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France Wants To Arm Satellites With Guns And Lasers

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#1 Adam Peter

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Posted 30 July 2019 - 1624 PM

IDK it belongs to Air, but it is above us, and not a rifle

 

Just after it announced that it was creating its own Space Command

 

 

Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the creation of a French space force that would be responsible for defending its satellites. It looks like they’re serious about that: France’s Minister of Defense announced a program that would develop nano satellites equipped with guns and lasers, according to Le Point (via Task & Purpose).

 

That money would go towards upgrading France’s network of Syracuse military communications satellites, which are operated by the French Navy. The military wants the next generation of satellites to come with cameras to identify adversaries, with a followup generation equipped with submachine guns and lasers to attack and disable other satellites.

 

The Ministry of Defense also says that it wants to be able to launch swarms of nano satellites into orbit that could protect strategic objects, and have the ability to launch satellites quickly to replace ones that have been lost.

 


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#2 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 0130 AM

Darth Macron is getting very, very ambitious.....


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#3 lastdingo

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 1623 PM

AFAIK you cannot "defend" satellites other than

- using really high orbits(up to geostationary)

- making them reflective to typical laser wavelengths

- minimising their radio frequency reflextiveness

- adding removable protective covers for optics

- adding material to them that can be sacrificed to laser hits (I don't find better words for it right now, but this was a discussed possible countermeasure to SDI lasers)

- preparing them for unpredictable orbit manipulations in times of crisis or war (essentially, more fuel)

- track potentially hostile objects that try to close with your satellites (to enable evasion)

 

Armament is not defensive; it's offensive. Moreover, an official policy to arm satellites is a dangerous precedent and should not be used unless Russian or Chinese satellites get armed in relevant quantities (including ones in storage and not yet launched).

 

 

Macron reminds me of Sarkozy with his impulsiveness and actionism. That's on the one hand a nice contrast to the do-nothing attitude of German conservatives (who are true conservatives = they want no change to anything if they can avoid it). On the other hand, all-too often Macron's ideas don't seem to be very good ones. He's an unimaginative standard neoliberal in domestic affairs and his foreign policy ideas are usually designed to sound spectacularly, but usually lead to nothing (so far).


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#4 Josh

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Posted 31 July 2019 - 2202 PM

Almost every known ASAT system is kinetic. So orbiting defensive satellites with a single high delta V capability and maneuvering thrusters could work. That said, early warning combined with countermeasures and maneuverability sounds like a better alternative. Direct control of ASAT weapons outside of one's airspace is difficult unless you have a ring of uplink/downlink sites across the globe; counter measures combined with an orbit change would probably be effective.

 

ETA: The most effective defense however would be redundancy and a capability to rapidly launch replacements, even if the replacements were less capable wartime expedients. Something like the Liberty Ship for satellites, and some kind of booster to match, perhaps ICBM/SLBM based design.


Edited by Josh, 01 August 2019 - 0628 AM.

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#5 Chris Werb

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 0150 AM

 

- adding material to them that can be sacrificed to laser hits (I don't find better words for it right now, 

 

 

 

Ablative, I think.


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#6 Josh

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 0625 AM

 

 

- adding material to them that can be sacrificed to laser hits (I don't find better words for it right now, 

 

 

 

Ablative, I think.

 

 

Hard to make solar cells ablative or reflective. Most people picture lasers as burning up a satellite; the reality is you just have to scorch solar arrays sufficiently such that don't deliver adequate power (I'm not aware of any RTG powered satellites in earth orbit currently). Though even lasers with that modest ability would be hard to orbit or have to be large static installations if ground based. MIRCL was test on a defunct satellite once; results not revealed.


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#7 lastdingo

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 0755 AM

Many satellites are cubes with solar panels on all sides - they can be 'burnt' on at most three sides at once, kind of giving them two lives. They could turn the 'dead' side to threats.

 

Some other satellites use nuclear batteries and do not rely on photovoltaic power.


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#8 Josh

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 0807 AM

Many satellites are cubes with solar panels on all sides - they can be 'burnt' on at most three sides at once, kind of giving them two lives. They could turn the 'dead' side to threats.

 

Some other satellites use nuclear batteries and do not rely on photovoltaic power.

 

Most cube sats aren't militarily relevant. More over they are the most easy to replace en mass, so any capability that can be filled by cube sats likely cannot be negated.

As I said, I'm not aware of any satellites in orbit that use RTGs, only extra orbital probes. RTGs on orbit is rather frowned upon, though it would not surprise me to learn the Russians have something using them. At one time the RORSAT series of satellites employed a full up nuclear reactor. In fact those reactors are still in high orbit, minus two that failed to boost and fell back to earth.


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