posted on Oct, 1 2004 @ 04:34 PM
Here's a list of some of the planned and ongoing space weapons
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
see more on these weapons below
'Rods from God'
In April, within 15 minutes of receiving a report that Saddam Hussein had entered a restaurant in Baghdad, a B-1B bomber dropped four 2,000-pound
satellite-guided bombs on the place.
It now appears Saddam slipped out of the building by a secret exit. But if one space-based weapon now being researched had been orbiting above Iraq --
and had worked as envisioned -- Saddam almost certainly wouldn't have got away.
Colloquially called "Rods from God," this weapon would consist of orbiting platforms stocked with tungsten rods perhaps 20 feet long and one foot in
diameter that could be satellite-guided to targets anywhere on Earth within minutes. Accurate within about 25 feet, they would strike at speeds
upwards of 12,000 feet per second, enough to destroy even hardened bunkers several stories underground.
No explosives would be needed. The speed and weight of the rods would lend them all the force they need.
This principle was applied in Iraq to destroy tanks that Saddam's forces shielded near mosques, schools or hospitals. U.S. aviators used concrete
Jerry Pournelle, a science writer and chairman of the Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy, came up with the idea, which he originally
named "Thor" after the Norse god of thunder. The Pentagon won't say how far along the project, or variants of the idea, may be in development.
Closer to operational readiness is a hypersonic bomber which could attack nearly any target in the world within four hours from bases in the United
The FALCON (an acronym for Force Application and Launch from the Continental United States) would be sent into the upper atmosphere by a boost vehicle
and cruise at an altitude of 100,000 feet at speeds up to 12 times the speed of sound. The first flight demonstration is scheduled for 2006.
Besides being able to engage a target faster than conventional bombers, the FALCON would be virtually invulnerable. No fighter aircraft or
anti-aircraft missile could fly as high, and at Mach 12, the FALCON could outrun antiaircraft missiles. No foreign bases would be needed because the
FALCON's range and speed would allow it to be based on U.S. soil.
Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs is already thinking about a follow-on to FALCON -- a genuine space plane that would fly even higher and
faster, stay up longer and carry more weapons.
"Once a target is identified, the space plane can respond from the U.S. and strike worldwide targets in under an hour," SpaceCom researchers said in
a white paper last year.
A key advantage of a space plane, the writers said, is its weapons could enter the atmosphere over a target, so there would be no need to seek
overflight permission from other countries. "Technology exists today to create this capability and evolve it now," they wrote.
The Air Force soon will begin integrated testing of its first Airborne Laser. If it proves reliable, it could be deployed in three or four years.
Housed in a modified Boeing 747, the airborne laser is designed to cruise at 40,000 feet and engage tactical ballistic missiles like the Scud shortly
after liftoff. If a missile is lazed for 3 to 5 seconds, its oxidizer or fuel tank would explode, destroying the missile and spreading debris over the
Lasers that work in the atmosphere would work even better in space. Air refracts and weakens laser beams, and a great deal of power is required to
punch through it.
President Ronald Reagan conceived of space-based lasers as a key element of his "Star Wars" defense against intercontinental ballistic missiles, but
they have proved difficult to develop because of the need to push their heavy power sources into orbit.
Besides destroying enemy ICBMs, space-based lasers would also be designed to disrupt or destroy enemy satellites and knock out high- flying enemy
aircraft or cruise missiles.
Satellite killers, 'bodyguards'
The Air Force has plans for a variety of weapons to protect U.S. satellites, and to destroy or disable enemy satellites. They are known collectively
as anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. Some would be based in space. Others would be on the ground, on ships, or mounted on airplanes. Some would be
directed energy weapons (lasers or high-powered microwaves). Some would have explosive warheads, and some would destroy a target by running into
An ASAT weapon that could be used for both defense and offense is described in an Air Force 2025 study. "Satellite bodyguards" would consist of
approximately five satellites placed in close proximity to the satellite being protected. Some would be decoys. Others would be "hunter-killers,"
armed with directed energy weapons to blind or destroy enemy ASAT weapons. The "hunter-killer" satellites would be designed to detect space-based
threats themselves and receive warnings from Earth.
Unmanned aerial vehicles
The Air Force is working on a family of "long loiter" Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs): one for reconnaissance, another to strike targets and a
"mother ship" -- a UAV itself -- which would deploy and recover smaller combat vehicles. The "mother ship" would store solar energy and transfer
it to vehicles.
The "Strike" UAV would be able to loiter over a target for 24 hours or more. It would carry missiles and bombs for precision strikes on ground
targets but would have only limited air-to-air capability.
The more ambitious "Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicle" could be used either for reconnaissance or attack. It would contain "multispectral" sensors
-- optical, infrared, laser, radar, etc. -- and a variety of precision-guided weapons to attack ground targets. This vehicle also could jam enemy
transmissions and protect U.S. transmissions from electronic countermeasures.
Also under consideration are UAVs that could airdrop supplies to troops from high altitudes.
UAVs operate in the atmosphere, but must be controlled through satellites if they are to operate at ranges beyond line of sight, approximately 130