Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The 'Edge of Space'???

Good post and discussion over at the Peking Duck: China's Snag


Via The Gentle Rant, a link to an article at Commondreams: Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Weapons Programs:
Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.
Let's make a few things clear. "Rods From God" is not a very good name for this program. I recommend "Bolts From Buddha". Also, 7200 miles per hour is just over 10,000 feet per second, the preferred units when speaking of lethal velocities. Now, 10000 ft/sec is pretty fast. That is twice as fast as the fastest bullet.* It's almost ten times the speed of sound. It is almost as fast as Bread's chips move to the center of the table when he is bluffing.

But striking with the force of a small nuke? I think these tungsten cylinders are going to have to be pretty damn big. I calculate that they would need to be at least the size of a small bus. Granted, I'm using a fairly loose definition of the word 'calculate' this afternoon**. Either way, the Air Force guys had better find out a way to spin the projectiles to give 'em some stability, lest they end up with a big cosmic blunderbuss.

*Unless Robin wants to tell us about some obscure rifle that shoots at over 5000 fps. I'm sure somebody has made one somewhere.
**Yeah I made it up. You want science? Kent's blog is right over there ----------------->

1 comment:

Robin said...

You are roughly right. More usefully, most common rifles fire bullets at 2500 to 3000 fps.