About That Intel Issue

That is so serious it is requiring multiple meetings, lots of SCIF briefings, and is apparently being leaked madly in the name of saving the Republic (cough, choke, wheeze). Oh, and is also being linked to crucial, crucial I say funding for Ukraine and is so important no money can be wasted on our borders… Sigh.

For now, color me skeptical, unimpressed, and needing jusssssst a touch more info (/end Harry Doyle/Bob Uecker voice) to be convinced. Right now, the bookmakers are putting good odds on it being the Russians, in the library with a candlestick, er, in space with nukes.

Okay, I’ll bite. One, nukes are about the only credible threat Russia has right now, and even it is a bit wobbly in my opinion. I still subscribe to my ‘tyranny of the 20 percent’ concept in which I think they (or us) will be lucky to get 20 percent of the weapons and/or weapons systems to work. Just look at how well Nikita’s, er, Vladimir’s demo launch worked during Biden’s visit to Ukraine.

For as much as I am NOT a fan of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, and would like to see us either re-negotiate the majority in light of commercial operations or withdraw from them, there are some interesting and needed weapons provisions that I think are good things even though I’m also more than a little suspicious that China (1983 signatory I think) is well on its way to scrapping some key lunar and orbital points. For that matter, I’m pretty sure Russia has already violated it a time or two (but that’s true for pretty much every treaty they have signed).

Until there is more information, there’s not a lot that can be said — which is not going to stop the grifters and pundits from putting forth thousands of empty words. I’m going to wait and see what comes out other than leaks, then offer some analysis and thoughts. Until then, just consider my cynicism as a given.

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3 thoughts on “About That Intel Issue”

  1. There have been rumors since the USSR’s Polyus/SCIF-DM test launch failed in 1987 that the “laser target object launchers” on board were actually (or were also capable of being) launchers for orbital bombardment nuclear warheads, with the onboard laser intended to defend the Polyus vehicle while those entry devices could be dropped from orbit.

    The advantage is a weapon dropped from orbit comes in from a random direction, rather than over the pole or from the known sub launch areas, and only has around half the flight time to be spotted. Warheads themselves are small and can be cold, so if an attacker were to separate one with, say, a cold gas thruster for deorbit “burn” over the Indian Ocean, if it was even spotted coming in to the US it would probably be classed as a meteor.

    What is seemingly leaking now seems to be about rooskie nukes for in-space use against sats, which makes only a little sense. Nuclear weapons behave differently in space – they are basically instantaneous high energy flux generators. The heat pulse and explosive effects when a nuke is detonated in atmosphere result from that high energy flux interacting with atmosphere and dirt and such. None of that in deep space, so it’s just a working point source of gamma and x-ray pulse. Now that would be bad juju for electronics, but as noted, no blast wave or heat pulse, so no physical effects on structures.

    The ABM x-ray lasers that SDI wanted to work on would be great, but there is no way the Russian Federation has got anything like that working.

    A better use of the lift mass to orbit that would take to loft nukes would be a bus for basically flying claymores. The main sat gets near enough, drops some mini sats to close on it’s target and then, bang, here comes the cloud of ball bearings to shred your spy or C3 sat.

    1. I want to do a good post, and you’ve saved me a lot of time. 🙂 Will be linking to this when I do. Thank you for sharing.

      1. No problem. Note there are a lot smarter people on deep space effects of nuclear detonations than me. That physics is far beyond me, and I defer to actual expertise.

        But I am confident about the terrestrial thermal pulse and obviously blast wave effects being absolutely from the high energy interaction with atmosphere, and those are the main immediately-bad things about a surface detonation of a nuke.

        And there’s no fallout, as there’s nothing to fall-out: No material beyond what’s casing the device, and no convective lift to uptake it so it gets irradiated, because it’s microgravity and vacuum, so just an expanding and dissipating high energy and radiation spherical wavefront with a little bit of vaporized metal plus any unreacted fissiles.

        I’ve read some stuff asserting there would not even be a visible flash in far deep space, that it would all be too high energy, so any photons emitted down in the “light” spectrum frequencies would be off at the edge of hard UV. Others have said the casing and delivery vehicle and such would contribute enough interaction for a visible flash. I think the actual detonation of the starfish shot was visible before the “splash” on the top of the atmosphere was seen, so likely the latter, though taht was relatively low orbit not deep space.

        So not healthy to be around for man nor satellite, but no Hollywood space mushroom clouds or Deathstar magic blast rings.

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