Conventional rockets in the future

In a hypothetical distant future where ground to space travel is as effortless as portrayed in Infinity or Star Wars or basically any sci-fi universe, do you think we would still use conventional rockets to deliver unmanned cargo to low Earth orbit and beyond?

If so, do you think it would be interesting to include them in Battlescape either as strategic entities or for background aesthetics?

At the very least, rockets will still be of use just based on simplicity, if only for very specific fringe things. For delivering cargo out to space? not likely. Chemical propulsion into space is not very efficient because of how much fuel is needed… only something like 10% of the rocket actually makes it to space.

If we pretend that a spacecraft can, like in infinity, fly around between planets without refuelling, then nobody would look back to the rocket days. They (rockets), in this hypothetical future scifi world, might be used for short range guided missiles because a freon mass driver engine unit, that everyone uses, cant get any smaller because physics?

I’m not very good at technobabble, sorry.

At the very least, it would be viewed as an important stepping stone in history, and various art (rocketpunk?) things would be built up around it. Similar in nature to steampunk. Though rocketpunk wouldent quite be right. Spaceagepunk? Something.

Bed time.


So you think it’s more likely that if a company wanted a washing machine sized satellite delivered to orbit they would have to wait for an autonomous spaceplane to fill its cargo quota? Would such satellites even be necessary in this hypothetical future?

As inefficient as chemical rockets are, we might find a way to efficiently and economically fuel them, starting with liquid methane, and likely all rockets by then would use aerospike engines, or some variation or evolution of them.

With that being said though, if a small payload were to be launched into orbit using a rocket, it would be much smaller than our current standards like Atlas and Falcon (look at companies like Firefly Space Systems and Rocket Lab). In that case, they probably wouldn’t be an interesting asset in a game.

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Not when it’s effortless. That’s the cars vs horses scenario. Cars are simply better than horses for the typical person, and they allow the society to grow in ways that it couldn’t before. Horses are still around, but only for sport and liesure. Rockets might be a thrill ride when space travel is effortless.

When it’s not quite so effortless, you get the cars vs aircraft scenario. Aircraft are good for some things, but cars are good for others. They coexist.

So rockets would be kept around if spaceships couldn’t enter atmospheres. Or if they emitted a field in atmospheres that harmed people or cargo. Or they couldn’t be built smaller than the size of a battleship, and landing such a ship was extremely expensive. There are ways of handicapping ship technology so that rockets are still used, but few people like to handicap spaceships - especially if they’re going to use them in a game.

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I don’t think we’ll be using chemical rockets at that point any longer. I’m assuming that when we reach the point that we can build spacecrafts like the ones in B:I, we can also build a space elevator to deliver cargo and people to lower orbit.

Maybe as hobby projects and historical exhibits? Like steam engines today?

I’m not sure how high tech you were expecting such a space elevator to be, but the designs most people talk about involve a multi-day trip.

From Wikipedia:

At the speed of a very fast car or train of 300 km/h (190 mph) it will take about 5 days to climb to geosynchronous orbit.

An Infinity ship can make the same trip in minutes. Without some sort of deficiency in the ships, there’s just no reason to have other space transport systems.

Do you think that rockets / missles would be a viable weapon in space?

Right now? sure. In the future? who really knows what the future holds?

In the hypothetical future, diamond can be grown for a single crystal laser tube, with super efficient lasers and amazing cooling capabilities. Right now CO2 lasers are generally used industrially cause they scale up rather well. Diode lasers (~808nm wavelength) currently don’t scale up past about 50 watts and only about 30% of the power makes it into the laser beam. CO2 lasers (~10,000 nm wavelength) can go into the kilowatts, but only ~10% of the power makes it into the laser beam.

In my opinion, in comparison to the standard alternatives such as a light-based weapons and projectile-based weapons, missiles would probably be the best option, or rather the middle ground, in terms of cost effectiveness.

The only time the answer would be yes would be with missiles, but I can see missiles using the same sort of proppellentless propulsion the ships use.

No, definitely not. Chemical rockets are just a bitch to deal with and you’re limited by the rocket equation which really sucks.

The only thing I can maybe see is a sort of “guided bullet” sort of deal, where the ship launches a projectile from a cannon, and then chemical fuels are used to alter its path.

If we assume that whatever drives the ships is incapable of being scaled down or incredibly expensive to waste on a one-off weapon, it’s really hard to beat self-contained fuels for energy density and effectiveness.

Fair point @JB47394, my comment was in relation to below:

As for speed, and once again I’m just dreaming out loud here ;), I can imagine we manage to combine systems like Space Elevator & Magnetic propulsion…

The weapons question is fascinating, looking at all sci-fi movies and games it seems that future weaponry is mostly unguided (light weapons & rail guns). Maybe a combination of a rail gun firing off the projectile and then attitude control jets to guide it?

Neh, missiles could still be used, depending. Depending on the purpose of the missile it could be a convenient size, easy to make, and “cheap”.

That’s would I said…

I dont know what kind of propulsion is supposedly used in I:B but I dont think theres a realistic approach, even in theory, to this.

The quantum flux sol propulsion system of course. Where have you been for the last 837 years? :wink:

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I have to disagree with that.

Also, you may all want to go check this website. In particular, this section and this one, and maybe this one.

That’s because guided weapons don’t require the skills of unguided weapons. That’s their appeal in real world warfare. If I can kill you by sitting at home, telling a bullet to go kill you and then sending it on its way, then I do that. But that’s atrocious entertainment because it’s not man v man, but man v machine. So filmmakers and makers of multiplayer games don’t rely on guided weapons. They’re dumb in PvE scenarios, and terrible for PvP scenarios.

I keep hearing about players who love the idea of guided missiles in Infinity:Battlescape. I hated them in the ICP and I’d hate them anywhere else. I’m not interested in maneuvering to defeat a robot. I’m not interested in sending a robot off to fight for me. That’s passive aggressive. I want to come after you and shoot at you. Ram you. Dodge the shots that you are actively directing. I want to see the whites of your eyes, not see my kill count go up one minute after I send a hunter-killer robot after you.

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Dogfights in space would never happen anyway. The spacecraft travel at way too high speeds for it to be feasible. So if we’re forgetting one aspect of reality, we might as well make it as fun as possible. And yeah guided missiles are not fun.