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Space Navy ideas from '50's

Hi, I ran across the following.  Thought it might be interesting to folks.


Subject: Deep Space Bombardment Force
From: Bruce Lewis <bchan@deltanet.com>
Date: 28 Mar 1996 17:34:21 GMT
Message-ID: <4jeiit$ema@news03.deltanet.com>

Back in the 1960s, before the advent of
the stealthy missile-carrying submarine, the
USAF had developed a concept (Dyson, et. al)
for a Deep Space Bombardment Force
consisting of many deep-space vessels
armed with nuclear bombs for purposes
of deterrence. The idea was that the DSBF
would serve as a counterforce weapon to
prop up MAD.

The idea was discared with the success
of the Polaris program. However, recent
advances in ocean survellance technology
are casting doubt on the future of stealthy
submarine forces. If a submerged missile
boat could be accurately located by a blue-
green laser radar or an advanced synthetic
aperture radar mounted on a satellite, it
might be worthwhile to consider reviving
the concept of the Deep Space Bombardment

I assume that the United States will in the
future continue to consider a nuclear-armed
"weapon of last resort" as a necessary thing.
If so, and if surveillance techniques finally
gain the measure of ballistic missile submarines,
a deep-space strike force might be considered
desirable. The question for the reader: is such
a system practical given the situation above?

We know it is possible. The planning for the DSBF
was quite detailed and was considered workable
back in the late 1950s. I see a possible DSBF as
being a deep-space analog of the current missile
boat scenario: a stealthy force of ships capable of
conducting a devastating nuclear counterstrike
on command from an unpredictable position.=20
Instead of deep water, however, the ships of the
DSBF would rely on "deep space" to protect them
from detection by an enemy power. A DSBF "boomer"
might consist of an Orion-type nuclear pulse
vehicle with long-duration nuclear-electric "cruise"
engines added. The "boomer" would depart orbit
with a high velocity using the nuclear pulse system,
assuming an orbit in "deep" space, i.e. a cislunar
or Earth-tracking solar orbit, switching then to
the ion drive system to modify its orbit further.
The drive plume of the pulse system would, of course,
make the "boomer" visible to enemy observers
while in use, but once the ion drive was switched
on and used to modify the ship's orbit unpredictably,
the ability of an enemy to predict its trajectory in
space would be close to nil. The ship would for
all practical purposes "disappear" once the ion
drive systems came into play. As is well-known, the
inverse-square law would prevent all but the largest
search radars from being able to track the ships
one they were in flight; with every second after the
ion drive is employed, the spherical area of space
where the ship could possibly be would increase.
A radar capable of searching the entire volume
of cislunar space to find such ships would have to
be located on the moon or on orbit=8Band would, of
course, be the first target for an attack in the
event of war.

The ships themselves would be large, with fractional
mass-ratios possible due to the high delta v and IsP
of the nuclear pulse drive system. Such huge ships
could carry amenities equal to or surpassing those
on modern-day subs, vital for the maintenace of
crew functionality on long, deep space missions.
Problems of resupply might be alleviated by special
"freighter" versions of the basic "boomer" design; in
addition, the ships would probably be large enough to
be spun up axially, producing a moderate inertial
acceleration perpindicular to the hull of the vessel
and allowing the crew enough "gravity" to raise
enough crops to provide much of the ship's needed
oxygen and food, further reducing the need for
supply. This would also prevent calcium loss and
other problems of long-duration zero-gee exposure
for the crew. The high mass-ratio of these ships
would allow them to be constructed from ordinary
materials like heavy steel, easily obtained at the
fleet's "Luna Pearl Harbor" home base; these dense
hulls would provide the shielding from solar proton
and most galactic cosmic radiation the crew would
require. Storing the ship's water supply in bunkers
between the outer hull and the inner pressure hull
would further reduce ambient radiation within the

The ships might be "homeported" at Luna Pearl Harbor;
aluminum towers 60-100 miles tall could be built up
from the lunar surface to act as "piers" for ships in
dock, allowing for easy and efficiient rapid transit of
crews and cargoes from the base to the ships in port.

One big advantage of such deep-space bombardment
forces is communication. Current missile subs must
rise to periscope deth to receive firing orders from
their home countries or rely on innefficient super-longwave
radio at shallow depths. By contrast, the DSBF could
be in constant communicaton with national command
authorities by means of laser communications. These
beams could be invisibly directed at the ships while "at sea"
from a central facility at Luna Pearl Harbor.

Such a program would have a wealth of beneficial side
effects. To avoid radioactive contamination of Earth's
surface, the ships themselves would be assembled from
lunar materials at the "pier", with the construction materials
being raised into lunar orbit using the "pier" towers.
The lunar and orbital infrastructure needed to maintain the
DSBF program would provide thousands of "ordinary guy"
jobs like welding, electronics, and shipfitting for people
on Earth, who would in turn require housing, provisioning,
and recreational facilities in lunar situ, thus creating more
jobs. There would have to regular "airline" service to
space stations from Earth's surface, and regular service
from there to Luna Pearl Harbor as well=8Bmore jobs.
Finally, some of the "boomers" could be constructed as freighters
and deep-space exploration ships, providing even more
value. How about a thirty-day round-trip to Pluto with
a crew of 100? Ships like the ones described above would be
capable of such trips.=20

Since life aboard such ships would
resemble greatly life aboard modern-day submarines, it
might be wise to commission the ships as naval vessels
and crew them with retrained Navy "nuke" crews.

The DSBF program would do more
than insure the US an unassailable nuclear retailatory
force; it would open up the Solar System for colonization, much
as the sailing ships of old fulfilled both a military and exploratory
function. I think I've considered most of the major
issues of such a force above; now, let's discuss it
in detail.


Bruce Lewis  "The Freshmaker!"
Studio Go! Multimedia, LA                             =20
bchan@deltanet.com      =20


Kelly Starks                       Internet: kgstar@most.fw.hac.com
Sr. Systems Engineer
Magnavox Electronic Systems Company
(Magnavox URL: http://www.fw.hac.com/external.html)