Laubscher Defense of the Space Elevator

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Information about Laubscher Defense of the Space Elevator

Published on November 7, 2007

Author: Isab


Defense of the Space Elevator:  Defense of the Space Elevator Bryan Laubscher Los Alamos National Laboratory June 2004 3rd Annual International Space Elevator Conference Threats to the Space Elevator:  Threats to the Space Elevator Adversaries Terrorist Groups – willing to perpetrate suicide attacks Rogue Nations – willing to aid terrorists and/or to use its military capability to destroy elevator Desperate Nations – may decide to destroy elevator to keep the builder from the prosperity Attacks Space-borne Air-borne Sea Surface Sub-surface Platform Infiltration Delivery Infiltration Payload-borne Defense of the Space Elevator:  Defense of the Space Elevator Assumptions US entity builds SE SE placed in the ocean on equator, hundreds of kilometers from land. This affords some inherent defense from terrorists. US Navy given the responsibility to protect SE Defense resources Defense platform Fighter aircraft Anti-ship and anti-submarine aircraft Patrol ships Platform mounted radar and sonar Platform mounted surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft artillery Marine contingent Defense Perimeters:  Defense Perimeters Air defense perimeter ~100 km radius Provides 7 minutes warning for jet liner RADAR surveillance Sea surface defense perimeter ~40 kilometer radius Maximum range of shipboard artillery RADAR and SONAR surveillance Sub-sea defense perimeter ~10 kilometer radius SONAR surveillance Ground Station:  Ground Station Space-borne Attack:  Space-borne Attack ICBM launched toward SE platform Requires rogue nation or more probably a desperate nation Platform moves routinely, want a direct hit with conventional explosives Nuclear warhead would require only a near miss 20 minute or more flight time plus other latency would place the platform at another location Spy on platform with a GPS and a satellite phone could improve targeting Homing device on the platform could increase accuracy of strike Very difficult to stop Sub-orbital or orbital vehicle launched into space to strike elevator and destroy it Would require a desperate nation Sub-orbital has only a few chances to sever the 1-meter wide ribbon Orbital vehicle has many chances to strike ribbon Orbiting satellite could escape suspicion by performing another mission for months or years - then when close, maneuvering to collide If an orbiting object was obviously maneuvering to strike ribbon, then a “defense” climber could ascend and engage the object A homing device on an SE payload could guide such an interceptor to the ribbon Very difficult to stop Air-based Attacks:  Air-based Attacks Short-range and/or cruise missile attack SR missiles would require launch from aircraft, ship or submarine Nuclear or conventional warhead Missile to missile kill is difficult Terminal defense guns like the Phalanx could destroy missile Commercial airliner attack or dedicated aircraft Could be terrorist, rogue or desperate nation Historic precedent Stoppable at point of origin of the flight Fighter jets stationed on a “defense” platform could shoot down the aircraft Anti-aircraft missiles or artillery could defend the platform. Sea Surface Attacks:  Sea Surface Attacks Ships Artillery has a 40 kilometer range (Iowa class battleships) Ships are slow compared to all other threats Ships are very easy to detect Long range torpedoes could sink the platform but it is massive and the ribbon could be transferred or survive sinking Helicopters and ground effect vehicles launched from ships Could be terrorist, rogue or desperate nation Helicopters would probably not get close enough to crash or land troops because of air defense Troops delivered at sea level would have a difficulty gaining the platform Marines on the platform could defeat a large force with prepared defenses Sub-sea Surface Attacks:  Sub-sea Surface Attacks Submarines Would require a rogue or desperate nation Torpedoes launched far from the platform could sink the platform although it is massive “Mines” released from great depths by deep diving vehicles could surface below the platform and destroy it Active sonar could detect but the 10 kilometer range I proposed is very close in modern battles Floating Platform:  Floating Platform Delivery/Platform Infiltration:  Delivery/Platform Infiltration Delivery Infiltration Any adversary could achieve this Become crew member or stowaway or entire crew Gain access to the platform Could use a “cutting tool” to sever ribbon Background checks Security at the loading port Offloading on a secure platform, have payloads inspected and readied for integration to climber and then loaded Platform Infiltration Any adversary could achieve this Platform workers must have extensive background checks Access to the ribbon vicinity must be controlled EM transmissions must be monitored Payloads must be delivered and inspected elsewhere and then delivered to the launch platform Power beaming stations must have the same kind of security Payload Tampering:  Payload Tampering Payload could be a bomb Any entity could accomplish this subversion It should be detectable at ship loading, especially if the SE personnel have a part in packaging it for shipment Must be detected before it gets to the launch platform Payload could have a homing device on it Any entity could accomplish this subversion In and of itself this is not a threat, but a part of a threat Very difficult to stop Conclusions:  Conclusions The space elevator can be defended commensurate with its value It will require an end-to-end security plan It will require large resources Another example of asymmetry, i.e., it is much more costly to defend than to attack The economic benefit from space elevator technology will ensure its protection Defense implies a co-location of space elevators Slide14:  Future Conference Space Exploration 2005, 1st Biennial Space Elevator Workshop, April 3 – 7, 2005, Albuquerque, New Mexico

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