materials with some stealth shapes to make ground
detection very hard and might even have dummy ones in orbit to trick the ground platforms after the first shot from the ground station that sight
would be hit by every laser coming into firing range. Yes the ground has the advantage with available armor but if they can hit the targeting
dish/mirror before they can target you then it will be taken out for a little bit until normal forces can disable it.
So in my opinion we well see orbital laser in the future if we lose the current bans on them.
[edit on 6-12-2004 by shadarlocoth]