Thursday, October 19, 2006

Closing In On Space Navy

As exploration pushed the boundaries of human understanding enterprising souls found ways to make a profit from the new discoveries. Whether it be by trade, shipping, mining ores or providing services to those that do, humans have found a way to profit by it.

As these profits and interests amount competitors and even non state actors (pirates/terrorists) have taken the opportunity to abscond with the fruit of other's capital and labor.

This naturally has brought about a nation's protective element; its Navy. Maintaining commerce through safeguarding the Sea Lanes of Communication, providing a safe environment for a nation's business is a Navy's job. Even small nations have a fleet if for nothing else to run off those illicitly commercially fishing inside their territorial waters.

Now our exploration and commerce is taking us away from our home and beyond the atmoshpere. Already much of our communication infrastructure floats miles beyond the clouds.

Soon we will have tourists exploring where only multi billion dollar government programs have been. This will lead to other trade. And inevitably in mankind we will begin to compete for control of the ultimate high ground.

In order to be ready for this contested ground our interests will have to be protected. How far are we from this becoming a reality?

In recent notes we have seen the on going development of more efficient drive systems for use in our solar system.

Also we have seen plans for powering space based vessels.

Now we see that a cloaking device used to mask radio emissions/radar signature has been created.

We have rail guns in labs and more in development.

How much work would it take to create missile systems for space based ship to ship and, heaven forbid their use, ship to planetary targets?

Notably a warhead would be superfluous provided the projectile itself was moving fast enough.

Obviously the greatest expense would be development of orbital infrastructure and pushing supplies and materials out of the planetary gravity well.

That all being said, are we within fifty years of our first frigates operating in the cold of space?

I honestly have no informed idea of how long it will be until our financial stake in the heavens above us becomes significant enough or competition fierce enough to need protection.

Update:

A link to an USAF report on space defense and a spirited debate at Slashdot.

Hat Tip to DefenseTech

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