Orionblamblam said:

.........

Additionally, the claims that these things pack the punch of nukes is exaggerated to the point of being outright lies. They would hit the ground at less than orbital velocity (how much less is down to trajectory options... if you slow it down only a little bit to get it to de-orbit, it will hit the ground at a relatively shallow angle; if you drop it straight down, then you had to have dumped most of the orbital velocity). LEO circular orbit velocity is about 7,800 m/sec. The density of tungsten is 19.3 grams/cubic centimeter. So a rod 20 cm in diameter and ten meters long would have a volume of 3.14159*(10^2)*1000 = 314,159 cubic cm => 6,063 kg. Having six metric tons whack you upside the head at 7.8 km/sec would be harsh, but is it nuke-like? The kinetic energy is 1/2 M*V^2 = .5* 6063 * 7800^2 = 184,436,460,000 joules (184.4 gigajoules). One metric ton of TNT releases 4.184 gigajoules, so this six-ton rod has the equivalent yield of 44.1 metric tons of TNT, a multiple of 7.35.

Keep in mind: in order to drop that six ton rod of tungsten on the other guy, you had to expend a de-orbit stage of unknown mass, as well as a whole lot of tons of rocket propellant to boost the system into orbit in the first place. The Falcon 9 Full thrust can put 22.8 tons into orbit (equivalent to 3.75 rods, not counting de-orbit systems...call it three rods), burning through 410.9 tons of propellant in the first stage and 107.5 tons of propellant in the second => 518.4 tons of propellant expended to deliver the equivalent of 3X44.1 tons (132.3 tons) of TNT onto the enemy.

An entire Falcon 9 delivers a maximum of 0.13 kilotons of destructive potential upon the enemy using "Thor." Alternatively, you could load up that Falcon Nine with a couple hundred megatons of thermonuclear sunshine.

Davy Crocket's W-54 warhead had a yield of either 10 or 20 tons depending on setting so 44T is

*technically* in tactical nuke territory. However, the W-54 got most of its lethality from the radiation pulse, so the Thor, even given double the blast, is probably less effective. It's probably more deliverable in a high threat environment than a BLU-82(Daisy Cutter) though.

The concept as a whole, associated with something like a re-useable Falcon

*might* give us some idea of what the Chinese interest (mentioned earlier in the thread)

*might* be looking at. Take Mr. Lowther's six ton tungsten rod and increase it by 50% for 9 tons (this is a completely arbitrary figure intended to allow for something small but with a thrust to weight ratio akin to a SPRINT ABM motor) This weapon needs targeting, quite precise targeting given the guidance challenges during re-entry, so we'll be insanely generous and provide each weapon system with a KH-11 spy satellite= about 12 tons. This is certainly on the high end of targeting needs and budgeting possibilities but it allows us some design margin.

Falcon Heavy can throw 63 tons into low earth orbit. 63-12=51 which leaves 51 tons remaining.

51 tons divided by 9 tons per tungsten telephone pole+de-orbit motor in turn yields 5.667.

This gives us 5 warshots and .667 of 9 tons to add to our design margin.

So we have 5 warshots per launch to LEO.

However, an on call orbital system probably ought to be in Polar, Molniya or SSO orbit so we'll go with 2 shots per launch as an alternative, low end case.

The goal for Falcon Heavy is reportedly 100 launches. One can assume a Chinese equivalent will be similar so 100 launchers give 10 thousand launches which result in 20,000 or 50,000 warshots on station depending on the orbit chosen. In a polar orbit the whole enchilada could be fired at one target in a 24 hour period. Optimistically assuming a firing window of one half hour for each satellite, about 213 shots would be in position over any point on Earth at any time. Optimistically assuming a launch a week per rocket, the USSF or the People's Liberation Army Taikonaut Attack Corps (?) could put this sword of Damocles up in two years or so.

Each shot is, again, equivalent to 2 and a half Daisy Cutters. Any warship, even A Nimitz or Kuzenetsov class, will be ended by a hit from one of these things. Even the lower end figure of 20,000 is a much greater number than there are warships in the world. Sink any one navy and there are enough left over to use against most fixed targets of strategic importance such as RailYards, power plants, Whata-Burgers, air fields, dams, canal locks, munitions factories, command/control centers and even strategically located cloverleafs.

100 rockets, 10,000 launches and their not inexpensive payloads are a massive and, arguably, unrealistic investment but by no means an impossible one. Given the current downward trends in launch costs facilitated by Mr. Musk, the cost to benefit analysis of this sort of thing with regards to national goals and resources is going to trend in its favor in the future.

Full disclosure: I'm a History Major, not an engineer, so I grimly await having my math checked.